sublimate over

Can You Sublimate Over Sublimation? A Complete Guide

So, you’ve finished your first sublimation project, and it looks good. But now you’re wondering if you can add more to it. Is it possible to put another design on top? Let’s find out!

Technically, you can sublimate over sublimation because the polymeric materials continue to take in the sublimation ink. However, you may encounter some challenges. To be successful, you must ensure the designs and colors align well. If they don’t, you may end up ruining your current design.

T-Shirt with Sublimation Print


This article discusses whether you can sublimate over sublimations and explains some of the problems you may run into when you overlap your sublimation.

Can You Sublimate Over Sublimation on All Surfaces?

In general, you can overlap your sublimation on any substrate that has been sublimated before. As long as the already sublimated substrate retains its polymeric materials, sublimation ink will still attach and bond to the substrate.

Yes. You may sublimate to all surfaces that you have previously sublimated before. This is regardless of its medium – the substrate can be a garment, a tumbler, a mug, etc.

This is because if previous sublimation is successful, it means the surface contains the necessary polymeric materials.

The surface could already contain polymeric materials naturally, such as in polyester fabric, or someone may have added it, such as with a sublimation coating added to a piece of glass.

For example, if you have previously sublimated successfully on a piece of leather. This means you have already applied some sublimation coating to the surface, meaning there is a layer of polymeric materials that can take in new sublimation.

Want to know more about how sublimation coating works? Understanding this can help you when you’re deciding whether to sublimate over an existing design. You see, a quality sublimation coating plays a crucial role in ensuring that your designs look vibrant and last longer.

However, if you sublimated indirectly by using a heat transfer vinyl (HTV) added to a non-sublimable surface, such as cotton, further sublimation may work. If you have removed the background of the HTV, it may no longer be wide enough to take the additional design.

Suppose you intend to overlap sublimation on an HTV. In that case, you may want to start over. Just remove the HTV layer and sublimate both designs as a single layer of HTV.

If you’re considering using heat transfer vinyl (HTV) for your overlapping sublimation, it’s important to choose the right type. Did you know that you can actually sublimate on white HTV? Yep, it’s a handy trick that can help you experiment with new designs.

Why Do People Sublimate Over Sublimation?

Some attempt to sublimate over sublimation because they wanted to experiment with a layered sublimation design. In contrast, some wanted to add new designs only after sublimating. Some may also try to sublimate over sublimation to try to fix sublimation mistakes.

Layering: Some printers may consider overlapping their sublimation because they wish to experiment with layering their sublimation. For example, they wish to experiment with first sublimating only graphics or logos and then adding a second sublimation containing some wordings to complement the first layer.

Adding New Design to Sublimation: Sometimes, a printer may realize after sublimating a design, there could be further enhancements done. They may think of changing the font, adding new design features, or color tone.

Fading Sublimation: Sublimation designs may fade over time, such as overexposure to the sun or overwashing. The printer may think of re-sublimate the same design as a way to refresh the sublimation.

Changing Color:  Sometimes, printers may grow tired of the sublimation design and want to refresh the design by changing its color. This could be done by sublimating a layer of color on top of the current design and altering the original printer’s color choice. For example, say the current sublimated design is yellow. If the printer sublimated a layer of blue on top of the yellow color, the area should become green since sublimation ink is translucent.

By the way, ever wondered what kind of ink gets the best results for sublimation? It’s crucial to use the right ink, especially if you’re planning to layer designs. The wrong ink could mess up both your new and old designs.

Fixing Mistakes: Printers make mistakes like making a design too small or printing in too light a color. Depending on the design or the color, the printer may try to fix the mistakes by re-sublimating. The design could be made bigger, or the colors made slightly darker to cover up previously botched sublimation.

Are There Problems In Overlapping Sublimation?

Color and design positioning are some of the issues to be careful about when overlapping sublimation. Wrong color choices may result in the newly sublimated design altering the color of the previous design. Incorrect positioning may affect the overall aesthetics of the design, possibly ruining the previous sublimation.

Color: When overlapping sublimation, be sure the new and old colors together will create the desired colors. This is because newly sublimated designs will alter the color of the previous design.

Marbled pink and purple inks

For example, if the particular area of the previous design is red, and the new sublimation design for that area is blue. In that case, the final sublimation result will cause the area to turn out purple-ish.

This means printers must spend time ensuring that all the areas they intend to re-sublimate will turn out in the colors they want.

With so much time spent, and even if the color turns out well, it may be very hard to predict the intensity of the new color.

Taking the previous example, say you managed to blend the blue and red colors into purple. The purple may not be in the intensity or shade that you want.

Another thing to note with color is that sublimation colors are a one-way street. It can only go darker and never lighter. This means when selecting a color for the new sublimation design, we recommend choosing slightly darker colors. The darker color blends better with the previous sublimation.

Design Positioning:

The next thing to think about when overlapping sublimation is ensuring you nailed the new design’s positioning.

Wrongly positioned sublimation causes misalignment between the old and new sublimation. This may potentially ruin the overall aesthetics of the design.

You may want to perform the alignment on a bright background with some lighting, similar to an X-ray film viewer.

You can then clearly view how the new and old designs may match and line up. Once you have aligned the two, secure them with heat-resistant tape, using lots of tape to be sure things stay in place.

When performing the sublimation process, be gentle with each step, such as placing the substrate on the heat press and closing the heat press. Being gentle avoids misalignment between the old and new designs on the sublimation paper.

Can You Use Sublimation Paper Twice?

You should never use sublimation paper twice because the sublimation paper may not be able to hold on to ink as well as new ink. Also, never use paper to make a second print. A used sublimation paper may also not have enough ink left in the paper for a successful second sublimation. Always use a new sublimation paper to ensure the best print result.

When overlapping sublimation, you may think of reusing your old sublimation paper. This is generally a bad idea.

You do not want to reuse your sublimation paper in any situation. Manufacturers make sublimation papers for one-time use, and reusing them may affect the sublimation’s overall result.

When talking about reusing sublimation papers, it’s important to remember that not all sublimation papers are created equal. Some are better at holding ink, and using top-quality paper can really make your design pop.

Now, first, if you reprint on used sublimation paper, the special coating will be unable to hold the sublimation ink like new paper. This means your paper will have less ink to transfer to the substrate during sublimation, resulting in a faded sublimation.

Secondly, suppose you have already printed the sublimation paper, but you notice that there is still some ink on the paper.

You may think you can finish the ink on a second sublimation, but the results will probably not meet your expectations. Usually, there is simply not enough ink to transfer to the new substrate. You will most likely end up with a faded sublimation design, which won’t make you happy.

Instead, if you notice ink left on the paper after you have printed, you should recheck your sublimation settings. Pay particular attention to the heat press settings.

With the right pressure, heat, and timing settings on your heatpress, you should have very little, almost no ink left on your sublimation paper.

Got all your settings right but still not getting the results you want? Sometimes, the issue could be with your heat press. Ensuring you have the best heat press for your sublimation needs can make a significant difference.

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