Why does my sublimation look faded? How to solve it?

Is your sublimation print looking a bit faded and dull? Well, I’ve been down that road too, discovering that even the slightest mistake in settings or poor quality supplies can drastically affect the vibrancy of my prints.

This article: Why does my sublimation look faded? will serve as your troubleshooting guide – full of tips, solutions, and industry secrets to turn those lackluster creations into vibrant masterpieces. Ready to get your colors popping again? Let’s dive right in!

Why does my sublimation look faded?

Faded sublimation prints can occur due to incorrect time, temperature, and pressure settings during the sublimation process.

1. Incorrect time, temperature, and pressure settings

Setting your sublimation process to the wrong time, temperature, and pressure may be causing your prints to appear faded. It’s a common belief that using more heat for longer will improve the vibrancy of your design.

This is a misconception. In fact, excessive heat can damage the ink and result in dull sublimation prints. Similarly, too much pressure can disrupt the ink transfer from paper to fabric, hindering its absorption and reducing color saturation.

Plus remember each material demands specific time and temperature parameters for optimal color intensity — it isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. So always ensure you have calibrated these settings correctly on your printer based on manufacturer guidelines or recommended practices for effective results with lavish colors in your printwork.

2. Poor quality sublimation ink

I have found that one of the main reasons why sublimation prints can appear faded is due to the use of poor quality sublimation ink. Using low-grade ink can result in dull and lackluster colors, leading to unsatisfactory print results.

It’s essential to invest in high-quality sublimation ink that is specifically designed for vibrant and long-lasting prints.

When using poor quality ink, the color saturation may not be optimal, resulting in faded or washed-out images. Additionally, inferior ink may not adhere well to the substrate surface during the heat transfer process, causing a lack of clarity and sharpness in the final print.

To avoid this issue, it is crucial to research and choose reputable brands that offer high-quality sublimation ink. Investing in reliable products will ensure that your prints turn out bright, vibrant, and professional-looking.

3. Use of low-quality transfer paper

Using low-quality transfer paper can greatly affect the vibrancy and longevity of your sublimation prints. Inferior transfer paper may not have the necessary coating to properly hold the ink, resulting in a faded or washed-out appearance.

The surface of low-quality transfer paper may also be rough or uneven, causing inconsistencies in color and sharpness.

When choosing transfer paper for sublimation printing, it’s important to opt for high-quality options specifically designed for this purpose. Look for papers with a smooth and even coating that promotes excellent ink absorption and retention.

Good quality transfer paper will provide crisp, vibrant colors and sharp details in your prints.

4. Printing on the wrong side of the paper

One common reason why your sublimation prints may appear faded is when you accidentally print on the wrong side of the paper. Sublimation paper has a specific coating that allows it to hold onto and transfer the sublimation ink effectively.

When you print on the wrong side, this coating is not present, resulting in a lack of color saturation and vibrancy in your prints. Remember to double-check before printing to ensure that you are using the correct side of the paper, as this simple mistake can significantly impact the quality of your sublimated images.

It’s essential to pay attention to these small details for achieving vibrant and professional-looking results with your sublimation projects.

How to avoid faded sublimation prints?

To fix faded sublimation prints, adjust time, temperature, and pressure settings during the printing process. Use high-quality sublimation ink and choose the right transfer paper for optimal results.

Printing on the correct side of the paper is also crucial. Learn more about these solutions and enhance your sublimation print quality today!

Adjusting time, temperature, and pressure settings

To ensure vibrant and long-lasting sublimation prints, it’s crucial to adjust the time, temperature, and pressure settings correctly. Incorrect settings can result in faded or dull prints that don’t showcase the true colors of your design.

When setting up your sublimation machine, refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines for recommended settings. Start with a lower temperature, shorter time, and lighter pressure and gradually increase until you achieve optimal results.

This allows you to find the sweet spot where the ink is fully activated without causing any damage to the substrate.

Additionally, make sure to take into account the type of fabric or material you are printing on as each may require different heat and pressure settings. Some fabrics are more sensitive than others and may need lower temperatures to avoid fading.

Using high-quality sublimation ink

One of the key factors in achieving vibrant and non-faded sublimation prints is using high-quality sublimation ink. The quality of the ink directly affects the color intensity, sharpness, and longevity of your prints.

High-quality sublimation ink contains a higher concentration of dyes, which ensures better color saturation and vibrancy.

When you use low-quality or generic sublimation ink, you may experience issues such as faded colors or dull prints. This is because low-grade inks often have lower dye content and may contain impurities that can affect print quality.

Additionally, these inferior inks may not be properly formulated for optimal sublimation performance.

Investing in high-quality sublimation ink from reputable manufacturers is essential for obtaining professional-looking results. These inks are specifically designed for sublimation printing, ensuring accurate color reproduction and excellent durability after washing.

Choosing the right transfer paper

Choosing the right transfer paper is crucial for achieving vibrant and long-lasting sublimation prints. Low-quality transfer paper can result in faded, dull, or blurry images. When selecting transfer paper, opt for a product specifically designed for sublimation printing to ensure optimal results.

Look for transfer papers that have a high release coating and are compatible with your specific printer and ink.

Using the correct type of transfer paper can prevent issues such as bleeding or ghosting of colors. Additionally, consider the weight and thickness of the paper, as these factors can impact the final print quality.

Thicker papers tend to provide better color vibrancy and sharper image details.

Remember that different types of fabrics may require different transfer papers. For example, if you’re working with polyester materials, choose transfer papers specifically formulated for polyester substrates to achieve excellent color saturation.

Printing on the correct side of the paper

To prevent faded or dull sublimation prints, it is crucial to ensure that you are printing on the correct side of the paper. When using sublimation transfer paper, one side is coated with a special chemical that allows the ink to properly transfer onto the substrate, while the other side is uncoated.

Printing on the uncoated side will result in poor color saturation and fading.

To determine which side to print on, look for any markings or instructions provided by your paper manufacturer. In some cases, there may be slight color differences between the two sides, with one appearing slightly brighter than the other.

Additionally, you can perform a simple test by printing a small sample image on both sides of the paper and comparing them after heat pressing onto a substrate. The side that exhibits vibrant and accurate colors should be used for future prints.

Tips to enhance sublimation print quality

To enhance the quality of your sublimation prints, make sure to properly calibrate your sublimation printer, prepare the substrate surface correctly, and ensure proper curing and cooling processes.

why does my sublimation look faded

1. Properly calibrating your sublimation printer

To achieve vibrant and high-quality sublimation prints, it is crucial to properly calibrate your sublimation printer. Calibration ensures that the colors produced by your printer match the desired output accurately.

Start by adjusting the color settings on your computer to ensure they are optimized for sublimation printing. This involves adjusting the brightness, contrast, and saturation levels to enhance color accuracy.

Next, use a quality calibration tool or software provided by the manufacturer of your sublimation printer. These tools help you fine-tune various aspects such as color balance, gamma correction, and ink density.

2. Preparing the substrate surface correctly

To achieve vibrant and long-lasting sublimation prints, it is crucial to prepare the substrate surface correctly. This step ensures that the ink adheres properly to the material, resulting in clear and vivid images.

One essential factor is ensuring that the substrate surface is clean and free from any dust, dirt, or oils. Cleaning it with a lint-free cloth or using a specialized cleaning solution can help remove any contaminants that may affect print quality.

Additionally, some substrates require a special coating or treatment to enhance ink absorption and prevent fading over time. It’s important to follow manufacturer guidelines for pre-treating surfaces to ensure optimal results.

By taking these steps, you’ll be on your way to achieving professional-looking sublimated products with bright colors and sharp details.

3. Ensuring proper curing and cooling processes

Proper curing and cooling processes are crucial in achieving vibrant and long-lasting sublimation prints. After the sublimation process, where heat and pressure convert ink into a gas that bonds with the fabric or substrate, it is essential to allow sufficient time for the print to cure properly.

This helps ensure that the colors remain vivid and don’t fade over time. Similarly, proper cooling of the printed material after curing helps prevent color bleeding or transfer issues.

By following these steps diligently, you can maximize the vibrancy and durability of your sublimated creations while delivering high-quality products to your customers.


1. Why does my sublimation look faded?

There are several possible reasons why your sublimation may appear faded. It could be due to using low-quality or expired ink, incorrect temperature and pressure settings during the sublimation process, insufficient pre-press time, or poor image resolution.

2. How can I prevent fading in my sublimation prints?

To prevent fading in your sublimation prints, make sure you use high-quality sublimation ink and substrates. Follow the recommended temperature and pressure settings for your specific printer and substrate combination. Also, ensure that your images are of high resolution and properly optimized before transferring them.

3. Does the type of fabric affect how my sublimation looks?

Yes, the type of fabric can have an impact on how your sublimation looks. Some fabrics may not hold onto the dye as well as others, resulting in a faded appearance. It is important to choose fabrics that are suitable for sublimation printing and have been specifically coated or treated to enhance color vibrancy.

4. Can I fix a faded sublimated print?

Unfortunately, once a sublimated print has faded, it cannot be fixed or restored to its original vibrancy. Prevention is key when it comes to avoiding fading in your prints through proper equipment setup, using quality materials, and following best practices throughout the entire printing process.


In conclusion, if your sublimation prints are looking faded, there are several potential causes to consider. Incorrect time, temperature, and pressure settings during the sublimation process can lead to dull or light images.

Poor quality sublimation ink or transfer paper can also contribute to faded prints. Additionally, printing on the wrong side of the paper can result in less vibrant results. By adjusting these factors and following proper techniques for substrate preparation and curing processes, you can enhance the quality and vibrancy of your sublimation prints.

Remember to use high-quality materials and calibrate your printer for optimal results.

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