sublimation for beginners

Getting Started with Sublimation for Beginners

Originally posted on September 3, 2023 @ 4:20 am

The method of sublimation printing has experienced a significant rise in popularity. It is now widely used for creating personalized items and customized clothing.

This innovative printing method allows for high-quality, vibrant, and long-lasting sublimation prints on a variety of materials, such as polyester fabrics, ceramic mugs, phone cases, and more. One of the key advantages of the sublimation printing process is its ability to produce full-color, photo-quality prints that do not fade or crack over time.

In this guide, we talk about sublimation for beginners and how to go about it.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

What is Sublimation? 

Sublimation is a digital printing process that uses heat to transfer dye onto various materials. It involves transitioning from a solid to a gaseous state, bypassing the liquid stage. 

When heat is applied, the sublimation dye turns into a gas that permeates the substrate, creating a vibrant, durable print. This technique is commonly used for personalized products and custom apparel.

How Does Sublimation Work Step by Step?

Create your design

You can create your design in a graphics software program, such as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. Or, you can purchase a transfer paper that has a pre-printed design.

 When printing your design, use the correct settings for your printer and the type of paper you are using. The printer settings will vary depending on the type of printer you have. The paper settings will vary depending on the brand of paper you are using.

Select the proper settings for your heat press

 The temperature and time will vary depending on the type of material you are sublimating. For example, the temperature for sublimating onto a t-shirt is typically around 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and the time is typically around 30 seconds.

Place your substrate and transfer paper into the heat press

Make sure that the transfer paper is in direct contact with the substrate. The substrate is the material that you are sublimating the design onto, such as a t-shirt, mug, or coaster.

Apply heat and pressure for the specified amount of time

 Once the transfer paper is in place, close the heat press and apply heat and pressure for the specified amount of time. The heat and pressure will cause the sublimation ink to transfer from the transfer paper to the substrate.

Remove the transfer paper and allow the sublimated image to cool

Once the specified amount of time has passed, open the heat press and carefully remove the heat transfer vinyl and paper. Allow the sublimated image to cool before handling it.

What Are Some Common Applications of Sublimation Printing?

Sublimation printing is widely used in the production of custom apparel such as sportswear, t-shirts, and hoodies due to its ability to create vibrant, durable designs. It’s also commonly used in the creation of promotional products like mugs, phone cases, mouse pads, keychains, coasters, and puzzles. 

Additionally, sublimation printing is popular in the production of home decor items, like wall art, cushions, blankets, and more. In exterior decor, the sublimation print is used to create flags and banners due to its resistance to outdoor elements. Overall, its versatility makes it suitable for a broad range of personal and commercial applications.

A wide variety of products can be sublimated, adding to the popularity of this printing technique. Some popular items include:

  • Clothing– T-shirts, hoodies, socks, leggings, and sportswear are all commonly sublimated for vibrant, durable prints. 
  • Personal Accessories-phone cases, backpacks, tote bags, and keychains can be customized using sublimation printing. 
  • Homeware-Mugs, plates, coasters, mouse pads, and cutting boards are typical products for sublimation. 
  • Art and Decor: Canvas prints, metal prints, photo panels, and photo tiles are popular choices. 
  • Fabric Banners and Flags: Sublimation ensures vibrant colors that withstand outdoor elements.
  •  Puzzles: Sublimated puzzles are a fun custom product. Remember, the item must be polyester or polyester-coated for successful sublimation.

What Are The Benefits of Sublimation Printing?

Sublimation printing offers several notable benefits: 

  • High-Quality Images: Sublimation offers high-definition, vibrant prints that won’t fade, peel, or crack, even with extensive use or multiple washes. 
  • Versatility: It works on a variety of materials like polyester fabrics, ceramic mugs, metal plates, and more, provided they are coated with polyester or a polymer.
  • Durability: Unlike other print methods, the ink from sublimation becomes part of the fabric itself. Hence, the design lasts as long as the material it’s printed on.
  • No Quantity Restriction: It is cost-effective for both small and large print runs. 
  • Easy Customization: Sublimation allows for easy customization, making it ideal for personalized products. 
  • Wide Range of Color: It offers a broader color spectrum than traditional printing methods, ensuring bright, eye-catching results. Each of these benefits makes sublimation an appealing option for creating custom-printed products.

What Do You Need to Get Started With Sublimation?

You will need a few key items to get started with sublimation.

Sublimation Ink, Sublimation Paper and Sublimation Blanks

First, a sublimation printer with special sublimation ink turns are necessary. You cannot use regular inkjet ink printer. Choose good sublimation inks always. You’ll also need sublimation paper or butcher paper to print your designs. You also need sublimation crafting parchment paper blanks , sublimation heat presses coated with special materials to aid the transfer of sawgrass sublimation ink onto the paper.

Other important items include a heat press, which transfers the design onto your chosen medium, and polyester-based materials or specially-coated items for printing. Getting familiar with graphic design software, infusible ink like hiipoo sublimation ink and heat presses can also aid in creating your designs.

What Is the Easiest Thing to Sublimate?

The easiest items in sublimation crafting to sublimate are typically flat and have a high polyester content. T-shirts made of polyester or polyester blend are quite popular due to their user-friendliness. White or light-colored shirts are particularly suitable because they effectively showcase the vibrant, detailed prints that the sublimation process produces. 

Other easy-to-sublimate items include mousepads, puzzles, and coasters. Materials like ceramic mugs or metal keychains can also be sublimated with ease, as long as they are coated with a special polymer sublimation coating and heat presses that allows the sublimation ink to adhere during the heat press process of sawgrass printer.

Also Read: Tips to Solve Common Sublimation Color Problems

What Sublimation Items Sell Best?

The best items for you to sell will depend on your target market and the products that are popular in your area.

  • Mugs: Customized mugs are always a popular choice, and they can be personalized with names, logos, or images.
  • T-shirts: T-shirts are another popular sublimation item, and they can be customized with a variety of designs, such as band logos, sports team logos, or funny sayings.
  • Hats: Hats are a great way to show off your personality, and they can be sublimated with a variety of designs, such as logos, patterns, or even photos.
  • Blankets: Sublimated blankets are a great way to add a touch of personalization to your home décor. They can be customized with names, photos, or even quotes.
  • Mousepads: Sublimated mousepads are a practical way to show off your personality. They can be customized with logos, designs, or even photos.
  • Water bottles: Sublimated water bottles are a great way to stay hydrated and show off your personality. They can be customized with logos, designs, or even photos.
  • Phone cases: Sublimated phone cases are a great way to protect your phone and show off your style. They can be customized with logos, designs, or even photos.
  • Tote bags: Sublimated tote bags are a great way to carry your belongings and show off your personality. They can be customized with logos, designs, or even photos.

What Type of Printer Do I Need for Sublimation?

For sublimation printing, you need a specific type of printer that’s capable of using sublimation ink. These are often inkjet printers from manufacturers like Epson or Sawgrass. Epson’s EcoTank series is popular for sublimation due to its refillable ink tanks. 

Sawgrass printers, on the other hand, are designed specifically for sublimation printing. They come pre-packaged with sublimation ink and software to help create designs. It’s important to note that once a printer is used for sublimation ink, it shouldn’t be used for regular printing due to the residual sublimation ink left, which could affect the print quality.

How Do I Get the Best Sublimation Results?

Achieving the best sublimation results is reliant on careful preparation, quality materials, and precise heat application. First, use a high-resolution image for your design to ensure detailed prints. You should also use high-quality sublimation ink and paper for high-quality transfers. Ensure your substrate contains enough high polyester count or has proper polyester coating for sublimation. 

Incorrect heat and pressure during the transfer process can result in poor-quality prints, so make sure you use the appropriate temperature, pressure, and time for each item. It’s also essential to let the printed item cool completely before handling it to avoid any smearing or distortion of the image.

How Do I Make Sublimation Designs More Vibrant?

Here are some top tips for vibrant sublimation designs:

  • Use high-quality sublimation ink. Cheap ink will not produce the same vibrant results as high-quality ink.
  • Use high-quality sublimation paper. The paper you use will affect the vibrancy of your designs, so make sure to use paper that is specifically designed for sublimation.
  • Set your printer settings correctly. The print settings you use will also affect the vibrancy of your cricut design space. Make sure to use the correct settings for your printer and the type of material like wax paper you are sublimating onto.
  • Use the correct heat press temperature and time. The heat press temperature and time will also affect the vibrancy of your designs. Make sure to use the correct settings for the type of material you are sublimating onto.
  • Experiment with different settings. The best way to find the settings that work best for you is to experiment. Try different combinations of ink, paper, printer settings, cricut design space, and heat press settings until you find the results you are looking for.

Can You Print a Sublimation Image on a Regular Printer?

No, you cannot print a sublimation image on a regular printer. Sublimation printers use a special type of ink that is heat-activated. This ink sublimates, or turns into a gas, when it is heated. When the gas comes into contact with a substrate, such as a t-shirt or mug, it bonds to the material and creates a permanent image.

Regular printers use a different type of ink that is not heat-activated. This ink will not sublimate and will not create a permanent image on a substrate.

If you want to print sublimation images, you will need to purchase a sublimation printer. There are many different sublimation printers available on the market, so you can choose one that fits your needs and budget.

How Do I Print My Own Sublimation Transfers?

To print your own sublimation transfers, you will need the following:

  • A sublimation printer
  • Sublimation ink
  • Sublimation papers
  • A heat press
  • A design software program (optional)

Here are the steps on how to print your own sublimation transfers:

  1. Create your design. You can create your own design in a graphics software program, such as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. Or, you can purchase a sublimation transfer paper that has a pre-printed design.
  2. Prepare your sublimation printer. Make sure that your sublimation printer is set up correctly and that you are using the correct settings for your printer and the type of paper you are using.
  3. Load your transfer paper into your printer. Make sure that the transfer paper is loaded correctly and that the printing side is facing down.
  4. Print your design. When printing your design, make sure to use the correct settings for your printer and the type of paper you are using.
  5. Heat press your transfer. Once your design is printed, you will need to heat press it onto your substrate over heat resistant tape. The temperature and time will vary depending on the type of material you are sublimating onto.
  6. Allow your transfer to cool. Once the heat press is finished, allow your transfer cosmos ink to cool before handling it.

Here are some additional tips for printing your own sublimation transfers:

  • Use high-quality sublimation cosmos ink and butcher paper. This will ensure that your transfers are vibrant and long-lasting.
  • Make sure that your printer is set up correctly. This will prevent your transfers from being blurry or distorted.
  • Use the correct settings for your printer and the type of butcher paper you are using. This will ensure that your transfers are printed correctly.
  • Apply heat and pressure evenly to your sublimation transfer. This will help to prevent the transfer from lifting or peeling from the butcher paper.
  • Allow your sublimation transfer to cool completely before handling it. This will prevent the ink from smearing.

What Do I Need to Know Before Buying a Sublimation Printer?

There are a few things you need to know before buying a sublimation printer:

The Type of Printer

There are two main types of such printers: sublimation dye-printers and direct-to-garment (DTG) printers. Dye-sublimation printing devices are the most common type of dye sublimation printing process device. They use heat to transfer dye sublimation printing ink to a substrate on sublimation blanks. DTG printers use heat to transfer ink directly to a garment.

The Size of the Printer

Sublimation printers come in a variety of sizes, from small desktop printers to large industrial printers. The size of the printer you need will depend on the size of the projects you plan to print. The resolution of a printer is the number of dots per inch (DPI) that it can print. The higher the resolution, the better the quality of the print.

Price and Warranty

Dye sublimation devices can range in price from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. The price of the dye sublimation device will depend on the features and capabilities of the printer.

Most sublimation printers come with a warranty. The warranty will cover the printer for a certain period of time against defects in materials and workmanship.

Steps for Buying a Sublimation Printer

Once you have considered these factors, you can start shopping for a sublimation Epson printer. There are many different brands and models of sublimation printers like Epson Ecotank available, so you should be able to find one that meets your needs and budget.

Here are some additional tips for buying a sublimation printer:

  • Read reviews of different dye sublimation devices like Epson Ecotank before you buy one. This will help you get an idea of the pros and cons of each printer.
  • Talk to other dye sublimation prints users and sublimation projects expert. They can give you advice on which new sublimation printer like Epson Ecotank is best for you.
  • Buy from a reputable dealer. This will help you ensure that you get a quality Epson printer that is backed by a good warranty.

Can You Make Sublimation With a Cricut Machine?

While a Cricut machine cannot directly execute dye sublimation work, it can play a supportive role in your sublimation projects. A Cricut machine excels at the precise cutting of designs, uses cricut infusible ink, and can be used to cut out printed sublimation transfers before pressing them onto your material. 

However, for the sublimation process itself, you’ll need a printer capable of using sublimation ink to print designs on sublimation paper. Then, a heat source press is required to transfer the design from the paper to the desired material with special sublimation coating. The Cricut infusible ink can ease the process, but it isn’t a replacement for a sublimation inkjet printer and epson sublimation ink, or a heat source press and infusible ink markers.

 Is Starting a Sublimation Business Worth It?

Starting a sublimation business can be a profitable venture, but it is important to do your research and set yourself up for success. Here are some tips for making your sublimation business successful:

  • Choose a niche. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Instead, focus on a specific niche, such as custom t-shirts, mugs, or home decor.
  • Offer high-quality products. Use high-quality sublimation materials and take the time to create high-quality sublimation prints.
  • Provide excellent customer service. Respond to customer inquiries promptly and go the extra mile to make sure they are happy with their purchase.
  • Stay up-to-date on the latest trends. The sublimation industry is constantly evolving, so it is important to stay up-to-date on the latest trends. This will help you create products that are in demand.

Earning Potential

Here are some estimates of how much money you can make from a sublimation business:

  • A beginner’s sublimation screen printing business can make around $1,000 per month.
  • A more experienced sublimation business can make around $5,000 per month.
  • A successful sublimation business can make around $10,000 per month or more.

The amount of money you make from your sublimation business will depend on a number of factors, including the size of your market, the quality of your products, and your marketing efforts. Ultimately, whether or not starting a sublimation business is worth it is up to you. If you are passionate about sublimation and willing to put in the work, then it can be a great way to make money and express your creativity.

How to Start a Sublimation Business?

Here are the steps on how to start a sublimation business:

Do your Research

 Learn about the sublimation process and the different types of sublimation printers like epson ecotank printers, inks, and papers available. Research your target market and what kind of products they would be interested in.

Set up your Workspace. 

You will need a dedicated space for your sublimation business, even if it is just a small corner of your home. Make sure the space is well-ventilated and has a flat work surface.

Purchase the Necessary Sublimation Tools

 This includes a sublimation printer like Epson workforce printer, sublimation ink, sublimation paper, sublimation blank, a heat press, and sublimation blanks. There are many tutorials available online and in books for learning to use the equipment. Take some time to practice using the equipment – especially Epson printers before you start selling your products.

Design your Products

 You can create your own sublimation design or find designs that you can purchase. You can also offer custom design services to your customers.

Market your Business

There are many ways to market your sublimation business. You can create a website, sell on online marketplaces, or promote your business on social media.

How Much Does It Cost to Start a Sublimation Business?

The cost of starting a sublimation business can vary depending on the size and scope of your business. However, you can expect to spend anywhere from $500 to $5,000 to get started. Here are some of the expenses you will need to factor in:

Starting Costs

  •  A sublimation printer such as the Epson Ecotank printer is the most essential piece of equipment you will need. You can purchase a basic sublimation printer for around $500.
  •  Sublimation ink is a special type of ink that is heat-activated. You will need to purchase sublimation ink for your printer. Sublimation ink can cost around $20 per cartridge.
  • Sublimation heat transfer vinyl paper is a special type of paper that is designed to be used with sublimation printers. You will need to purchase transfer paper for your printer. The transfer paper can cost around $10 per roll.
  • Heat press: A heat press is used to transfer the sublimation image from the transfer paper to the substrate. You can purchase a basic heat press for around $200.
  • Substrates: Substrates are the materials that you will sublimate your designs onto. Common substrates include t-shirts, mugs, mousepads, and phone cases sublimation project. The cost of substrates will vary depending on the type of substrate you choose.

Design software

You can use a graphics printer software program on your sublimation journey to create your own designs for sublimation. There are many different graphics software programs available, such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. You can purchase a graphics software program for around $200.

Marketing Costs

You will need to create marketing materials to promote your sublimation business. This could include business cards, flyers, and social media posts. The cost of marketing materials will vary depending on the materials including parchment paper you choose.

You will also need to factor in the cost of shipping, packaging, and taxes. Don’t forget heat resistant gloves, convection oven, and ink cartridges costs. The total cost of starting a sublimation business will vary depending on your specific needs and requirements.


Can you print sublimation images from Cricut?

No, you cannot print sublimation images from a Cricut mug press. Cricut machines are not designed for sublimation printing. They are designed for cutting screen printing and weeding vinyl and other materials.

What software to use to print sublimation? What program is best for sublimation printing?

There are many software programs that you can use to print free sublimation designs. Some of the most popular ones include Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, GIMP, and CorelDRAW. These programs allow you to create and edit your designs, and they also have features that are specifically designed for sublimation printing.

Can you do sublimation with a regular inkjet printer?

No, you cannot use injket printer like Canon, HP, or Dell for sublimation projects. Instead, use printers like the Epson Ecotank printer with micro piezo print heads for your sublimation printing project.

Conclusion – Sublimation for Beginners?

Sublimation for beginners can be made easy with the right sublimation tutorials and sublimation beginners guides. Our website has many resources for helping sublimation for beginners get started on this creative sublimation startup journey. from using the right sublimation paper to ink, and learning all about the steps can help you get started and excel at this task. Check out our website for details.

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