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How We Do What We Do: Sublimation

Posted by Danielle on

Our sublimated products

Our Sublimation Press

A lot of what we do at Awards of Excellence (AoE) is sublimation. One of the ways we do this is by sublimating metal plates. Sublimating is when something solid becomes a gas without becoming a liquid first (Source).

Probably the most popular use of this process is when dry ice goes straight from ice to vapor and how they get all the water out of freeze-dried foods. For our purposes, ink is the substance in question; we print an image (using any colors) onto special paper with a sublimation printer, secure the paper against a metal plate, press the plate and paper against each other with two very hot plates, wait 60 seconds, then take the plate and paper out. When we peel the paper away from the metal plate (with gloves!), the image has been transferred onto the metal. The heat caused the solid to turn to gas, which was immediately transferred to the metal and was turned into a solid again when cooled. It's a little bit like magic, but it's purely science.

The word "sublimation" has been used since the late 1550s and comes from the Latin sublimatus, meaning "to lift up" (Source), but the process itself was first explained by Jabir ibn Hayyan (Gerber) in the 700s (Source). Gerber is known as the father of chemistry and having discovered dry ice. 

Nowadays, anyone with the right press can sublimate ink onto metal, fabric, paper, etc. A lot of neat things can be made through sublimation. So, if you want a plaque, name plate, medal, or gift that is fully customizable, ask us about it. We'll even design it for you.

A sublimated plaque

A sublimated clock plaque

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