Many producers of sublimated products have occasionally experienced the sublimation paper browning and sticking to their products. Paper browning and sticking can occur when using any type of heating device- a flat press such as a clamshell and swing-away press, when using a mug press, or when heating in a convection oven. Getting the paper off of the product can be a tedious, time consuming task at best and often leaves a slight film on the product that can be difficult to remove. Occasionally the product may not be usable or sellable due to the film and even image quality issues that can also occur. Here are some ways to minimize or eliminate this problem.
Reduce Press/Oven Temperature and Time
One sign that the temperature and/or heating time is too much is when the transfer paper is brown after removing from the press or oven. The transfer paper can brown but in some cases not cause the paper to stick to the product, but many times the two problems occur simultaneously.
Flat presses and Mug presses: When sublimating products for personalization, heating products with press settings of 390-400F for 50-60 sec. has been the general baseline range to use for many hard and soft goods. More recently, new sublimation products are hitting the market that require less intense press settings. Instead of pressing at 390F, some products only require 360F or lower to achieve successful transfers. Press times can remain the same, or can be reduced to 40-45 sec. in addition to the lower temperatures.
Convection Oven: If heating with a convection oven, the same pattern of lower temperature and heat time applies. A good starting point may be to reduce heat between 10-30 degrees and/or reduce heating time by 1-3 minutes.
In addition to reducing press and/or oven heat and heating time, reducing the amount of pressure on the product can also help reduce the paper sticking issue. Often times reducing the pressure is most effective when done in conjunction with reduced heat and time.
When possible, it is always best to check the product recommendations or Tech Tips for the best recommended settings for sublimation, understanding that the settings listed are only intended to be "starting" settings. Small adjustments may need to be made with the time, temperature, and pressure settings to fine-tune the best combination for your particular equipment.
Try a different Sublimation Paper
For situations where reducing the heat, time, and pressure settings do not fix the paper sticking issue, this often means that the sublimation paper being used may simply not be compatible with the surface of the sublimation product it is used on. Polyester surfaces on sublimation products are different and can vary from one manufacturer to the other. Just the same, sublimation papers are different from one manufacturer to another and therefore can vary in the way they interact with sublimation products.