Digital Sublimation Printer
Digital printers are for short runs. There is little setup time but they are very slow. Paper & ink are expensive.
Litho Sublimation Press
Litho presses are used for printing long runs. They print very fast and can print good quality. They are limited by print size and a high setup cost.
How it works.
The sublimation process is a process in which paper is imaged using clothing dyes instead of regular printing ink. The dyes on the printed paper are then transferred to another substrate using heat and pressure.
The sublimation inks contain dye. The dye printed paper is placed against the synthetic material. When heat and pressure is applied to the sandwiched paper&material the dyes within the sublimation ink turn into a gas and chemically bond with the synthetic material. When the dye printed paper and synthetic material are separated the material ends up with a reverse image of the dye printed paper. The dye printed paper can only be used once.
The dye printed paper (sub transfers) are usually imaged using the offset, silk screen or ink jet processes.
The final substrate is usually a synthetic material. Most organic materials such as cotton don't work well.