Sublimation involves the transfer of images or graphics onto specific substrates, such as coffee mugs. Images and graphics are transferred via heat and pressure.
Once a transfer paper is placed into a heat press with the substrate (coffee mug), it will be exposed to excessively high temperatures. High temperature allows the ink and transfer paper to convert into a gas state and then bond with the polymers of the mug.
When you remove the mug from the heat press, it will cool down. The sublimated mug will look more vibrant than before. Moreover, sublimated image or graphic will not come off or peel off after multiple washings because it is permanently embedded into the mug. Dye sublimation is faster and more affordable than other printing methods, especially when it comes to mass production.
Factors to consider for successful sublimation
To start with the sublimation process, you need to take care of the following details:
- Gather everything you need: In order to create a customized coffee mug, you need an inkjet printer, sublimation inks installed in the printer, sublimation paper, heat press, and graphic art software like Adobe Illustrator.
- Choose a high resolution image: Using the right software will allow you to produce great sublimated results. A color correction software can improve the quality of the image you want to use. Remember, a low resolution image will not stand out after it is sublimated into the mug.
- Set the heat press setting: Next step,make sure you properly adjust the pressure setting on the heat press. Too much heat can burn the image. That being said, most substrates require high pressure and heat settings. For sublimating a coffee mug, stick to 400F / 204C settings.
- Use the right mug: Successful transfer depends on the mug you use. Make sure it has a polyester coating. Polyester can withstand the heat during the sublimation process. In addition, a white mug will make the image and print color pop. Also, use a hard coated mug because it will not fade after washing. A glossy finish usually means that a mug has thin coating.