Sublimation Supplies: Explore Creative Possibilities

Would you like to add personalized designs to your products as a crafter, artist, or small business owner? In this case, you may be interested in sublimation, a printing technique that uses heat and pressure to transfer ink to various surfaces.

There are a few basic sublimation supplies and tools that you will need to get started with sublimation. We will cover everything you need to know about sublimation supplies and tools in this article.

You bought a sublimation printer, you are now ready to print! A heat press, sublimation ink, and your favorite sublimation blanks are all you need to get started.

But what other tools, products, and supplies would be useful to you for sublimation crafting?

What is Sublimation?

As a printing technique, sublimation uses heat and pressure to transfer ink to various surfaces, including fabric, ceramics, metals, and plastics. With sublimation printing, the ink turns into a gas when heated, which bonds with the surface’s fibers or coating, resulting in vibrant and durable prints.

The process of sublimation is a very popular method for creating personalized products, such as mugs, tees, phone cases, and home decor items.

Sublimation Supplies and Tools

How to Choose the Right Sublimation Supplies and Tools

If you are new to sublimation printing, selecting the right sublimation supplies and tools can be challenging. The following factors should be considered when choosing sublimation supplies and tools:

  • Budget: Sublimation supplies and tools can be expensive in the shop, so you should set a budget and prioritize the most important items according to your budget.
  • Purpose: Take time to consider the products you intend to create and select the tools and supplies that are appropriate to the surface and the desired effect.
  • Quality: Make sure you invest in high-quality supplies and tools that will produce consistent and long-lasting prints, regardless of how much they cost initially.
  • Compatibility: Make sure that the sublimation printer, paper, and ink are compatible with each other as well as the surface you will be printing on.
  • Brand: Look for reputable brands that offer warranties, customer service, and online resources for troubleshooting and inspiration.

Supplies and Tools That Are Essential for Sublimation

It is necessary to have a few essential supplies and tools before you can begin sublimation. A few of the most common ones are listed below:

Sublimation Paper

Sublimation paper is a special type of paper used for the transfer of images using sublimation ink onto surfaces. When heated, a special coating on sublimation paper reacts with the sublimation ink to transfer the image to the surface. Depending on the surface on which the image you plan to print, sublimation paper comes in a variety of sizes and types, such as glossy or matte.

Sublimation Ink

The term “sublimation ink” refers to a special type of ink that turns into a gas when heated and bonds with the fibers or coating of the surface. The ink for sublimation printing comes in a variety of colors and formulations, such as CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) or RGB (red, green, blue), depending on the printer and the surface being printed on.

Heat Press Machine

As the name implies, a heat press machine is a specialized device that applies heat and pressure to blanks in order to transfer the sublimation ink from the paper to the surface of the item. According to the size and thickness of the sublimation blanks you are using, heat press machines come in various sizes and types, such as clamshells and swing-away units.

sublimation paper, sublimation ink and heat press mahine

Sublimation Blanks

The term “sublimation blanks” refers to products that are specifically designed for the sublimation printing process, such as mugs, t-shirts, phone cases, and home decor items. Depending on the desired effect, sublimation blanks come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and materials. Ceramics, metal, glass, and polyester are common materials for sublimation blanks.

Heat Resistant Tape

In order to prevent your printed transfer from shifting during pressing, heat-resistant tape is used to secure it to your blank. It is more common for me these days to use my Heat-Resistant Adhesive Spray, which is listed below, however, the tape is less expensive in price and usually easier to find, so it is on my list of must-haves.

Butcher Paper

A piece of butcher paper will protect both your blank from the heat plate and your heat press plates from ink bleed-through. When I first began buying butcher paper in a shop, I purchased it in rolls. Now I buy it in sheets (which are generally used for deli meats). The handling of sheets of butcher paper is very easy, about a million times easier than dealing with butcher paper on a roll. Ensure that the butcher paper you purchase is unwaxed and uncoated.

Sublimation Blanks, heat resistant tape and butcher paper rolls

Lint Roller

The best way to prepare a blank for sublimation is to run a lint roller over the entire surface before pressing. It is possible for dust, lint, and other small particles to cause spots on your transfer and other problems. The use of a lint roller will help you to avoid this problem. If you are cleaning non-porous surfaces, you can use rubbing alcohol, which I have linked below.

Polyester Fabric for Testing

A wise decision I made was to purchase several yards of 100% polyester fabric. My prints have been tested on the cheaper blanks prior to being printed and sublimated on the more expensive blanks. The benefit of doing this is that any issues I might encounter with my print (usually involving color) are discovered BEFORE the image is transferred to the blank. This is something I highly recommend.

Scissors and Cutting Tools

In order to cut the sublimation paper or blanks to the desired design, shape, or size, scissors and cutting tools are used. By using sharp scissors and cutting tools, you will be able to achieve clean, easy, and precise cuts, resulting in a product that looks professional.

Cleaners and Solvents

Sublimation printers and heat presses require cleaning and maintenance using cleaners and solvents. Keeping the tools and sublimation supplies clean and maintained will extend their life and ensure high-quality prints.

Polyester Fabric, scissors and cutting tools

Nice to Have Sublimation Supplies and Tools

The following items are extremely helpful to have, but don’t feel obligated to purchase them all at once! By experimenting with your sublimation printer more and more time together, over time you will discover which of these items will be most beneficial to you.

Auto-Cut Tape Dispenser

It is essential to have heat-resistant tape, but if you would like to make the process easier on yourself, check out this awesome tape dispenser. The cutter can hold up to four types of tape, and it automatically cuts pieces as you spin the wheel. Tape dispensers make this process extremely convenient by dispensing perfectly sized pieces of tape, allowing you to tape down your transfer to the blank in a timely and efficient manner. This is a great product.

Cotton Balls and Rubbing Alcohol

For cleaning blank items before applying for your transfer, a lint roller will work fine, but I have found that rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball works better than a lint roller on things like mugs. It is a matter of personal preference, but you may wish to try using this combination along with a lint roller.

Heat-Resistant Adhesive Spray

As I mentioned previously, I am a huge fan of my heat-resistant adhesive spray. The adhesive can be sprayed on the transfer and applied directly to the blank instead of using tape. There is no residue left on the blank by the adhesive, and the transfer is not affected by it. It is so simple.

Heat-Resistant Gloves

With these heat-resistant gloves, you can easily remove a pressed item from a hot press. When I used to use a pot holder, I fussed with it, but now I just wear these gloves and I am able to move items from my hot press to my cooling machine. This is an easy and inexpensive process.

Auto-Cut Tape Dispenser, rubbing alchohol, heat resistant gloves and heat resistant spray

Heat-Resistant Mat

You will probably need a heat-resistant mat for your hot projects when you move things to a cooling area. There is an EasyPress mat available for purchase from Cricut, but I prefer to use my wool pressing mat most often. The material is slightly thicker and more durable, so items like tumblers don’t fall over quite so easily.

Pressing Pillow

Pressing pillows can be used on soft blanks and garments with zippers, buttons, seams, and pockets to achieve an even press. The pillow is inserted within the shirt or other blank so that the pressing surface is raised above any troublesome areas of the garment in order to achieve an even pressing.

Heat-Conductive Rubber Pad

For some blanks, such as ceramic tiles, it may be necessary to use a heat-conductive rubber pad so that the pad can conform to the shape of the blank more effectively. According to the manufacturer’s instructions, you will find out whether you need a press and how to use it. The cost of these machines is quite high, so be sure you really need one for the type of project or design you intend to undertake.

Nomex Pad

There is also the option of using a Nomex pad. This is a thick piece of felt that is used very much like a rubber pad when pressing. If you are using a convection oven for sublimation blanks, you may also wish to use Nomex pads inside the oven to prevent the blank from being damaged by rack lines. Depending on the type of blank you are using, these may also be difficult to find and with expensive prices. However, they may be necessary if you are using certain types of sublimation blanks.

Final Thoughts

In order to achieve consistent and high-quality prints with sublimation printing, it is necessary to have the right supplies and tools. A high-quality set of sublimation supplies and tools can make all the difference in your workflow and your final product, regardless of whether you are a beginner or an experienced sublimation printer.

Choose the right supplies and tools to ensure your sublimation printing business thrives and grows, from your sublimation supplies, ink, and paper to heat press machines and cutting tools.

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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