As soon as you’ve figured that sublimating is the best approach to personalizing or beautifying a shirt or mug, the next challenge becomes the how. How to Sublimate on Tee Shirts and Mugs. If this is something you’re interested in figuring out, you’re on the right page.
“Sub-li-ma-tion”; if you’re wondering if this is the translation of substances directly from a solid-state to gas, we will give you a star for actually paying attention in chemistry. And yes, sublimating on surfaces uses the same concept at its core. The distinctive characteristic, in this case, will be that when you sublimate, to print something onto a surface.
What is Sublimation?
Sublimation also called dye sublimation is a process of printing that transfers a design onto material like a mug or fabric using heat and ink. It indeed is a game-changer. Thanks to sublimation, we can print our favorite pictures, words, etc. on virtually any surface that can withstand the heat.
Special printers, inks, and papers are used to create the design that will, later on, be put on a variety of blank products. By applying heat, or with a heat press, the design and ink are transferred onto the specially coated surface.
The Sublimation Printing Process
The process of sublimation is effective because sublimation ink can go from solid to a gas form without ever becoming liquid. A cool example will be dry ice.
Heat is used to bond the ink on the surface, which in this case is a Mug or a Tee shirt. First, the design is printed onto a special paper so when heat is introduced; the ink turns into a gas and combines with the sublimation blank. This method of printing is preferred because its effects are permanent and it is less likely to fade as the ink gets embedded into the blank surface or substrate unlike other forms of printing where ink simply sticks on the surface.
Sublimation is like a tattoo. The ink is visible but not on the skin like a sticker but instead of the skin; it is for your preferred product. The heat applied helps open up microscopic pores of the fabric and mug, then with applied pressure the sublimating ink and design cool and takes a solid form.
What you get is a permanent colorful image, which won’t crack, peel or wash away when used. It is a simple process that is started by heat and controlled by pressure. Amazingly, this print method is growing in popularity not only because it is quick and effective but also because it can handle very complicated designs that require close attention to details.
Another name for sublimation printing is ‘all over printing’ because this method of printing allows you to choose any design, including those which go from seam to seam.
Our recently published Guide: Screen Printing vs. Digital Printing vs. Heat Press
- Sublimation printer and ink
- Sublimation shirt. It’s always best that you use shirts or sublimation blanks that are lighter in color since it helps your ink appear clearer.
- Sublimation paper
- A heat press
Steps To Take When Sublimating Into Apparel
- Step 1: Create a design using any photo editor software of your choice
- Step 2: Mirror the design and print it on a sublimation printer
- Step 3: Line up your design preferably with a Tee Square or whatever you feel comfortable using
- Step 4: Press your design onto your Apparel using a heat press. The transfer paper you use should have recommended pressing times and temperatures. Ensure you know that to ensure maximum result.
- Step 5: Remove the transfer paper
What you should see at this point will put a smile on your face.
- Sublimation ink and printer
- A transfer paper
- Heat resistant tape
- Blank sublimation mugs
- Mug wraps or a Mug heat press (there are two methods of sublimating on mugs)
Sublimating onto a Mug with a Mug Press
- Step 1: Create a design and print using any photo editor software of your choice
- Step 2: Mirror the design and print on your sublimation printer
- Step 3: Line your design and use your heat resistant tape to keep it in place
- Step 4: Set up your mug press machine and insert the mug. There are different ways to mug press so refer to your manual to learn how to operate your mug press.
- Step 5: Press the mug with pressure according to the sublimating paper and mug recommendations. One way to know if there is too much pressure is to check if the handle of your mug is touching metal. If it touches, there too much pressure.
- Step 6: Remove the mug using gloves or potholders and transfer the paper immediately.
- Step 7: Let the mug rest in warm water or place it in front of a fan to cool off and prevent bleeding.
Sublimating onto a Mug with a Mug Wraps
- Step 1: Create a design and transfer it to your sublimating printer
- Step 2: Line your design using heat-resistant tape to keep it in place.
- Step 3: Dampen the transfer paper a bit; using a damp towel is recommended.
- Step 4: Place the mug wrap carefully around the mug. It is important that you do not clamp it closed or wrinkle the transfer paper while wrapping the mug.
- Step 5: Bake in an oven (not a microwave or a toaster oven). Use the information that comes with your transfer paper to set the temperature and time.
Both methods work efficiently, and if done right, your mug should be perfect. Both mugs can be washed and they will withstand scrubbing, dishwasher, and are microwave safe.
If you plan on selling customized mugs or T-shirts, sublimating is no doubt the best printing technique to use. With sublimating, your designs are completely free. This is a luxury you may not enjoy with other printing techniques.
The longevity of the designs made with sublimation is a plus point. Your designs won’t crack, peel or fade. Even after going through the washing machine many times. Sublimating guarantees you quality.