Why is My Sublimation Printer Not Printing Correct Colors?

Table of Contents


Popular for its vibrant and long-lasting results, sublimation printing transfers designs onto a variety of materials. The printer not generating the right colors, though, is a typical problem for many users. Why is my sublimation printer not printing correct colors? For tasks that require precise color reproduction, this can be extremely annoying. Your sublimation printer’s performance will be greatly improved if you take the time to understand and fix these issues.

Understanding Sublimation Printing

It is critical to grasp the nature and operation of sublimation printing before delving into the issues and their remedies. By skipping the liquid phase altogether and going straight to the gas phase, sublimation printing creates prints that last a long time and look amazing because the dye is able to embed itself into the substrate’s fibers. Coated paper, sublimation ink, and a sublimation printer are the specific pieces of machinery needed for this process. Color problems might arise if there are any differences in these parts.

Common Causes of Color Issues in Sublimation Printing

Incorrect ICC Profiles

Sublimation printing’s color management relies heavily on ICC (International Color Consortium) profiles. Color accuracy between your screen and substrate can be improved with the help of these profiles.

What Are ICC Profiles?

Colors should look a certain way on screen and in print, according to ICC profiles. In order for the printer to faithfully translate the colors from the digital file to the printed page, they must calibrate it. Incorrect color translation by the printer might result in erroneous prints if these profiles are not used.

Choosing the Right ICC Profiles

It is critical that you use the appropriate ICC profiles that are tailored to your printer, ink, and substrate combination. Depending on your setup, generic profiles might not be the best option. If you want the greatest results, you may need to make your own ICC profiles, or you can use the ones that the manufacturer provides.

Installing ICC Profiles

To make sure ICC profiles are being used correctly during printing, make sure you install them correctly in your design software. In the color management settings of applications like CorelDRAW or Adobe Photoshop, you can adjust these profiles to correspond with your printer configuration.

Updating ICC Profiles

To keep your printer compatible with any software or firmware updates, it is recommended that you update your ICC profiles on a regular basis. Color inconsistencies could be the result of incompatible or out-of-date profiles.

Sublimation Ink Issues

For sublimation printing to produce accurate colors, the ink type and quality are of utmost importance. Several color issues can result from using low-quality ink.

Quality of Sublimation Ink

For optimal results, use only high-quality sublimation ink that is compatible with your printer model. You risk damaging your printer or getting subpar color reproduction if you use inexpensive or generic inks because they may not have the right chemical composition.

Ink Expiry and Storage

Using sublimation inks that have passed their expiration date might cause color inconsistencies. In addition, to keep the inks’ quality, store them at room temperature and out of direct sunlight.

Compatibility with Printer

Unfortunately, there is a printer incompatibility with sublimation inks. Before you buy ink for your printer, check the manufacturer’s recommendations. Clogging, printhead damage, and inaccurate colors can result from using incompatible ink.

Regular Ink Maintenance

The ink system of your printer can be kept in good working order by checking and maintaining it regularly. Checking the cartridges’ seating and the clarity of the ink lines are part of this process.

Sublimation Paper Problems

The color accuracy and quality of your prints are greatly affected by the type of sublimation paper you use.

Choosing the Right Paper

Proper ink transfer is only possible with sublimation printing paper. Papers that don’t absorb ink properly, such as regular or improper sublimation paper, can result in colors that are dull or even wrong.

Quality of Sublimation Paper

The ink remains on the surface before transferring to the substrate when using high-quality sublimation paper with the appropriate coating. Paper of low quality may soak up the ink too rapidly, resulting in a loss of color and improper transfer.

Properly Storing Sublimation Paper 

To maintain the transfer process and color accuracy, it is recommended to store sublimation paper in a cool, dry place. The paper will retain more of its quality if you keep it flat and out of direct sunlight.

Paper Type for Different Substrates

Sublimation paper types may vary depending on the substrate. To get the most accurate color results, it’s important to use the correct paper with the right substrate.

Heat Press Settings

For sublimation printing to accurately reproduce colors, the heat press settings—including pressure, time, and temperature—are crucial.

Temperature Settings

The substrate and ink specifications should be followed when setting the temperature. Color problems might arise from inefficient ink transfer caused by temperatures that are too high or too low.

Pressure Settings

The ink will transfer evenly to the substrate if you press down on it properly. As a result of uneven pressure, some parts of the print may turn out lighter or darker than expected.

Time Settings

Another factor that impacts the quality of the color is the amount of time the heat press is used for. If the time is too long, the colors will bleed or fade, and if it’s too short, the ink won’t transfer completely.

Calibrating Heat Press

Keeping your heat press calibrated on a regular basis keeps the pressure and temperature settings accurate. Uneven printing and color problems might result from presses that aren’t calibrated properly.

Printer Maintenance

Maintaining your sublimation printer on a regular basis is key to achieving accurate colors every time.

Cleaning Print Heads

Sublimation printing color issues are often caused by clogged print heads. Clogs can be avoided and ink can flow smoothly with regular cleaning.

Replacing Worn Parts

If the print heads, rollers, or belts are worn out, the print quality might suffer. You can keep the color accuracy up by checking and replacing these parts regularly.

Firmware Updates

Maintaining an up-to-date firmware on your printer is essential for optimal performance and the elimination of any known issues that could compromise print quality.

Routine Maintenance Schedule

Keeping your printer in top operating condition and catching problems early are both made easier with a regular maintenance plan.

Troubleshooting Common Sublimation Printer Issues

How to Fix Color Issues in Sublimation Printing?

The first step in fixing color issues is understanding their root causes. To fix these issues, here is a methodical way.

Assessing the Problem

Check the printer, ink, paper, and heat press settings to see if they are the source of the problem. Locate the source of the issue by running test prints.

Adjusting Printer Settings

Make sure your printer is set up correctly. Be sure you’re using the right color mode on your printer and that you’ve installed the correct ICC profiles.

Verifying Ink and Paper

Make sure you’re using the right paper and ink for your sublimation printer. Inspect the ink for indications of spoilage or incorrect storage.

Calibrating the Heat Press

Check the accuracy of your heat press’s calibration. Make sure the time, pressure, and temperature settings are suitable for your substrate and ink by checking them.

Why Are My Sublimation Prints Coming Out Faded?

Sublimation printing frequently experiences fading prints, which can be caused by various factors.

Insufficient Heat Press Time

The ink may not transfer completely, resulting in faded prints, if the heat press time is too short. Be sure to follow the substrate’s instructions for the recommended time settings.

Low Temperature Settings

The ink may not sublimate properly if your heat press is set to a low temperature. Make sure the temperature is adjusted to match the ink and substrate specifications.

Poor Quality Ink or Paper

Fading prints might be the consequence of using low-quality paper or ink. Use only premium materials made specifically for sublimation printing.

Substrate Coating Issues

For sublimation to work on certain substrates, a special coating is needed. Before you apply the ink, make sure your substrates are adequately coated.

Best Practices for Sublimation Printer Color Accuracy

The key to reliable color reproduction in sublimation printing is constant adherence to industry standards.

Regular Calibration

If you want reliable results from your printer and heat press, you need to calibrate them often.

Using High-Quality Materials

Purchasing premium ink, paper, and substrates will save money in the long term by enhancing print quality and decreasing color issues.

Consistent Maintenance

Preventing problems like clogged print heads and worn parts through regular maintenance guarantees dependable performance from your printer.

Proper Storage Conditions

You can keep your substrates, ink, and paper in pristine condition for as long as possible by treating them correctly.

Common Sublimation Printing Problems and Solutions

You can better manage your sublimation printing process if you are aware of the most common issues and how to fix them.

Color Banding

When print heads become clogged or the printer’s settings are incorrect, color banding can happen. This problem can be avoided with regular cleaning and correct setup.

Incorrect Colors

Incorrect ICC profiles or low-quality ink can cause colors to turn out wrong. You can fix this by making sure you use high-quality materials and the right profiles.


Substrate movement during heat pressing causes ghosting. To avoid this problem, make sure to use heat-resistant tape to attach the substrate.

Substrate Damage

Incorrect heat press settings can cause substrate damage. One way to avoid this is to use the correct settings for temperature, pressure, and time.

How to Calibrate Sublimation Printer Colors

To get the most out of your sublimation printer, calibrating it for accurate colors is a must.

Using Calibration Tools

Making precise ICC profiles that are optimized for your printer setup is made easier with the use of color calibration tools like spectrophotometers.

Software Calibration

Color accuracy in both the screen and printed versions of a design can be achieved with the help of the built-in calibration tools found in many design programs.

Test Prints

To fine-tune the calibration process, it is helpful to perform test prints and adjust settings based on the results.

Professional Services

When dealing with complicated setups, it is sometimes best to use professional calibration services to ensure the most accurate results.

What Causes Color Discrepancies in Sublimation Printing?

The best way to deal with color discrepancies is to understand what causes them.

Inconsistent Materials

Color inconsistencies may result from the use of materials that are not compatible with one another. Color accuracy can be maintained by making sure all materials used are compatible.

Environmental Factors

Humidity and temperature are two environmental variables that can impact the sublimation process. It is easier to get consistent results when you control the printing environment.

Printer Wear and Tear

Wear and tear on printer parts from frequent use can cause color problems. This can be reduced with routine maintenance and the replacement of worn parts.

User Errors

Colour inconsistencies can be the result of human mistake, such as adjusting the settings too high or handling the materials too roughly. This can be avoided with the right training and following standard procedures.

How to Adjust ICC Profiles for Sublimation Printers

To fix color problems with sublimation printers, you need to adjust the ICC profiles.

Creating Custom Profiles

To get the most accurate colors, you should make your own ICC profiles that are specific to your printer, ink, and substrate.

Using Profiling Software

The use of professional profiling software facilitates the creation of accurate profiles and provides fine-grained control over color settings.

Regular Profile Updates

Keep your ICC profiles compatible with your printer and software by updating them regularly.

Consulting Experts

To get the best results, it’s a good idea to consult with color management experts who can help you understand and fix complicated color issues.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my sublimation printer not printing correct colors?

There are several reasons why your sublimation printer might not print correct colors, including incorrect ICC profiles, poor-quality ink or paper, improper heat press settings, and lack of regular maintenance.

How do I fix faded sublimation prints?

Faded sublimation prints can be fixed by ensuring the correct heat press time and temperature settings, using high-quality ink and paper, and verifying that the substrate has the appropriate coating.

What are ICC profiles, and why are they important?

ICC profiles are data files that ensure color accuracy in printing. They calibrate the printer to accurately translate colors from digital images to physical prints, making them essential for consistent color reproduction.

How often should I clean my sublimation printer?

Regular cleaning of your sublimation printer, particularly the print heads, is recommended to prevent clogs and maintain color accuracy. This can be done monthly or as needed based on usage.

What should I do if my sublimation printer prints incorrect colors despite following all guidelines?

If your sublimation printer continues to print incorrect colors despite following all guidelines, consider consulting with a professional for calibration services or contacting the manufacturer for support.


Improving sublimation printing’s color accuracy isn’t easy, but it’s possible with knowledge of the main causes of color discrepancies. Why is my sublimation printer not printing correct colors? Producing vivid, lifelike colors in sublimation requires careful attention to detail at every stage, from selecting the right ICC profiles and high-quality inks to checking the heat press settings and performing routine maintenance. You can get the most out of your sublimation printer by methodically fixing common issues and following best practices; this will guarantee that your prints are always high-quality and beautiful. Keep in mind that sublimation printing is an investment that pays off in the end thanks to better print quality and less frustration caused by improper setup and maintenance.

Spread the love