How Long Does Sublimation Ink Last?
Dye-sublimation printing enjoys wide applications in home décor, sports apparel, fashion accessories and apparel, keepsake items, etc., due to its high-quality, long-lasting prints.
The ink turns into gas and gets embedded into the favorite or other substrate to form a permanent bond.
Although the cost of sublimation vs vinyl and other printing methods is a bit higher, it is still a better option, judging by the final results.
If you’re just getting started in this field, you might ask yourself how long the sublimation ink lasts? Do cartridges expire? And how many prints or shirts can you print with a given amount of sublimation ink?
Below, we’ll take you through a detailed discussion of sublimation ink longevity and additional details you need to know about this type of ink.
How Long does Sublimation Ink last?
Sublimation ink lasts for up to six months when in the printer or opened. Most folks argue that you can still use the ink past the “use by” date indicated on the cartridge without any problems. But we advise you to strictly use your ink for 6 months from the time of installing it.
Now that you know the sublimation ink in your Epson sublimation printer has a lifespan, it would be wise to not leave it inside the printer for too long. If you do this, you’ll lose it. If it stays in there for too long, it will result in issues like head clogs, banding, and color shifting.
Experts recommend leaving your sublimation printer on to help turn it into an economical printer that saves as much ink as possible while at the same time extending the device lifespan.
Most people will disagree with this and argue that the printer uses more ink when you leave it on. The truth is, when it stays on, your sublimation printer performs short maintenance cycles to keep the ink flowing and prevent the possibility of clogged heads.
However, shutting down the printer forces it to do a more thorough cleaning cycle the next time you turn it on, resulting in the use of a larger amount of ink.
TIP: Mark your cartridges with the date you install them in your sublimation printer. This will help you keep track of their lifespan and avoid using them past their expiry date.
How long does sublimation ink last in bottle?
If you have a sealed cartridge or unopened bottle of sublimation ink, then you can expect it to last for as long as 2 years. This is the typical shelf life for these inks. However, the exact shelf life period can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some can go up to 3 years.
For instance, Epson explains that their inks last for 2 years, provided you store them in unopened bottles and at temperatures close to 70 degrees. Sawgrass inks, too, have a lifespan of 2 years.
Cosmos inks’ recommended shelf life is 9 to 12 months, provided you store their ink in a cool, dry, and dark place. Cobra sublimation inks will last for about 18 months in a sealed bottle and have a shelf life of up to 1 year.
Always check the specific ink you’re using for more specific details on its expected lifespan.
How long does sublimation ink last on paper?
The sublimation ink can last on a paper for a while as long as you store the prints correctly. This is good news for printing shops that usually encounter large orders for sub printed items and want to print ahead.
However, you need to take a few measures on how you store the printed paper to ensure it stays in good condition by the time you plan to use them.
Below are some quick tips on how to correctly store your sublimation papers:
How long does sublimation last on shirts?
Sublimation transfer on shirts lasts longer than heat transfer vinyl. This is because the sublimation transfer involves permanently embedding the image on the fabric. This is how sublimation typically works:
You start by printing the dye-sub inks on a special transfer paper. Then, you transfer the ink from the sub paper to a shirt using heat. The heat changes the ink from solid to gas state (sublimation process) and enters into the fabric fibers.
Now the polymers in the polyester fabric bond when heated—allowing your design to become permanently embedded into your fabric material.
Unlike HTVs, which involve printing on the shirt surface, sublimation heat transfer involves heated gas ink which becomes fully infused into your fabric to create high-quality, long-lasting prints.
If you’re using Cricut infusible ink and asking yourself, “how long does infusible ink last?” you’ll be relieved to know that this ink is also sublimation and will bond permanently on your shirt for ultimate longevity.
Plus, this ink is ahead of its competition with a crack/peel/flake-free performance.
How long does 100ml of sublimation ink last?
It is hard to decide how long a 100ml sublimation ink bottle will last you. This is because different people have varying printing needs.
Key factors that will affect how long the ink lasts include the density and area of the print. Some of your designs might feature plenty of solid colors and require more ink, e.g., when doping sublimation vinyl for dark shirts. But others will have lots of white, thus consuming less ink.
Regarding the sublimation paper, it will depend on the number of wraps you get from an A4 sheet. Some folks may print 2 per sheet (landscape orientation), while others may print 3 per sheet (portrait). This could cost up to 6p or 4p respectively, depending on your preferences.
How many prints can you get from sublimation ink?
It is also not easy to state the exact number of prints you get from sublimation ink. Again, this is because everyone’s design is different. And what you print and sell is completely different from what another individual does.
A better question would be how much it costs you to print your shirts or other items. The answer will come from accounting for several factors, including coverage area, percentage of coverage area printed, and the number of designs you print on a single page.
When the sublimation ink cartridge is inside the printer, it will last for 6 months. When in an unsealed cartridge or unopened bottle, it will last for approx. 2 years.
The good thing about sublimation ink is that once you transfer it to shirts and other substrates, it permanently bonds with the surface to form high-quality, long-lasting prints.
Our additional advice on how many prints you can make from sublimation ink and how long a bottle of 100ml sub ink lasts will further help you decide whether it’s a viable option.
Having read through this guide and learned crucial info on how long sublimation ink lasts, you’re more informed as you enter the sublimation printing field.