Most crafters ask the question, can you use an iron for sublimation? Because they doesn’t want to get a heat press but instead they wanted to use a household iron to get the sublimation transferred. Let me answer the question: Yes! You can do sublimation with iron because most irons can go up to 400 F temperature.
But my personal choice and suggestion are that you shouldn’t use iron for sublimation because it might create uneven results. Keep reading to know the in-depth knowledge of sublimation with iron, its disadvantages, and how can you achieve great results with iron.
Can You Use An Iron For Sublimation
Well, I’ve tried the sublimation with an iron. The results were pretty good and I even didn’t get the difference sometimes between a heat press sublimated image and an iron pressed. But I won’t suggest using iron for sublimation to beginners. You can use Cricut infusible ink sheets, markers, or sublimation paper printed via a sublimation printer.
Some Downsides To Keep In Mind
Before getting started with iron sublimation printing, some points are crucial to getting looked at.
1. Sublimation with iron won’t allow you to print curved or round substrates like mugs, tumblers, and ceramic plates. On the other hand, you can easily sublimate flat surfaced substrates like t-shirts, acrylic keychains, leather, or flat glass.
2. You cannot print larger prints on wide substrates like we sublimate using a dedicated heat press.
3. You cannot determine the pressure using iron as we determine it on a heat press using the PSI parameter or medium pressure. Another factor is the time which is completely essential as the pressure is. For time count, you need to use the timer.
4. Do not use the iron filled with water and the steam option turned on. Flush the water out of the iron and turn off the steam option.
In fact, I would love to use an iron that doesn’t have any option of steam because the holes beneath the bottom of the iron will affect the sublimation transfers thus the prints won’t be transferred properly.
I usually use a stainless steel iron which is a relatively cheaper option than a high-end iron. To be honest, nothing beats the quality of my heat press.
5. Do not apply the heat and pressure multiple times on each section because the colors will not be transferred precisely resulting in some spots darker and some light due to uneven pressure and time. Also, if you tend to sell those items online sublimated with iron then it is a big no to use iron.
We’ll apply a decent amount of pressure like we apply using a Cricut Easypress. If you’ve used the Cricut Easypress before then you can easily get a clue about applying the amount of pressure.
6. If you own a digital household iron then it will show the temperature in Fahrenheit or Celcius parameters. You should use 385 to 400 F which is the highest temperature we can get using an iron. For more detailed guide read: Can I use an iron instead of a heat press?
How To Use Sublimation Paper With Iron
I’ve sublimated the images using both methods including a heat press and the iron to highlight the difference in quality and perfection.
I’ve printed the designs using a sublimation printer although you can use Cricut infusible markers and sheets too.
My substrate is a polyester bag that I’ll be using to transfer both test designs. I pressed the sublimation paper using my heat press for 52 seconds at 365 F.
For substrate preparation, I taped down the sublimation paper facing the printed side to the surface of the fabric and covered it with a Teflon sheet or butcher paper. And here is the final result of using a heat press.
Using An Iron
Now, I’ll sublimate the same image using an iron. I’ve used a timer to count down the seconds as iron won’t let us count down the time. And I’ve prepared the sublimation paper the same as I did in the heat press method.
I applied the firm pressure and tuned on the full heat of the iron as possible for about 50 seconds. Do not move the iron when applying the heat because it will result in the ghosting of the image. Also, use the heat press mat beneath the substrate.
Now you can clearly see the difference between a heat press result and an iron sublimating result. The colors are faded with iron pressing compared to the heat press colors. That is why I was suggesting you not use Iron for sublimation. However, it is your personal choice to use it or not.
These were the results of the small images. Although, I’ve sublimated a larger image to test the results. I need to apply the iron multiple times on the substrates because of the larger image.
However, the sublimation transfer with iron on the large polyester fabric also turned out fabulous but I got some white shadow lines on the image.
While I also tried more DIY fun with iron and sublimated phone cases. And the results I got were similar to my tests with the polyester bag above. One phone case substrate sublimated with iron was a bit faded with light colors and the second one pressed with a heat press turned out rich in colors.
Other than sublimation with iron, many crafters also use a convection oven to print mugs and tumblers using subli wrap. So there are hundreds of ways you can try it out but the most convenient method is using a heat press.
Can You Use An Iron Instead Of A Heat Press?
No, you should not use an iron instead of a heat press. Iron cannot do sublimation similar to the heat press as I’ve tried and shown you the results of a heat press and iron. You can use it for DIY but for business selling, using iron is not suitable to create personalized products for customers.
To conclude, you can try the sublimation transfers with iron but it cannot be guaranteed that iron will work flawlessly to transfer the images. Because iron doesn’t support pressing time, applied pressure, and the most crucial ideal temperature. Despite that, if you want to utilize household iron for sublimation then start messing up with small substrates and read the above-written precautions.