You wanted to have a sip of coffee in your own personalized mug or you want to start a lucrative business of customized mugs to generate part-time income. But before getting started with sublimation, you must know all the possible and flawless methods of sublimating a mug that will save time and bucks too. So let’s start the guide on how to sublimate a mug.
How To Sublimate A Mug
There are hundreds of other ways to sublimate a mug but we have shared the best and easiest methods that we’re personally using and selling mugs to our customers. So first, we’ll start with the method using a sublimation printer.
What Supplies Do You Need?
A sublimation printer is the first piece of equipment that you’ll need. As we all know ceramic mugs come in small-sized substrates so choosing a dedicated mug sublimation printer that uses the extended paper size printing tray will help you to save your sublimation paper.
Prepare a design in the online software. The image size should be according to the substrate size and don’t forget to mirror it.
Sublimation on mugs requires a small size of sublimation paper according to the substrate. You can use the standard size of paper and later on, you can cut them accordingly, But, I suggest buying already small-sized sublimation papers. Here is the list of best sublimation papers for tumblers and mugs.
A quality sublimation ink will print bright and vibrant colors on the mugs. Usually, we get the best results with Hiipoo Sublimation ink that can be used with mug sublimation printers. Further, if you own a sawgrass sublimation printer then you already know about the Sawgrass Subli UHD ink cartridges. You can read more about how to make sublimation brighter on mugs.
4. Most important the sublimation mug blanks
Sublimation ink requires a poly-coated surface in order to bind with the substrate. There are already prepared sublimation mug blanks available with a poly-coated surface. Those mugs are been already prepared in the factories but there are also poly-coating sprays available. But we recommend buying prepared substrates that won’t create a mess.
Also, the substrate size is intended to buy according to the size of the mug press machine. Because the maximum size Cricut mug press machine can accommodate is 4.17 inches in height and the maximum diameter would be 3.4 inches which is enough for a 10 to the 16-oz mug. More information about the Cricut is here.
Other Supplies you’ll need:
- Cricut Mug Press or any mug press you’ve.
- Heat-resistant tape
- Heat-resistant gloves
- Lint roller
- Butcher paper
Step By Step Guide (How to sublimate a mug with Cricut Mug Press)
Prepare the printer, fill it with the sublimation ink, and load the sublimation paper facing upside in order to print on the coated side. Here I am using Epson ET 2760, A-Sub sublimation paper, and Hiipoo sublimation ink. Check the image below
Prepare the design of ½ inches small from the actual size of the substrate using online software like Adobe or if you’re using Sawgrass then Creative Studio will be beneficial as the software has also hundreds of templates too and the color management is also exceptional. Set the DPI resolution to at least 300 because it is an ideal size for small substrates. Also, check the mirror image box.
Print the design and cut the excess sides of the paper with the help of a scissor in order to wrap the printed paper on the mug properly.
Clean the mug with the lint roller in order to remove dust or other particles from the surface. Fix the sublimation paper as the printed side must be facing the sublimation mug.
Tightly fix the sublimation paper with the help of heat-resistant tape so it should not be flexible. Check the sublimation paper if it is firmly tightened or not. However, if the paper is flexible then it will transfer a ghosted image. Also, fix the butcher paper over the fixed sublimation paper.
Prepare your mug press at the temperature of 400F and set the time adjustment between 4 to 6 minutes. Additionally, the setting of pressure adjustment should be “medium-heavy” depending upon the type of sublimation mugs.
Pull the Cricut mug press liver up and place the mug inside the Cricut mug press and wait until the machine will give an indication. The time of pressing depends upon the type of mug so you don’t need to worry. It will take 6 minutes estimated.
Step 6: Remove the mug from the heat press carefully as the mug will be hot so I suggest using heat-resistant gloves. Let the mug cool down a bit.
Step 7: Remove the sublimation and butcher paper and here you go! Look at the image below.
How To Sublimate A Mug Without A Mug Press Using A Convection Oven
In this method, we’re gonna skip the usage of a sublimation printer, sublimation paper, and yeah Mug press too. Both methods utilize different pieces of equipment also both have pros and cons that we’ll discuss later.
Apparently, you might get attracted by the price and number of equipment. But this method applies a limitation that you cannot print your own customized images due to the limited number of pre-printed Cricut infusible ink sheets.
Supplies You Will Need
- Sublimation mug substrates
- Cricut infusible ink sheets
- Small Oven – not a toaster oven or microwave but the convection
- Butcher paper
- Lint roller
- Cricut grip mat
- Heat-resistant tape
- A Cricut cutter
How To Sublimate A Mug Using A Convection Oven
Step 1: Prepare a design in the Cricut design space software or you can use a third-party software too. Design the image ½ smaller than the mug size.
Step 2: Place the Cricut infusible ink sheet on the grip mat and load the mat into the Cricut cutter. After cutting, unload the mat and remove the prepared Cricut infusible ink sheet.
Step 3: Trim the excessive paper and then weed the design. Though you can cut the infusible ink sheet piece according to size before loading it onto the mat too.
Step 4: You can weed the design with a weeding tool or with your hand either. Later, clean the mug with a lint roller.
Step 5: Place the printed side of the paper over the surface of the mug. The Cricut infusible ink sheet is adhesive so you won’t need to place heat-resistant tape over it. Besides, you need to wrap the prepared mug with butcher paper and place the heat-resistant tape over it firmly.
Step 6: Preheat the convection oven to the temperature of 400F and set the time at 12 minutes.
Step 7: After that, remove the mug while wearing heat-resistant gloves and let the mug cool down for a couple of minutes.
Step 8: Remove the butcher paper and infusible ink sheet properly and here you go! Look at the image below:
Pros of using the sublimation printer method:
- Print versatile designs including images
- No limitation on colors
- Vivid colors
- Print-on-demand designs
Cons of using the sublimation printer method:
- It may be expensive for newbies
Pros of using the Cricut infusible ink sheet method:
- No need of buying a printer
- Eliminates the usage of ink and transfer too.
- Pre-printed designs
- Affordable method
Cons of using the Cricut infusible ink sheet method:
- A limited number of patterns
- Cannot be printed own designed images
How To Sublimate A Mug In An Air Fryer
The third method is almost the same as our first method using a sublimation printer and mug press. But here we’ll be using an air fryer instead of a mug press.
- Prepare the design and mug with printed sublimation paper.
- Preheat the air fryer to a temperature of 375F for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Place the prepared mug in the air fryer machine.
- If the mug is unable to fit in the tray then you will need to place it on one side.
- Heat each side for 3 minutes, each side must be flipped after 3 minutes.
- Let it cool down and remove the butcher paper and sublimation paper.
- Your mug will be ready!
Precautions to follow:
- Never use a convection oven or air fryer that you often use to cook food because the sublimation ink contains harmful chemicals that may disturb your health if you reuse the oven.
- Please read the heat instructions on the website of the company from where you buy an oven or air fryer to know the time and all details.
How To Sublimate A Mug With A Heat Press
For sublimating mugs, you just need to use a mug heat press. You cannot sublimate mugs on the t-shirt heat press. Therefore, it is essential to buy a separate mug heat press for sublimating tumblers, mugs, and drinkware.
How Long To Sublimate A Mug (Sublimation Temperature And Time)
The temperature and time depend upon the type of mug you’re using. For a ceramic mug, the ideal temperature is between 350 to 400F for 2.5 to 3.5 minutes.
How much does it cost to sublimate a mug?
The cost depends upon the size of the substrate you’re gonna sublimate. Generally, an 11oz mug is being sold for $13 to $15 and a 15oz mug can be sold for $15 to $20. The cost per unit would be around 40% to 60%.
Can sublimation be done on any mug?
No! Sublimation can only be done on polymer-coated ceramic mugs. Polymer-coating enables sublimation ink to stay in the mug and the ink is not prone to fading or peeling off. The mug becomes washable in the dishwasher. If you sublimate a non-poly-coated mug then sublimation ink will be faded away after washing the mug. Further, you can read how to sublimate the bottom of a mug.
Do I need a sublimation printer for the Cricut mug press?
It isn’t always essential to use a sublimation printer for printing with a Cricut mug press. You can use Cricut infusible ink sheets for sublimation. But you cannot print desired images and designs with infusible ink. That is why my favorite method is using a sublimation printer. Also, check the compatible Sublimation printers with Cricut.
So we have shared the best possible methods of sublimating a mug. One of the ideal methods is using a mug press with a sublimation printer because the method is hassle-free and reliable. Though both including mug press and infusible ink sheets with convection oven methods are safe and washable. But both have their advantages and disadvantages so choose the process according to your needs.