Cotton Sublimation Part 1

"Cotton sublimation", "sublimation to cotton" or perhaps "can I use sublimation inks on cotton". These are a few of the search terms many people are using to answer their questions surrounding the subject of using sublimation ink on cotton.

Well, having created the first single-step, self-weeding, inkjet, sublimation media for cotton, we know something about this topic. One blog will never suffice to answer all of your questions on this topic, so we'll divide it up into several smaller and more digestible pieces. If we don't answer your specific question, hang on to your hat! We'll get to it! But in case we forget, send us an email from our contact page to remind us. :)

Back-up the wagon! Let's remember where this all started. Seven or so years ago, if you mentioned "sublimation to cotton", the industry sublimation experts would tell you it can't be done because "cotton don't sublimate!" You know what... they were right. Any attempt at sublimating onto 100% cotton t-shirts would result in nothing more than a weak smudge-like stain on the shirt immediately after washing. That's right, the ink washed out because sublimation dyes have very little affinity for cotton. These dyes love polyester, but not so much with cotton.

Today, it's a different story. Reveal was launched several years ago and changed the way the industry talked about sublimation dyes and cotton. For those of you who don't know, Reveal-S was the first heat transfer media allowing single-step, self-weeding imaging onto cotton using sublimation inks. Because Reveal tackled two issues, both sublimation ink onto cotton and single-step self weeding, it literally took years for people to believe these things could be done!

So, YES! Sublimation onto Cotton is now possible!

Vivid Chemical created the line of Reveal heat transfer products specifically designed for decorating white and light cotton fabrics using digital sublimation printers. Whew!

Ok, I can hear some of you now... "What about sublimation onto dark cotton... haa, haa." Another good question. After all, dark cotton will essentially hide traditional sublimation inks, even when using them with a product as technically advanced as Reveal. 

What to do...
Digitally decorating black t-shirts with sublimation inks... Well, we knew this was going to be a monumental undertaking and something, if we could do it, that could shape the cotton t-shirt decoration world for generations to come.

After many months of pre-search followed by research and development, we developed a solution for decorating dark cotton. It's unlike anything you have seen! I know you have a load of questions so just hold tight. We'll be releasing the information that you want soon!


This is a heap of information to absorb and I know many of you have questions... maybe even wagon loads of questions. I'll get to them... just shoot me a reminder from our contact page.

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If you are a current customer, try our newly formed private FB group. Along with technical support, this group will be sharing helpful hints and cool Reveal processing features.


As always, if you keep visiting, we'll keep posting!





Hi Gina,
Great questions. We have much experience with dtg imaging as well as Ricoh and Epson platforms. Each of your questions is worth a blog or two so I don’t want to post a partial answer. We will post detailed responses soon. Let us know what printer or printers you are using now or have used in the past. We’ll customize our answer towards you!



I am interested in hearing more about decorating cotton with Reveal versus dtg. Also, there is much information about Epson versus Ricoh based sublimation printers. Do you have an opinion?

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