How to Sublimate Mugs

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One of the things that got me interested in sublimation was the ability to make mugs that could be ran through the dishwasher. For someone who doesn't even drink coffee, making mugs is one of my favorite things.

In the beginning it was hit or miss to get consistent good quality. I messed up so many mugs before I got it down. I don't want you to waste the time and money that I did. So I am going to share with you how I make mugs.

First lets start with what you need.

If you missed the post Sublimation Necessities What You Really Need you will need a mug coated for sublimation. Sorry, Dollar Tree mugs will not work for sublimation. I have added a link to where I purchase my mugs below. You will also need a mug press or a convection oven and mug wraps. You can get the convection over at any large retail store. I got this one from Walmart.                                                            

You can find mug wraps where you find sublimation mugs. I use Coastal Business Supplies to order my mugs. They arrive within 3 days and shipping is reasonable. I don't use mug wraps I have this mug press. I bought it to test out and the plan was to upgrade but its been 3 years and its still going strong. 

Heat tape is your friend. I came from doing vinyl and I thought surely you don't need specific tape. trust me you need specific tape. This is what happened when I used non heat tape. 

The perfect image size is about 3X3 if your image is not a complete square just make the largest size 3 inches. Tape all around the image. At first I just taped the top and bottom enough to hold it in place. That was not a good idea. It allows for some shifting and doesn't give you a good clear image. 

If you're using a mug press, press at 400 degrees for 4 minutes. Immediately peel the image off. I then set the mug in front of a fan to help it cool down. Some people place it in water. I don't for 2 reasons. Water is messy and I don't want to have to dry the mug off before shipping it and it also causes micro cracks that weakens the mug so when your customer is using it, it could break completely. I don't want my customers to be covered in hot coffee, so a fan it is. The purpose of the  fan is to stop the sublimation process. As long as its still at 400ish degrees it is processing. This leaves a ghosting or shadow effect around the image. The fan cools its down faster and stops the effect. So you get a good clean sharp image.

If you are using a convection oven using a heat thermometer inside get the oven up to 400 degrees and place your mug with the image taped down and the wrap firmly placed around the mug. Bake it for 12-13 minutes. Then peel the wrap and image off and place in front of a fan. 

I am happy to answer any question you have about sublimation or take suggestions on future topics. You can leave them in the comments below.

Happy Crafting. 


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