Nylon is a go-to fabric for activewear and athletic apparel.
Known for its stretch, breathability, and moisture-wicking properties, nylon makes lightweight and comfortable garments.
But can you sublimate dye custom designs and prints onto nylon fabric?
Or will the ink just wash out?
In this beginner’s guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about sublimating on the various types of nylon fabrics.
Can You Sublimate Nylon Fabric?
The short answer is yes, you can sublimate onto nylon fabric!
Nylon is a synthetic polymer material that can readily absorb sublimation dyes when heat opens up the fibers.
However, there are a few things to keep in mind for the best results when sublimating nylon…
6 Tips for Sublimating on Nylon
While nylon can be sublimated, you need to finesse the process a bit.
Here are my top 6 tips:
1. Use Lower Temperatures
Nylon melts more easily than polyester – so use gentler, lower temps! I recommend starting around 350°F and slowly increasing only as needed.
2. Watch for Ink Migration
Some nylons absorb dye really aggressively. This can cause the ink to bleed beyond your printed area. Keep designs at least 0.5 inches from the edges.
3. Expect Vintage-Looking Prints
I often get softer, muted prints on nylon versus the bold vibrant ones on polyester. It can be a cool distressed vintage look though!
4. Check Wash Permanence
For me, ink adherence varies on different nylon blends. Some say it washes out quickly for them too. Definitely run wash tests on your prints!
5. Use Inks Formulated for Nylon
These are designed to bond best with nylon fibers. Avoid regular polyester sublimation inks.
6. Add a Nylon Catalyst
For water-resistant nylon, add a catalyst to the ink. This helps the ink grab onto the fabric and improves print longevity.
It takes some trial and error, but you can absolutely get fantastic, wash-fast sublimated prints on nylon!
Why Choose Nylon Over Polyester for Sublimation?
While polyester is the popular fabric for sublimating, nylon has some nice perks:
Stretch and Recovery
Nylon has awesome elasticity and shape retention.
Activewear and athletic gear move and flex, so this is crucial!
Soft and Silky Feel
Nylon has a luxurious, silk-like look and feel. Polyester can sometimes seem “plastic-y” and crisp.
The strong nylon fibers resist wear, abrasion, and pilling much better than other synthetics over time.
Nylon absorbs a bit more moisture than polyester, allowing air to pass through. Great for sweating in sports gear!
For items like sports uniforms, yoga pants, swimsuits and more – nylon really can’t be beat!
How to Get Ideal Results Sublimating Nylon
To get the most out of sublimating on nylon, here are my best tips:
Always Test Print First
Seriously, run some test prints on nylon scraps before committing to bulk printing. Dial in the perfect time and temp.
Start Low and Slow
Begin with a lower temp and shorter press time to avoid melting delicate nylon fibers. Slowly tweak up in small increments.
Use Press Cover Sheets
Protect your heat press plates from ink overflow with reusable cover sheets like Teflon or parchment paper. Easy cleanup!
Pre-Wash the Fabric
Wash nylon to preshrink it prior to printing – this prevents distortion or warping after the fact.
Allow Ink to Fully Cure
Give sublimated prints 24-48 hours for ink to fully bond before washing. Avoid bleeding and fading.
Gentle Hand Wash Cold
For maximal print longevity, hand wash gently in cold water with a mild detergent. Let nylon air dry instead of machine drying.
What About Sublimating Different Types of Nylon?
Not all nylon is created equal! Here’s how I tweak my process for different nylon fabrics:
The most common type used in apparel. Dyes well but is prone to shrinkage. Press at 350-375°F max.
Very strong and smooth fibers. Excellent shape retention. Can handle up to 450°F.
Improved dye absorption over Nylon 6. Crazy stretchy. Press from 390-415°F.
Ultra stretchy and heat sensitive. Start at just 305°F and slowly increase the temperature as needed.
Each type of nylon has unique properties you need to account for. But with some testing, they can all turn out awesome sublimated gear!
Frequently Asked Questions About Sublimation on Nylon
Let’s wrap up with answers to some common nylon sublimation questions:
Can You Sublimate On 100% Nylon Fabric?
Yes, 100% nylon can be sublimated but may require lower temps and less time to avoid melting. Always test!
Does Sublimation Work On Nylon Clothing?
It sure does! From t-shirts to hats to athletic jerseys, nylon gear can be sublimated with excellent results.
Can I Sublimate A Nylon Jacket?
You can successfully sublimate many nylon jackets and outerwear pieces. Bomber jackets are a popular choice.
Is Nylon Better Than Polyester For Sublimation?
There are pros and cons to each. Nylon has better stretch while polyester offers more color vibrancy. Test both!
Can I Sublimate Over Water-Resistant Nylon?
Yes, wipe the print area with rubbing alcohol first. Then add a nylon catalyst to the ink for optimal heat transfer.
Ready to Dye Sublimate Nylon?
Hopefully, you now have all the tips and tricks for successful sublimation projects using nylon fabric!
With the right preparation and technique, nylon can produce wash-fast prints that stretch and flex for the life of the garment. Perfect for athletic apparel and activewear.
For more sublimation guidance as you experiment with nylon and other fabrics, if you have any questions, comment down below, i am always happy to help!