A new technique for solid surface fabricators that was developed in Europe is making its way to North America — dye sublimation. Dye sublimation allows any image or graphic to be transferred onto solid surface through a special heating transfer process.
One of the first places to showcase materials that had underwent this new process was the showroom of GS Tessuti, a design firm based in Italy. Throughout the three-story design studio are numerous examples of the dye sublimation process (see Figure 1).
For the first time this system is being used in the United States by DuPont specialty fabricator Rick Wing of R.D. Wing Co. Inc. of Kirkland, Wash. His first project , provided to Selling Point Industries a Seattle based retail fixture company, was to create a customized Risk® game board for Hasbro as an award to the top Risk players in the world (see Figure 2).
“This new process allows designers to personalize Corian in a completely new way, helping create unique surfaces that feature color photos and graphic designs that can withstand even the toughest environments,” said Wing.
How It Works
Dye sublimation is a process by which an image or graphic is converted into an ink plate and then transferred onto a sheet of solid surface through a heat and compression process (see Figure 3). Unlike conventional inks, sublimation water-based inks are converted directly from a solid to a gas under heat and pressure, causing them to bond with the solid surface, which becomes porous at 350 F (see Figure 4). Upon cooling, the solid surface reverts to its nonporous state and the ink molecules return to their solid state, permanently transferring the image or graphic onto the surface of the material. The printed solid surface can then be repolished and thermoformed in the same way as unprinted material (see Figure 5).
Additionally, the sublimation process is cost-effective in comparison to other permanent printing or imaging techniques or inlays. Its rapid cycle time allows fast turnaround for proofing, sampling and production.
“Dye-sublimation is a designer’s dream come true because it is cutting-edge technology that combines beautiful designs and patterns with the function and versatility of DuPont Corian,” said Alexa Dembek, North American Business Manager for DuPont Surfaces Commercial Business Segment.
For more information contact DuPont Surfaces at 800-4-CORIAN.