Sublimation Vs. Heat Transfer Vinyl: Which Is Better In 2022

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Sublimation vs. Heat transfer vinyl(HTV), which one is best? It might be the most asked question of 2022. Sublimation and HTV are the two best methods to create personalized products.

But which one is durable, which one is cheap, and which one is bright? These methods differ widely and choosing one might be difficult. But don’t worry!

In this article, I am comparing sublimation and HTV in detail so you can see the differences between them.

Just read the article till the end, and I am pretty sure that after reading this article, you’ll make your decision on which method is best for you—all set. Let’s get started!

Difference Between Sublimation And HTV

Before moving further, let’s discuss the basics of sublimation and HTV. If you don’t want to read the basics, click here and directly jump to the comparison.

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Sublimation Printing

Sublimation printing is a process in which HEAT is used to transfer the image to the blank. Sublimation printing is a well-liked printing method. Its results are bright, vibrant, and durable.

How Sublimation Printing Works

The overall process of sublimation printing is very straightforward. First, the image is printed with sublimation inks on sublimation paper.

Then transferred to the blank using a Heat press, Cricut press, Tumbler press, etc. However, some steps of the process are different for different blanks, like sublimation on glass differs from sublimation on hoodies.

Heat Transfer Vinyl

Heat transfer vinyl, commonly known as HTV, is a printing method in which the image is transferred on the blank using heat.

It’s pretty much the same as sublimation, but the main difference is that it includes a vinyl sheet. Like sublimation, it doesn’t absorb into the fabric; instead, it makes another layer on the fabric.

How Heat Transfer Vinyl Works

Firstly, the image is printed on a vinyl sheet, then cut by a die-cutting machine (Cricut), and then transferred to the blank using a heat press.

And after pressing, the vinyl is removed, and the printed parts stick to the fabric. With HTV, you can probably sublimate on all kinds of fabric.

Unlike sublimation printing which can only print on light-color garments (mainly polyester). However, if you want to do sublimation on dark fabric, check out how to sublimate on dark cotton shirts.

Sublimation Vs. Heat Transfer Vinyl – Detail Comparison

Sublimation and HTV are the top choices for personalizing your clothes and accessories. But what’s the difference between sublimation and heat transfer vinyl?

Here’s a summary to help you choose between the two methods.

1- Which is More Cost-Effective

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One of the main factors people consider when choosing between sublimation and HTV is the cost. Both sublimation and heat transfer vinyl need different equipment to work.

To make the decision easier, let’s break down the cost of each piece of equipment required.

Equipment Required For Sublimation

  • Sublimation Printer (filled with sublimation inks)
  • Sublimation Paper
  • Heat Source (Heat Press/Cricut Press/Easy Press)

A sublimation printer costs more to buy outright than an inkjet printer. But, you can convert the inkjet printer into a sublimation printer.

However, these sublimation printers are best if you buy a new one.

The sublimation ink costs more than regular printer ink. However, you don’t need as much because a set of ink can last for years.

The cost of sublimation paper is pretty much similar to regular paper.

A heat press is a pretty expensive item. However, you can buy Cricut easy press as it’s cheaper than the heat press.

Equipment Required For HTV

  • Inkjet Printer (filled with regular or pigment inks)
  • Vinyl Printable Paper
  • Die Cutting Machine (Cricut)
  • Heat Source (Heat Press/Cricut Press/Easy Press) 

The cost of Inkjet printers and inks is relatively lower than sublimation printers and inks.

Printable vinyl paper is also cheap.

Die-cutting machine and heat press is pretty expensive.

Who Is The Winner

Well, you can say it’s a TIE. If you already have an inkjet printer, heat transfer vinyl will be less expensive. Sublimation will be more cost-effective if you don’t have any of the above items.

In my opinion, sublimation is the winner. What do you think? Answer in the comments below.

2- Which Is More Durable

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Let’s discuss which one is more durable.

In sublimation, the ink is fused into the fabric. This means it becomes a part of the fabric. You won’t feel any extra layer when you touch it.

On the other hand, HTV makes an extra layer on the fabric; if you touch it, you will feel an extra layer. You may sometimes experience cracking and peeling.

Who Is The Winner

Sublimation vs. HTV, who wins the durability test, sublimation printing is the winner. However, sublimation printing has some limitations over HTV, but it overtakes HTV in the durability test.

3- Types Of Blanks You Can Print

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There are a lot of different blanks available that you can customize. Let’s discuss who can print most of the blanks.

Sublimation Printing

Sublimation can only print on polyester blanks. Yes, only polyester. You can print on polyester fabric, polyester-coated mugs, or any other polyester-coated blank.

The higher the polyester in the blanks, the more vibrant outcome you will get. However, you can apply some unique treatments to sublimate other blanks. Like, you can sublimate on cotton, sublimate on nylon, etc.

The one drawback of sublimation printing is that you can’t print white color. The white color remains transparent after sublimation.

Heat Transfer Vinyl

With heat transfer vinyl, you can sublimate on almost all types of clothes, including cotton. Moreover, you can print any color, including white.

The reason that HTV can print on nearly all fabrics is that it creates a separate layer over the blank.

Who Is The Winner

Heat Transfer Vinyl is the clear winner in this case. Sublimation printing works best on polyester blanks but fails to print on other blanks.

But HTV can print on almost all the blanks with incredible vibrancy.

4- Which Is Easier To Use

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Sublimation vs. heat transfer vinyl, which one is easier to use? Let’s find out!

Sublimation Printing

The process of sublimation printing is very straightforward. First, the sublimation printer prints the image on sublimation paper, and the image is transferred to the blank using a heat source.

Some steps are different for different blanks, but mainly this is the overall procedure. It’s a very easy process and doesn’t require any rocket science.

Heat Transfer Vinyl

The process of heat transfer vinyl is also straightforward. Firstly the image is printed on the vinyl sheet, then cut by a Cricut, and then transferred onto the blank.

One extra step in HTV is cutting the vinyl, but that doesn’t matter. It’s still very easy to do.

Who Is The Winner

So who is the winner? I think sublimation is the winner. However, it’s a personal choice. I personally like sublimation.

Both methods are very easy to do and give bright and vibrant results. Follow these tips to make sublimation brighter than before.

5- Pros And Cons Of Sublimation And HTV

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Both sublimation and heat transfer vinyl is used to create custom products, and both have many advantages. Other than that, they have some cons as well.

Let’s discuss them!

Pros And Cons Of Sublimation


  •  The sublimation ink is fused into the fabric and does not fade or wrinkle over time. Additionally, it doesn’t make an extra layer over the fabric.
  • It’s a very straightforward method. Even a beginner can do it easily.
  • Produces very bright, vibrant, and eye-catching results.
  • If you have the equipment, the cost-per-product isn’t too much.


  • Sublimation cannot print white colors.
  • Pretty high-cost initial setup.
  • It only works on polyester fabrics and polyester-coated blanks.

Pros And Cons Of Heat Transfer Vinyl


  • Can print on all types of fabrics.
  • Can print all colors, including white.
  • Requires high heat but very little time while pressing.
  • Very cost-effective if you have an inkjet printer.


  • Crack and peel over time if you use low-quality vinyl.
  • Creates an extra layer over the fabric.

Which Is Better For You: Sublimation Or Heat Transfer Vinyl?

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After discussing all the main aspects, let’s discuss which one is best for your next project.

Sublimation is easy to operate and churns out bright and vibrant results. But it can’t print white and only works on polyester blanks.

On the other side, HTV is also very easy to do and churns vibrant results, but it creates an extra layer over the fabric and peels over time.

So which one is best? Well, it depends on the budget and the type of blank you want to print. Sublimation will be very best if you want to sublimate on polyester blanks.

However, if you wish to do sublimation on multiple types of blank, then HTV would be ideal. So it depends on your requirements.

Overview of the comparison table below to make things more clear.










Blanks You Can Print



Easy to Use



Final Points



Frequently Asked Questions

Why does sublimation printing can’t print white?

Sublimation printing can print white because sublimation inks can’t print white color. It leaves the white potion transparent. When you heat it, the color of the blank will show instead of white.

Is HTV more expensive than sublimation printing?

HTV can be more expensive than sublimation if you don’t have an inkjet printer. Sublimation will cost less if you don’t have an inkjet printer. But if you have an inkjet printer, HTV will be more cost-effective.

Can you use an inkjet printer for sublimation?

No, you can’t use an inkjet printer for sublimation. Inkjet printers are incompatible for sublimation purposes. However, you can convert your inkjet printer into sublimation.

Can you use a sublimation print more than once?

No, you can’t use a sublimation print more than once. Sublimation is a process in which ink fuse in the fabric; therefore, it can’t be removed and reused.

Conclusion: Sublimation Vs. Heat Transfer Vinyl

There you go! Now I am pretty sure that you can decide which one is the best between these two. Sublimation and HTV are the best choices when it comes to creating custom products.

Both have their advantages. I personally like sublimation printing. There is no definite reason, but I like it. Make sure to check all aspects before making any decision.

One factor I recommend checking twice is the cost of the two methods because this matters a lot. 

Sublimation vs. heat transfer vinyl, which one is best according to you? Let me know in the comments. Or, If you have any questions, ask in the comments or Tweet @printertip.

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How To Sublimate On Bluetooth Tumblers.

How To Sublimate On Aluminum.

How To Print On Plastic.

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About Shoaib Saqib

Hello there! It's Shoaib, the creator of PrinterTip. I am a printing expert and have worked in the printing business for more than five years. I have completed tens of thousands of printing tasks and have an extensive understanding of secrets. And I love writing about printing, mostly Sublimation Printing.

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