Creating a mug with sublimation and a mug press is so much fun! Sublimation lends itself especially well to hard surfaced items. The colors are vibrant and the results are permanent. Mugs are one of my favorite things to make!
I started my mug sublimation journey with a silicone wrap and Cricut’s Infusible Ink. This was a great way to experiment with making mugs. It’s best if you have a dedicated craft convection oven. After months of waiting last spring, I got a Swing Design 4 in 1 Mug Press. This is a lot faster then the silicone wrap method and works great if you have plans to make several mugs. I like the versatility with the multiple attachments and having the latte mug attachments is great! The attachments give this style of mug press a leg up.
Supplies to Sublimate Mugs
- Sublimation Mug Blanks (I’m using 15 oz mugs)
- Mug Press
- Sublimation Printer
- Sublimation Transfer Paper
- Butcher Paper
- Rubbing Alcohol/Lint Free Cloth
- Heat Resistant Tape
- Heat Resistant Gloves
How to Sublimate on Mugs
Step 1: Prepare the Transfer
I used Silhouette Studio to print my design. The design you choose must be mirrored prior to printing or in the print settings. For 15 ounce mugs, I size the design to be about 3″ in width. The mug press doesn’t have enough pressure within about 3/4″ of the handle to do crisp designs.
I’m using an Epson WF 7720 with Cosmos Ink. If you are also printing from Silhouette Studio, check out this post about How to Print Sublimation Designs from Silhouette Studio. It has all of my color, paper type, and paper weight settings that I use.
Remember that your printed transfer will be dull. Keep the faith that your colors will pop post pressing!
Step 2: Prepare the Mug
Start preparing the mug blank by wiping it clean with rubbing alcohol and a lint free cloth. Next, line up the transfer and tape it to the mug using heat resistant tape. Lastly, tape a sheet of butcher paper over the transfer paper with the heat resistant tape. This will absorb any extra ink and protect the heat press.
Step 3: Prepare the Mug Press
With the 15 ounce mug attachment installed, adjust the pressure on the press until you have firm pressure on the mug. After setting the pressure, remove the mug. Preheat the mug press to 385F. The pressing settings may vary from press to press, but these settings for temp/time worked well for my Swing Design 4 in 1 Mug Press.
Step 4: Press the Mug
Put the mug into the mug press and close the press. Press for about 150 seconds. The temperature will fluctuate over the 150 seconds, but this is normal and factored into the timing. After pressing, remove from the press and allow to cool. You can remove the butcher and transfer papers but be very careful as the mug is very hot! I use a heat resistant glove to remove the mugs from the press. Some say to dunk the mug in cold water to stop the ink from continuing to sublimate, but this can cause microfractures. With a quality blank, there should be no issues with allowing to cool at room temperature.
Voila! Your new mug! Wasn’t that fun? Sublimation with a mug press has become one of my favorite things to craft!
Here are a few of my favorites, below. The colors really pop and I wanted to show that because my tutorial mug is only using black ink.
Sublimated Mug Care
For best long term results, hand wash your sublimated mugs. That said, I put mine in the dishwasher (top rack) and have had zero issues with the ink bleeding or ghosting. The dishwasher would need to be very hot to make the ink bleed. Some are, so be cautious.
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