Awards & Engraving

2019 Sublimation Report

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32 The Sublimation Report • Spring 2019 a-e-mag.com • printwearmag.com with the polymers of the substrate. During this gassing process, certain colors shift, so the finished product may not look like the original image on the screen. You may notice that the colors of the ink printed on a sublimation transfer paper are sometimes different from the final image that is created when heat and pressure are applied. This is because of the chemical characteristics of the dye- sublimation process, and another reason why color correction is needed. ICC PROFILES AND CUSTOM PRINT DRIVERS For our industry, there are two main tools for color management. The first is the ICC profile. You may have heard of people talking about profiles in conversa- tions about sublimation printing. An ICC profile is a set of data that ensures when a specific color is selected on the computer screen, the designated color is consistently and correctly delivered by the printer. Think of it as a color-matching program, since the screen color rarely produces the same color output as the printer. A profile creates a link between specific screen colors and specific output colors. It doesn't change the color, rather it ensures the correct output for a given input. To use profiles, you must work with ICC-compliant graphics software (e.g. Adobe Photoshop and Corel). The profile is placed in the output stage of printing, and the manufacturer's print driver will be set to No Color Adjustment. This setup color corrects the image and then sends the data to the printer. Color correction profiles for dye-subli- mation have their own unique challenges. Under normal profile creation, when a printer has printed out the color swatch for testing, the profiling software knows how to adjust the colors to print out the correct ones onto paper. With sublima- tion transfers, the paper print is not the final destination for your colors. They will undergo a chemical change in the heat press when the ink turns into a gas. This change in color properties during sublimation can be quite dramatic (e.g. some blues look like green on paper), and it is, therefore, impossible to judge whether the print is correct or not until it is sublimated onto the final substrate. It is necessary to create custom sublimation profiles and print management applica- tions of these profiles to create the correct sublimated color. Custom print drivers are designed to do just that. These are programs that have color correction built into the printer control system and may contain several profiles based on specific settings the user inputs. The advantage of these programs is that color correction is performed at the print driver stage, and they are generally easier and less technical to use than a single ICC profile. With a custom print driver, you can select specific transfer Because screen colors are often misleading, it's a good idea to print and press color palettes onto hard and soft substrates. papers, inks, color modes, and substrates, which the software takes into consider- ation while processing the file from RGB to CMYK. With these custom settings, getting the right colors becomes easy. QUICK TIPS Now that you have some under- standing of why color management is needed in sublimation printing, here are some easy ways that can help ensure you produce the colors your customers want. • Check Your System: Make sure that you use some kind of color manage- ment tool and that your graphics soft- ware is configured correctly to apply it. Whether you use ICC profiles or a custom print driver, specific settings in Photoshop, CorelDRAW, and other desktop graphics programs need to be implemented. • Learn How to Apply Your Software: Installing and configuring the software is the first step. The next is under- standing how to apply the profile or print driver. For example, if you're using Virtuoso Print Manager with Photoshop, you would choose Virtuoso Print Man- ager as your printer in the print screen dropdown, instead of selecting SG400 or SG800. Talk to your dealer or ink manufacturer to learn how to apply the color management software appro- priate for your system. • Print and Press Color Palettes: Because screen colors are often mis- leading, it's a good idea to print and press color palettes onto hard and soft substrates. This allows you to refer cus- tomers to specific colors and sets the expectation of how they will look on the final product. It also enables you to assign the right colors in your graphics program. This is a process referred to as spot color matching. Once you have the basics of color man- agement down and you've developed a reliable workflow that keeps your produc- tion quick and easy, you'll be happy you invested the time in learning how to use these essential tools. SR

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