3D Printing With Sublime Sublimation

[Teaching Tech] got an interesting e-mail from [Johan] showing pictures of 3D prints with a dye-sublimated color image on the surface. Normally, we think of dye sublimation, we think of pressing color pictures onto fabric, especially T-shirts. But [Johan] uses a modified Epson inkjet printer and has amazing results, as you can see in the video below.

The printers use separate tanks for ink, which seems to be the key. If you already have an Espon “tank” printer, you are halfway there, but if you don’t have one, a cheap one will set you back less than $200 and maybe even less if you pick one up used.

You have to fill bottles with special dye, of course. You can also use the printer to make things like T-shirts. The idea is to print a dye transfer page and place it on the bed before you start printing. The sublimation dye is activated with heat, and, of course, you are shooting out hot plastic, so the image will transfer to the plastic.

[Teaching Tech] explains the best settings to make it all work. The results look great and we’re interested to try this ourselves. Transferring bed images is old hat, but this is something else. Beats liar’s color printing.

10 thoughts on “3D Printing With Sublime Sublimation

    1. It’s 3d printing plus sublimation printing, not 3d printing through sublimation printing. The title is accurate, and given that he 3d printed a phone case with a sublimation-printed graphic on it, still counts as 3d printing.

  1. You could probably get some interesting effects by using colors other than CMYK, if such are available. You could do it as a CMYK halftone like normal, just with different colors. Or you could probably do a spot-color kind of thing, with areas of 100% C, M, or Y, in which the actual color printed in each area is something else.

    1. If the printer has a ribbon, the transferring is happening inside the printer, so you won’t be able to transfer from the printout. If you put sublimation dye in an inkjet tank, it can print the dye onto transfer paper, which you can then 3D printing onto, to transfer the image from the transfer paper to the 3D printer.

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