What's the difference between HTV and Sublimation?

Good morning everyone and welcome to this week's Midweek Wednesday Blog.


This week I'm going to be talking to you about the difference between HTV Vinyl Printing and Sublimation Printing.


To the outside person your probably thinking what are you going on about Maria. Well let me explain it to you.


When it comes to Printing on clothing and mugs etc there are two very different types of Printing. You have HTV and Sublimation Printing.


Some Printing companies with use either one or the other or a mixture of both Printing techniques. Below I'm going to explain a bit about these two different ways of Printing.


Firstly HTV Printing:


HTV otherwise known as Heat Transfer Vinyl is the process of using Vinyl that either comes on a roll or in individual sheets. Generally comes with a clear protective film on one side and the vinyl on the other side.


When Printing with HTV you generally will layer up the vinyl individually to create an image.


You will take the design, transfer it into a specific format so it turns it into an outline image of your design. You send it to a Vinyl cutting machine with the HTV vinyl in and the machine will cut the design out into the vinyl.


As you can imagine some designs can be very fiddley and therefore can take anything up to 40mins to cut the design. The more detail in the image the longer it takes to cut.




When the image is cut into vinyl you then have to Weed (pick) the vinyl. So this process involves you taking all the unrequited vinyl away from the image so you are left with the outline of the design.

This process can be very time consuming and very fiddley especially in areas where the light isn't very good.



Now if you are layering up different colours within the vinyl you need to cut and weed each different colour vinyl and the layer it up so some vinyl you'll take out certain bits but in the second colour you'd leave those bits and take out the other bits and so on and so forth until you have the complete image done.



Then when you Heat Press the image you have to do it in the different layers. So you will start woth the outline, then colour 1 and so on and pressing it each time as the specified heat and pressure setting required for the item your Printing on.


Secondly you have Sublimation:


With this technique you can take any image you like doesn't matter if it hand drawn, or coloured in where colours merge together or anything and print the exact age out and press onto any item of clothing you wish.


With this technique you print the image using a special printer that gas special ink in it especially for Sublimation prints. This image is then printed using this specific ink and specific paper, so the image is exactly as it is on screen.



This paper is then taken and just pressed onto the clothing item or mug etc and pressed at a different temperature and pressure setting for the item. Peel back the paper and the image will be transfered on to the image of clothing.


What way do I print and why?


Know you might be thinking that's a lot of difference in the work levels and the amount of time it takes to do each type of printing and you'd be right.


I chose to Print using the HTV method as for me I personally feel after trying a Sublimation print the print didn't seem to feel as attached to the item so for me I didn't like the feel of the quality.


I tried a Sublimation print on a hoodie for my daughter and after a few washes it started to peel off and for me as a business owner I do not want my print to be peeling off after a few washes.


Know if I compare that to another hoodie i printed using the HTV method it's been through the wash a lot more times and is still as it was the day I printed it.


Know I'm not saying HTV is better than Sublimation as Sublimation works a lot better for ceramic and plastic type items for example mugs, phone cases and puzzles etc so for this type of items I'd definitely say Sublimation is needed more so.


But for me as a small business owner offering the items I do and valuing my quality and product life for my items I prefer to work with the HTV method.


Have I had to turn down clients?


Yes I have had to turn down some clients as I've not been able to do some designs however I do not feel like I can produce a product with a way of printing I can not fully trust so I'd rather say no to these clients and stick with what I know and love.


To finalise:


I print all my products using the HTV method which means it easy to change colours round if for example you go through a rebrand, or you want special one off colours it's easy for me to change it up without having to redesign the whole image.


So when you look at a design do you think you'd be able to tell if it's a HTV print or a Sublimation Print.


I'm hoping now you will understand the difference between the two types of printing and if you come to me in future and I say I can't do it for whatever reason it's probably due to the design and nothing more than that.


I hope you enjoyed this blog and like always I'll be back next week with my latest installment of Maria's Midweek Wednesday Blog.


Have an awesome week and remember you are stronger than you believe!


Maria xxx




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