A printer that produces continuous-tone images with excellent quality. Also called a "thermal dye printer," the print cartridge contains a cellophane ribbon with panels of dye the same size as the page to be printed. There are four panels for each print: one each of cyan, magenta and yellow (CMY) and a final clear coat that allows the print to be handled immediately without smudging. Special dye-receptive paper is used.Because the same amount of ribbon is used no matter how much color is in the image, the cost of ribbon and paper is always the same per print. Consumables for dye sublimation printers generally cost more than for inkjet printers.Heat Releases the DyesThe paper and ribbon are passed together under the printhead for each color panel. The printhead contains thousands of heating elements that produce varying amounts of heat. The hotter the element, the more dye is released. By varying the temperature, shades of each color can be overlaid on top of each other. The dyes are transparent and blend into continuous-tone color.The "sublimation" means that the dye turns into a gas without first turning into a liquid. See thermal wax transfer printer and printer.