On what products can I sublimate?
A few examples of substrates that have been treated for sublimation include hardboard (compressed wood cut into different shapes for different purposes), glass cutting boards, ceramic and aluminum Christmas ornaments, coated ceramics, coated glass, polymer plastics and much more. You can also sublimate on polyester garments.
In order to understand why only certain items are good for sublimation, you will need to first understand what the process of sublimation is. Basically, sublimation is when a solid turns to a gas without first becoming a liquid. Dry ice is a great visual example of sublimation. It goes from a solid state directly to a foggy gas as I’m sure you have seen many times in stage theatrics. With dye sublimation, the ink is actually a gel that is printed on special paper, becomes a gas when heated, and then turns back into a solid state on the substrate.
The particles are attracted to polyester a.k.a. plastic. It really is rather magical as these particles actually become part of the plastic when heated. But don’t go throwing any old plastic in your heat press! That would be a huge disaster. Most plastics you are familiar with cannot withstand 200 degrees Celcius. This is where your sublimation vendors come in. They offer a HUGE variety of substrates that have been professionally coated with whatever magic it is that makes sublimation work.