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What is a thermosublimation printing?

In this article, you will find answers to questions like - What is a thermosublimation printing, what thermosublimation printers are there and also how does the thermosublimation printing works. You are also going to find out about a colour fidelity and a long-term image stability of thermosublimation photography.
And finally, we can tell you when and why to buy the thermosublimation printer.

Introducing thermosublimation printing 

In the picture you can see a schematically depicted process of the photography production by the thermosublimation printer. This is the thermal diffusion of dye from the carrier (foil - ribbon) into the substrate (paper) including the application of the safety layer. Because the density of the diffunding dye changes continuously with the temperature, we can talk about continuous-tone printers.

Image 1

From the colour foil on which the dye is  in the solid state,  the dye is released after it had been heated by the stable heating head and in the gaseous state passes in the surface layer of the paper where it agin changes the state to solid one. The printed temperature profile dynamically changes about every hundreth of second.

Paper structure 

Image 2

Paper for thermosublimation printer is a special sandwich that is able to open, with the heat, the colour on the front side, and after cooling down close the pores to protect the dye against surrounding environment. The paper is firm and resistant, so the thermosublimation printers are suitable for so called event printing.

Ribbon structure 

Image 3

The ribbon is a thin polyester foil, the dye carrier ready to diffuse into the paper in a quantity that corresponds to the temperature of the printing head (higher temperature = more dye diffuses into the paper). Except for the colour fields, it also has a clear section which is the source of the protective layer. You can imagine the application of this section as a use of an ultra-thin lamination foil. There is another function of the protective layer: according to the algorithm of its application, we get glossy, semi-matte or matte photography. Without the change of consumables, we can change the surface of the photography. That is another benefit of thermosublimation technology which underlines its convenience.

Purchasing supplies for thermosublimation printers is truly easy: every time its just a purchase of paper and ribbon together, in one box you will find a paper and ribbon roll for the production of photography.

Stability and colour gamut

Now we can compare colour gamuts (the volume of implemented colours) of current photographic reproduction techniques. There are shown real measurements (results of calibration), so they are not just illustration charts. 


  • the inkjet technology is a colour gamut implemented by the pigment photo printer and RC paper - peal type (red) 
  • the gamut of thermosublimation technology belongs to the DNP photo printer (white)
  • for comparison - there is also depicted a gamut of digital "wet" photo lab (orange)

Image 4

The measurements of the studied techniques in shadows, midtones and brightness, display are a projection of gamuts into a plane of CIE-Lab ab colorimetric space. 

For beginners:

The thermosublimation and the inkjet gamut is larger than the gamut of "wet" RA-4 photolab. The larger gamut means a bigger represantation of colours. It always depends not only on a printer, but also on the paper, which you are using, and on the printer settings.

For advanced users:

As you can see from the image above, the ink and the sublimation process overcome the photo lab in terms of volume of realizable colours (the capacity of the shown area), and also in terms of linearity and thus the repeatability of the results (smoothness of the border lines). It is important to know, that the colour gamut cannot be ascribed only to the printer, but also to the whole system, in which is the reproduction device deployed. It depends on: dye, media, print mode including resolution. Another advantage of the thermosublimation printer is, that is does not not increase the density of paper after the production of photography. The RA-4 technology naturally "suffers" from this phenomenon.

For whom are thermosublimation printers?

They are a good choice for:

  • those, who want fast, convenient and quality printing of photographies from 9x13 up to A4 + panorama  
  • those, who want to have photo corner
  • event photographers
  • those, who are planning on building a photo booth  

Thermosublimation printer

Code  Printer Photography size
EX21105 DNP DS820 up to 20x80 cm
EX21194 DNP DS620 up to 15x50 cm
EX21199 DNP DS-RX1 HS up to 15x20 cm
EX21189 DNP DS80DX reversible photo printer up to 20x30 cm



The price of the photography produced on a printer is not reliant on the amount of photographies made in one sequence or in one day.  Thi is due to the improved type of chemistry (ribbon) that is present in these printers. The production is also very flexibble. The DNP printers are from the off mode in the "ready" mode in matter of seconds.


The simplicity of operation and practical maintenance-free of DNP thermosublimation printers are deciding benefits to why thermosublimation printers are being used almost exclusively for so-called event printing. From the point of view of the software equipment are the DNP thermosublimation printers widely supported. In addition to the print driver (for Windows and MAC) is Hot Folder Print application available free of charge. This application will significantly help every starting photographers/event photographers. From paid professional apps we would like to mention DiLand, an amazing tool for photo kiosk, and DSLR Booth, widely used by photo booths. And last, but not least we cannot forget another helper of event photo printers - WPS PRO EU for wireless and photo printing.

Very faithful output 

Probably the most unusual thing for the new owners of a calibrated "dry labs" and calibrated monitors is the fact that they can rely on the colour fidelity, and that the draft on the monitor matches the print output. DNP photo printers are normally "sensitive" to the ICC's colour management system, so the print through generic or customer ICC profiles is a matter of course.

Related products
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DNP DS820 | professional photo printer

Professional, production photoprinter DNP DS820 for production of photography format from 10x20 cm up to 20x80 cm.

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