The Art of Printing Sublimation on Wood! Making Masterpieces

The process of sublimation printing involves using a special ink, transfer paper, and a heat press to create designs on various substrates. Most often, fabric, such as t-shirts, blankets, or polyester, is used.

Nevertheless, with the advancement of technology and techniques, it has become possible to sublimate other materials. Considering this, you might wish to know whether wood can be sublimated.

There is no doubt that it is possible, however, there are a few tweaks to be made in the process. In addition to the most popular methods, I have included some other important details that a beginner should be aware of when sublimating on wood.

Supplies Needed for Sublimation on Wood

In order to begin the process of sublimation, let us provide you with a brief description of all the equipment and accessories that are required to complete the procedure. We cannot complete the project without all types of equipment.

  • Sublimation printer
  • Sublimation paper
  • Sublimation ink
  • Wood sublimation blanks
  • Thermal laminating pouches
  • Heat press machine
  • Heat resistant tape
  • The sandpaper
  • Heat resistant gloves

The following materials are required to complete this simple process. It is time to begin the process without wasting any time.

Sublimation on Wood Items

Step-by-Step Guide to Sublimation on Wood

Here is a simple and easy guide to sublimating wood. One thing you must have before beginning the sublimation process is a design for the sublimation process. With the help of the design software, it is easy to make the design. There are a variety of software programs available today with easy user interfaces, as well as different types and capabilities of designing. After realizing the type of design, the software can be easily recognized. We are now ready to begin the process.

Step 1 – Purchasing Wood Pieces and Thermal Laminating Sheet

As a first step, you will need to have the wood blanks pieces you wish to sublimate. It is also important that these pieces be cut correctly in order to fit into the heat press easily. You should also ensure that the design that you wish to transfer is of an appropriate size and appearance for the cut wood. As an additional recommendation, we will recommend the thermal laminating pouches be placed at the bottom of the heat press for this project.

In order to prevent the material or transferred design from being damaged over time, a thermal laminate pouch is used. In addition, the material will remain safe even after being touched by many hands or being exposed to water.

Step 2 – Cutting the Laminating Sheet According to the Wood’s Dimensions

It is necessary to cut the thermal laminating sheet into two pieces after purchasing it. Due to the fact that the sheet will be larger than the heat transfer machine, you will have to cut it into two pieces. When cutting, make sure the cut sheet exceeds the wooden pieces. Also, you may use the other cut laminated wood slices for a second project involving wooden pieces.

Step 3 – Setting Up the Heat Press

As part of this step, we will ask you to set both the temperature and the time of your heat press. So far, the best results have been obtained when the temperature and time are set at 385 F for approximately 60 seconds. Also, you may request information regarding the temperature and time instructions from the shop owner from whom you purchased the wooden pieces.

Step 4 – Inserting Wooden Pieces Into the Heat Press

In the next step, place the wooden pieces into the heat press and then place the parchment paper on the bottom of the press. Above the wooden pieces, you need to place a thermal laminating sheet that has been cut.

Step 5 – Applying Pressure to the Heat Press

The next step will be to place another parchment paper on top of the wooden slices, and they should be pressed for 60 seconds in order to adhere well to the laminating sheet. It will be evident that the laminating sheet is attached to the wooden slices after pressing it.

Step 6 – Cut the Extra Sheet

One easy step in this step is to simply cut around the wooden pieces with the extra sheet. It is due to the fact that it was not necessary to face any difficulties while smoothing all of the edges of those pieces. You may use the scissor for cutting the excess laminate sheet.

Step 7 – Smooth the Edges with Sandpaper

Using sandpaper, clean and smooth the edges of your desired wood project once you have cut the extra laminating sheet. In order to obtain the best results, the material must be cleaned.

Step 8 – Printing Through a Sublimation Printer

You cannot continue this project without the sublimation design print. Moreover, if you intend to do this all for your business, you will need better print to attract customers. By using the sublimation printer, you will be able to generate your print. The fact remains that not every printer can perform this task, and you will need to identify this. You cannot generate the expected results without the use of high-quality dye sublimation ink and sublimation paper.

In order for the ink to remain on the sublimation paper, the paper must be of high quality. As a result, the ink and the design are transferred onto the wood. It is also important to use high-quality sublimation ink when it comes to sublimation. It should not be scratched, it shouldn’t lose its color, and it should remain vibrant for a long period of time. Also, it should not be touchable so that you are not able to feel it when touching it.

Step 9 – Transferring the Design to the Wood

As soon as the printing is complete, it is time to transfer the print to the desired material. It is important to have a print design that is appropriate for your material. The printed design must now be placed on the laminated side of the wood pieces. Also, use heat-resistant tape to adhere the sublimation project design to the wood in order to prevent any ghosting.

Step 10 – Press the Wooden Pieces

You’re almost done! Take that wood piece back to the heat press. It’s important to place the parchment paper facing down so that the stuck sublimation design side is facing the heat. The wooden pieces should be pressed for 60 seconds after the proper settings have been made.

Step 11 – Remove the Sublimation Paper

Take care not to damage the wood when removing the paper from it. In cases where the sublimation transfer paper is hot, you may want to allow it to cool for a while or use gloves to remove it. That’s it! You are now ready to add vibrant colors to your sublimation prints.

sublimation on wood printed blanks and items

The Most Popular Ways to Sublimate on Wood

Using sublimation ink and heat, a design is printed onto a specially coated piece of wood. During this process, the ink transforms into a gas and penetrates the wood pores, producing a permanent and high-quality print.

Thermal Lamination Pouch

The wood is coated with thermal laminating pouches to prepare it for sublimation on wood. It is the same type of pouch that you would use in a laminator for papers. The coat does not require more than one sheet.

It is important to note that the sublimation print works best on polyester fabrics, which contain some type of plastic. Thermal pouches are made of plastic, so your design can be based on them.

The only thing you need to do is heat press laminating sheets for 30 seconds at 400°F under moderate pressure.

No Coating

The idea of sublimating on wood without a coating may be surprising to some, but there are still ways to do so with varying results. Compared to those with coating, the print quality may not be as vivid and clear.

It is important that all moisture from the wood be removed before printing your sublimation project. It is likely that this extra step will reduce your chances of success.

Polyacrylic Treatment

The use of polyacrylic treatment is also an option for curing wood. Sublimation paper, however, can adhere to wood when a polyacrylic layer is applied. You should then press the wood in a warmed-up heat press to expel any remaining moisture before applying medium pressure. Your design will be transferred to the wood in 30 to 60 seconds at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sanding Sealer

In comparison to polyacrylic, the sanding sealer is thinner. In this case, only a light coat is required. Simply wipe the sealer across the blank wood with a wet sponge or cloth.

Compared to polyacrylic, sanding sealer dries significantly faster, so your projects can be completed faster. The fact that it is less likely to cause sublimation transfer from sticking to the wood is also another benefit.

Tips for Getting the Best Results

The following tips will help you achieve the best results when sublimating on wood:

  • You should use a high-quality sublimation printer and sublimation paper for this process.
  • In order to achieve the best color reproduction, choose woods that are light in color.
  • The wood surface should be sanded to remove any rough spots or imperfections.
  • You should use a heat press with even pressure and temperature.
  • Use a warmed-up heat press.
  • Protect your press machine’s bottom platen from scratches with parchment paper.
  • There are two sheets in a lamination pouch, so you can use one for different things.
  • It’s best to use the glossy side of laminate sheets as a coating.
  • A more affordable option is to convert an Epson inkjet printer to a sublimation printer.
  • For this project, only use dye sublimation.
  • Increasing the pressure will result in better ink transfer.
  • During the printing process, use a pressing pad to prevent the wood from warping.

Care and Maintenance of Sublimated Wood Products

The following tips can be helpful in maintaining and caring for sublimated wood products:

  • Direct sunlight should be avoided in order to prevent fading.
  • The surface of the wood should be cleaned with a soft cloth.
  • Do not use harsh chemicals or abrasives on your prints, as these may damage them.
  • In order to prevent warping or cracking, it is recommended that the wood be stored in a cool, dry place.
sublimation on wood printed blanks

Avoid These Common Mistakes

The following tips will help you avoid common mistakes when sublimating on wood:

  • It is possible to obtain poor-quality prints by using a low-quality sublimation printer or sublimation paper.
  • The color of the print can be altered by selecting a dark-colored wood.
  • It is possible for the wood to warp or crack if you apply too much pressure.
  • If the sanding step is skipped, the surface will be uneven and the print quality will be poor.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do you need to sublimate on wood?

For sublimating your wooden blank, you will need a sublimation printer, sublimation ink, sublimation papers, a heat press, and thermal laminating paper. You should also make use of the safety gear mentioned above to protect your material and the heat press.

What is the best way to prepare wood for sublimation?

You can prepare the wood by coating it with polyacrylic and laminating it. The only thing you need to do is to ensure that you have the right size laminating sheet for wood and cover it with butcher paper. Put the items in the heat press and press them for 60 seconds. Now that the paper is stuck to the wood, it’s ready to sublimate.

Is it possible to sublimate on wood signs?

By following the same method of thermal laminating sheets, you can easily sublimate signs on wood. Using the software, you will design the sign and then print it using a sublimation printer. After that, the sign is transferred through heat transfer.

Is it possible to sublimate bamboo wood?

For the best results, sublimation accepts only polyester coating materials. Sublimating bamboo alone is not possible unless it is coated before sublimation. The bamboo wood must be prepared using a polyacrylic coating process.

Is it possible to sublimate on painted wood?

Yes, it is possible to sublimate painted wood by following the same process of transferring the design to the material. Our recommendation is to use MDF-painted wood for the sublimation process. This wood is painted and does not have a natural wood grain.

What’s the best way to sublimate a picture on wood?

It is necessary to heat your heat press to 385 degrees Fahrenheit in order to prepare the wood for the sublimation process. Following this, place the wood adhered with transfer paper covered with a Teflon sheet. It is important to make sure that the sublimation paper side is facing up and to press it for 60 seconds.

Final Thoughts

With so many methods and different techniques to explore, we have done our best to deliver our best. It has been found that the thermal laminating sheet method is the most appropriate method for this specific technique. By using this process, you are able to sublimate uncoated wood. The polyacrylic application or the sublimation coating spray does not need to be applied to the wood before the desired design is transferred.

It is important that you follow all the steps carefully, as well as the recommended temperature and time, in order to complete the process. Nevertheless, if you are unsure of the temperature at which wood is sublimated, you can ask the shopkeeper from where you purchased it. A single mistake can result in the ruin of your design and your material.

Enis Sh
Enis Sh

As an innovative IT Tech entrepreneur I bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table. Stay ahead of the curve with up-to-the-minute tech news and reviews, while diving into the realm of computer hardware geekery.

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