In sublimation printing, selecting the right type of paper is crucial for achieving high-quality results. Two types of paper commonly discussed in the sublimation community are butcher and parchment. While they may seem similar, they serve different purposes during the sublimation process. This blog post will explore the differences between butcher and parchment papers and help you determine which is best for your sublimation projects.
Understanding Sublimation Printing
Before we dive into the specifics of butcher and parchment paper, let’s briefly touch on what sublimation printing entails. Sublimation is a process where special ink turns into a gas when heated to high temperatures and then bonds with a polyester-coated surface. This method is popular for creating vibrant, long-lasting prints on fabrics, ceramics, and metals.
Butcher Paper in Sublimation
Butcher paper is sturdy and FDA-approved for wrapping and storing meat and fish. It’s also commonly used in sublimation printing. Here’s why:
Heat Resistance: Butcher paper can withstand the high temperatures required for sublimation printing, making it a reliable choice.
Moisture Absorption: It’s excellent at absorbing excess ink and moisture during the sublimation process, which helps prevent unwanted ink transfer and ghosting.
Protection: Keep your equipment clean; butcher paper can protect your heat press from any stray ink that might escape during pressing.
However, it’s important to note that not all butcher paper is coated with silicone or other non-stick substances, which can be essential when preventing sticking during sublimation.
Parchment Paper in Sublimation
Parchment paper is another option often used in baking due to its non-stick properties. Here’s how it stacks up for sublimation:
Non-Stick Surface: Parchment paper is coated with silicone, making it non-stick. It is particularly beneficial when pressing designs onto substrates as it prevents sticking and allows for easy release once complete.
Heat Resistance: Like butcher paper, parchment paper can also handle the high temperatures of sublimation printing.
Translucency: Parchment paper is generally more translucent than butcher paper, making it easier to see your design through the paper if alignment is crucial.
However, parchment paper is not as absorbent as butcher paper, which can lead to issues with ink bleed if not handled properly. Additionally, because it’s non-stick, it doesn’t protect the heat press from ink as effectively as butcher paper.
Which Should You Use for Sublimation?
The choice between butcher and parchment paper depends on your specific needs and preferences. Butcher paper is the way to go if you’re looking for a paper that can absorb excess ink and protect your heat press. On the other hand, if you need a non-stick surface to prevent your substrate from sticking to the paper after pressing, parchment paper might be the better option.
Here are some general guidelines to help you decide:
Use butcher paper if you’re working with a design with heavy ink coverage or are concerned about ink bleed-through.
Opt for parchment paper when you need to see through the paper for precise placement or when working with materials that might stick to other types of paper.
Reusing these papers for sublimation is not recommended because they can retain ink from previous uses, which could transfer onto your next project.
Yes, a protective layer like butcher or parchment paper is essential to prevent ink transfer onto your heat press and ensure a clean print.
Either side is typically fine for butcher paper since it’s usually uncoated. For parchment paper, ensure that the silicone-coated side faces the substrate to take advantage of its non-stick properties.
Both butcher and parchment papers have their place in the sublimation printing process. By understanding their unique properties and how they interact with your substrates and designs, you can decide which to use for optimal results. Always test your chosen paper with your specific equipment and materials, as this will best indicate what works well for your unique situation. Happy printing!