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SubliFilm Information


SubliFilm is a clear sheet of film with a bonding agent incorporated on one side. It is adhered to the substrate at the time of sublimation. It will conform to broad curves such as dimples and edges of tiles. It will also bond well on porous surfaces such as wood and cloth. The dull surface is the bonding side.


SubliFilm will sublimate well with all dye sublimation inks. In preliminary testing it has been found to require about 10% less time than other coated substrates. If over timed it will get slightly blurry. If under timed the ink will not get hot enough to penetrate.

The timing depends on the actual temperature of the film, so substrates that draw a lot of heat will need longer time. Metal of .125 thickness will take longer than .03 thickness. The amount of insulation between the platen and the transfer will also affect the timing. A Teflon sheet and extra layers of paper will make a difference.

The best judge of timing is by subtracting 10% from what you would normally use on a precoated substrate of the if the image blurs. Due to the fact that tile heats slowly, the extra time of 'normal' will insure full transfer of dyes.

Due to the slight softening of SubliFilm at 400 degrees, irregularities in the pressure material against the transfer will slightly leave an impression in the surface. A sponge rubber platen will leave a slight broad 'orange peel' effect, which is quite pleasing because it much reduces any glare that might otherwise occur if it was a high gloss surface. Depending on the cell size of the sponge the 'orange peel' effect will vary. With the new heat transfer pads that I am testing it looks very like an orange peel but with only a very faint depth for the dimples


Prior to sublimating:
A sharp roller cutter is recommended. A pair of scissors or sharp razor blade may be used also. If cutting on a standard trimming board, you must use pressure towards the stationary blade to keep the film from pulling. SubliFilm is a very tough film and cuts as such.

After sublimating:
SubliFilm can easily be trimmed after sublimation using a very sharp razor blade. You should allow the product to cool to room temperature to trim easily as SubliFilm does soften slightly with higher temperature.


In rare cases there may be a slight bleed of the bonding agent. If the film is larger than the substrate the bonding agent will trim off with the excess film. If the film is smaller than the substrate there will be some bleed on wood. The manufacturer recommends Goof Off to remove the bonding agent.

Goof Off has been tested on tiles. It takes a lot less work than paint thinner and does not affect the film. Be sure to read the warnings on Goof Off. On other substrates, pretest on an inconspicuous place to be sure that the substrate can withstand it. Goof Off 2 does NOT work.

Paint thinner and a lot of elbow grease does work without affecting the film. Lacquer thinner, denatured alcohol, acetone, and MEK have little or no effect on the bonding agent. MEK will affect the film, so avoid MEK.


Using 100% cotton with the film realizes the same results, without any bond bleed. It does have quite a 'hand' because it is a film and very tough. It is recommended as standard practice to round the corners on material. Testing on cotton produced the following results: Hot wash, hot dry, hot wash with bleach, hot dry produces no fading. Bleach is NOT recommended. The film does get wrinkled because the fabric does also. To iron use low temperatures, below 230 degrees F and iron inside out.


Do not clean substrates with glass cleaners before sublimating. Windex (tm) and other glass cleaners contain some silicon oil to improve shine. Unfortunately this can also prevent a perfect bond to the substrate. Denatured alcohol usually works very well and leaves no residue.

After sublimation any cleaner that will not scratch polyester may be used. Although the film has shown resistance to bleach, bleaching cleaners should be avoided.


Very Ppreliminary testing has been done. You can sublimate onto SubliFilm that is laid on a good release paper, like the paper on the back of foam tape. The times and other considerations of then pressing it onto a product have not been tested as yet. The film will adhere at 250 degrees F, preventing resublimation of high energy inks, but trapped air bubbles are not yet known. Unless the substrate can take 250 degrees F but not 400 degrees F why bother with the extra step?


Do not pre coat a substrate for later use. While it appears to work, the film will faintly shrink at 400 degrees during sublimation. This will leave very slight uncoated edges without an image. If pre coated at 400 degrees F, might as well sublimate at the same time.


The manufacturer states "Ideal for all outside uses." This has not been tested by us, but time will tell. It is a major manufacturer so I feel safe with their claim. Remember that the film is rated for outdoor usage, the inks may have problems. The inks are protected by the film, the bonding agent absorbs most of the dye through the film, leaving a polyester protective coating. This helps with ozone and humidity but not UV.


Do not use on anything that cannot take the temperature/time of pressing.

CD's cannot take the temperature/time of pressing.
Flexible engraving stock cannot take the temperature/time of pressing.
The film is so tough that you cannot engrave cleanly through without pulling and stretching the film.

Click here to email Mick at Cactus Coatings for pricing and samples.