Sublimation On Cotton Vs Polyester Fabrics – A comparison

Written By PrintingPro

Sublimation is an ingenious printing method that enables vivid and long-term visuals to be transferred onto various materials. The combination of specialized inks and heat press technology effectively turns ink into gas form before infusing it within the fibers of cotton and polyester fabrics – among others. As such, sublimation has become one of today’s most popular fabric decoration solutions. When contemplating the benefits and drawbacks of Sublimation On Cotton Vs Polyester for a particular application, it is beneficial to understand the fundamental distinctions between them. In this article, we will explore how color and durability difference between these two materials, in addition to cost and availability considerations. Ultimately, individual preference will guide which choice best suits your needs.

Sublimation On Cotton Vs Polyester

Cotton is an eco-friendly, luxurious staple fiber sourced from the cotton plant. Its fibers are composed of almost 100% cellulose and naturally boast a soft white color. Highly flexible and versatile, it’s used to create everything from apparel to bedding – even towels. Notoriously breathable and absorbent with long-lasting wearability, there’s no fabric quite like cotton when you need comfort that lasts. Cotton is a renewable resource that is simple to cultivate and process and a great pick for fabric production that’s respectful of the environment.

When it comes to synthetic materials, polyester is the gold standard. Derived from petroleum-based products, this fabric has all the qualities you would expect in a high-quality material: strength, durability, and wrinkle resistance. And since it resists shrinking, stretching, and wrinkling more than most other fabrics out there – plus its ability to hold dye well – it makes it ideal for clothes, upholstery, home furnishings, and numerous applications in sublimation printing. Polyester is a champion in the world of outdoor and sportswear: not only does it have excellent UV radiation resistance, but its durability against harsh weather conditions makes it simply unbeatable. Additionally, due to its easily mass-produced nature, polyester fabrics are incredibly affordable – allowing you to enjoy quality apparel without breaking the bank.

Sublimation on Polyester:

Polyester is a fantastic synthetic fabric for sublimation printing, producing vivid and long-lasting colors. The dye attaches directly to the material’s fibers, making your print incredibly durable with no fading or peeling. Plus, polyester requires lower temperatures than cotton when printed on, so you won’t have any shrinking either. Despite its impressive properties, polyester isn’t quite as soft and comfortable as natural fabrics like cotton, nor does it last quite as long. Additionally, prints may not come out looking quite as sharp or detailed compared to other materials too.

Read: Best Polyester spray for sublimation:

Advantages of Sublimation on Polyester:

Vibrant Colors:

Polyester is renowned for its vibrant, long-lasting colors when using sublimation ink printing. The dye adheres to the fabric’s fibers, providing a print that will never fade or peel over time.

Lower Temperature Required:

Polyester sublimation requires a significantly lower temperature to print designs onto fabrics than other materials, such as cotton. This helps diminish the risk of burning or damaging the fabric while printing and ensures an impeccable result every time.

No Shrinkage:

Polyester fabric is vastly superior to cotton in terms of its resilience to heat, as it does not shrink when exposed. This remarkable quality eliminates the extra step of pre-treating polyester before printing, further streamlining production time and costs.

Disadvantages of Sublimation on Polyester:

Not as Soft and Comfortable:

Polyester, a synthetic material, is not as supple or airy to the touch as natural fabrics like cotton. Consequently, utilizing sublimation-printed products on polyester may be less comfortable to wear.

Print May Not be as High-Quality:

Polyester sublimation offers a vivid spectrum of colors, yet the print may not always be as sharp or have intricate details as other materials.

Less Durable:

Polyester is less long-lasting than natural fabrics like cotton and is more prone to wear and tear over time.

Read: How To Remove Sublimation Print From Polyester?

Sublimation on Cotton:

Cotton is renowned for its gentleness and comfort, making it the ideal fabric for clothing items like t-shirts and hoodies. Sublimation printing on cotton creates vivid prints that are both strong and long-lasting; however, since this requires a higher temperature than other fabrics, such as polyester, the colors will not be quite as vibrant. Additionally, shrinkage can occur when exposed to high temperatures during production or after multiple washes.

Read: How Can You Sublimate on Cotton?

Advantages of Sublimation on Cotton:

Soft and Comfortable:

Cotton is renowned for its cloud-like softness and breathability, making it an ideal fabric to use when designing apparel close to the skin, such as t-shirts and hoodies.

High-Quality Print:

Obtain vivid, long-lasting prints with sublimation printing on cotton. The process enables you to print various hues and intricate artwork onto the fabric. High-quality, durable results, too–what more could you ask for?


Cotton is a resilient fabric that will retain its design indefinitely because it can withstand frequent washes and everyday wear. With this long-lasting material, you can be sure your clothing items or other products are built for longevity.

Disadvantages of Sublimation on Cotton:

Requires a Higher Temperature:

Cotton sublimation requires higher temperatures than fabrics such as polyester. As a result, extra care must be applied to hinder the fabric from burning or degrading during printing.

Not as Vibrant as Polyester:

The vibrancy of color on cotton compared to polyester is noticeably more subdued due to the fibers in cotton absorbing a portion of ink during sublimation, ultimately producing a less vibrant image.

Shrinkage May Occur:

To prevent shrinkage, precautionary steps must be taken to prep the cotton fabric for printing before being exposed to high temperatures. By doing so, you will minimize any negative effects caused by heat on your material. 


Is sublimation printing on polyester durable?

Indeed, sublimation printing on polyester yields stunningly vivid and resilient prints that won’t fade or peel over time.

Does sublimation printing on cotton require a higher temperature?

When printing on cotton materials, a greater temperature is necessary for comparison to fabrics like polyester. One must take extra precautions to ensure the cloth will not get scorched or harmed during sublimation.

Is sublimation printing on cotton as vibrant as on polyester?

Not. As cotton naturally soaks up some of the ink, it’s unsurprising that sublimation colors on this fabric aren’t as vivid as polyester. Nevertheless, the prints created are still superb and long-lasting – ideal for various garments.

Does sublimation printing on cotton cause shrinkage?

Yes, high temperatures can cause cotton to shrink. Pre-treatment is essential before printing to reduce this risk and preserve the fabric’s quality.

Sublimation printing is optimal for achieving bright and lasting prints on fabric. While polyester can produce the brightest colors, cotton has the distinct advantage of being softer and more comfortable for garments. It does require a higher temperature than other fabrics when sublimated, but with pre-treatment before printing, you won’t have any problems with shrinkage. All in all, sublimating onto cotton will offer up high-quality prints that last long after its made.

When selecting a fabric for sublimation printing, it is critical to consider the unique demands of your project. For vivid colors and long-lasting wear, polyester should be your preferred choice; however, cotton is the way to go if you’re searching for something softer with comfort in mind.

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Written By PrintingPro

PrintingPro Konti is a seasoned wordsmith with a fervor for crafting enlightening and captivating content. With a wealth of experience in crafting blog posts and product guides within the printing industry, Konti has firmly positioned himself as the go-to authority for readers in search of valuable insights within this multifaceted and dynamically evolving sector. As a recognized expert in the printing domain, Konti possesses an exhaustive grasp of cutting-edge technologies, emerging trends, and industry best practices. He adeptly harnesses this knowledge to generate content that not only informs but also engrosses, ensuring that readers stay abreast of the latest developments in digital printing, offset printing, and 3D printing.