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Dye Sublimation Printing: The Facts



What exactly is Dye Sublimation Printing? Glad you asked! Dye Sublimation is a printing technique that utilizes heat to transfer dye onto a variety of materials. In our case we print on aluminum (not glass!) The result is a hyper realistic fine art photography print.

The Process:

Sublimation is defined as heating something and turning it into vapor without entering the liquid stage. The dye sublimation process lends itself to photography naturally because it yields much higher quality results visually. This is due to the use of a thermal transfer where the high temperature results in dye being vaporized and imbued onto the surface of the aluminum. The molecular bonding process begins which will adhere the dye to the surface and create a permanent transfer. When the dyes return to their solid form they appear glossy, bright and inviting. Since the dye is bonded with the aluminum it also makes the print less susceptible to distortion or color fading. This process is how our Dye Subs get that bright, backlit effect that makes them stand out amongst other fine art prints.

Making It Our Own:

Here at Blink Gallery we offer various printing methods but our aluminum prints continue to be the most popular! We offer a variety of sizes, finishes and compositions to make a truly unique offering to our clients. We also offer a “Hand Brushed Aluminum Print”. The coating on these prints is applied by hand and therefore each piece is truly one of a kind and no two are identical. More on those in a future blog post!

The History:

The origins of Dye Sublimation printing lead back to the 1950s in France, and to a French researcher named Noel De Plasse. De Plasse concluded that dye does in fact sublimate and he could manipulate it for printing while working for a textile company named Lainière de Roubaix. De Plasse continued to develop the process and eventually founded a new company titled Sublistatis SA to commercialize the technique. Its US origins began in the 1970s at the Jet Propulsion lab in Pasadena, CA. Here a team led by Wes Hoekstra invented the first printer that could handle the complex dye sublimation printing process. Hoekstra is commonly referred to as the “Father” of the computer image sublimation process due to his valuable contributions to the field.


An Aluminum Dye Sub print installed in a home.