Dye-sublimation printers allow you
to print photo-lab-quality pictures at home. As the price
of these printers go down, more and more digital-camera
owners are choosing to take advantage of this technology.
In dye-sublimation printing, colors
are not laid down as individual dots, as is done in inkjet
printers. Individual dots can be distinguished at a relatively
close distance, making digital pictures look less realistic.
If you looked inside a dye-sublimation printer, you would
see a long roll of transparent film that resembles sheets
of red, blue, yellow, and gray colored cellophane stuck
together end to end. Embedded in this film are solid dyes
corresponding to the four basic colors used in printing:
cyan, magenta, yellow and black. The print head heats up
as it passes over the film, causing the dyes to vaporize
and permeate the glossy surface of the paper before they
return to solid form.
So the main difference between this
and other types of printing has to do with heat. The vaporized
colors permeate the surface of the paper, creating a gentle
gradation at the edges of each pixel, instead of the conspicuous
border between dye and paper produced by inkjets. And because
the color infuses the paper, it is also less vulnerable
to fading and distortion over time.