A DIY Guide on Sublimation Tumblers

A woman holding a custom sublimation tumbler next to her laptop on a table.

Sublimation is a great way to create customized designs on your shirts, bags,and other clothing items. That said, did you also know that you can use it to make custom designs for tumblers? Whether you use them as gifts or products to sell as part of your online or in-person business, designing and detailing your unique tumblers through sublimation can be a fun, easy, and gratifying DIY project. In the DIY guide below, our team of passionate customization experts from Avance Vinyl will explore the basics of the tumbler sublimation process so that you can get your next project off the ground with ease!

Please keep going to find out more about the process, and also consider browsing through our wide selection of other fantastic articles covering critical DIY topics. We offer essential know-how on everything from how to effectively cut heat transfer vinyl to the best t-shirt printing methods you can try for yourself.

Related: Sawgrass Virtuoso SG400 or SG800 Sublimation System

Sublimation Tumblers: The Basics to Note

Tumblers launched onto the DIY crafting scene several years back and have become an excellent choice for sublimation projects. People can turn sublimation tumblers into gorgeous works of unique art perfect for personal use, gifts, or to sell through this process!

To start, let’s explore the basics of what sublimation tumblers are. In short, tumblers are a type of drinking container typically made from stainless steel or other materials. Sublimation tumblers are unique, however, in that they’re covered in a kind of ink transfer sublimation coating, which allows design transfers to occur. Sublimation is a popular chemical process used to take things directly from a solid to a gaseous state, skilling the liquid phase to imbed designs into polyester substrates or other materials using heat.

The sublimation process is excellent for creating top-quality, permanent, crack and peel-proof designs to create a professional-looking product!

Now that we’ve covered the essentials, let’s delve into the materials you’ll need to make your sublimation tumblers, along with the steps for the DIY process itself.

Are you interested in trying out sublimation or heat transfer vinyl as part of your next big DIY project this year? Check out our specialized selection of top-quality products at Avance Vinyl today to find all of the materials you’ll need to get your projects up and running!

Sublimation Tumblers: Key Supplies

A colorful tumbler with flower sublimation decals on a desk next to a phone and laptop.

Related: The Complete Guide to Heat Press Time and Temperature

How to Make A Sublimation Tumbler Step-By-Step

A black tumbler with a yellow sublimated business logo on it.

Now that you have your materials let’s cover the steps you’ll need to customize your unique sublimation tumbler!

Step 1: Find a Print a Sublimation Design

While you can always order pre-made sublimation designs online, we believe it’s much more fun to choose or create your own design and print it out yourself. When using a sublimation printer or another type of printer compatible with sublimation printing (such as an InkJet), you can print anything from graphics to photos! You can also leverage some great resources to locate different sublimation designs, like; Design Bundles or Creative Fabrica.  

Once you have your ideal design ready to go, all you have to do is print it out onto a sheet of sublimation paper with some sublimation ink! However, you need to flip or mirror your design before printing it out; otherwise, it will go onto the tumbler backward.

Step 2: Prep Your Tumbler 

Next, you’ll want to tightly wrap the design around your tumbler and secure it with heat-resistant tape to prepare it for the heating transfer process. Be sure you align your design to the edge of the tumbler and that the image is held where you want it to transfer onto the tumbler. This may take a series of attempts before you can position everything to your liking, but the result should be well worth your extra efforts. 

You don’t want to end up disappointed with the placement of your design, after all!

Step 3: Heat Things Up!

Now that your design is securely in place, it’s time to heat it up so that it embeds onto the coating of the tumbler. There are a few ways you can do this, but we’ll be going over the most common method used since few people have access to an industrial tumbler mug press. Instead, people typically rely on their standard oven or a convection toaster oven!

When leveraging the oven route to heat your tumbler and trigger the sublimation process, you’ll first need to cover the tumbler with sublimation shrink wrap. This tactic will help hold the design more firmly against the tumbler during the heating process and provide the correct pressure needed to ensure a clean transfer.

Total heating time and temperature depend on the kind of transfer you’re doing. For example, a convection toaster oven will quickly heat a tumbler and only take a few minutes, depending on the power level. But a traditional oven can take as much as 15 minutes at 400 degrees.

We recommend rotating the tumbler throughout the process to help produce the best transfer results!

After the transfer process is complete, we recommend waiting for the tumbler to cool down slightly before stripping away the heat-resistant tape and paper. Be sure to wear your heat-resistant gloves to avoid burns!

Once that’s done, you should have a great new tumbler detailed with a unique design.

Related: Best Heat Transfer Vinyl on the Market

Final Thoughts and Factors to Consider

Our DIY customization experts at Avance Vinyl hope that the above article told you everything you needed to know about the fantastic process of creating your own DIY sublimation tumblers. If you’d like to learn even more about the sublimation process or other excellent DIY methods to customize your clothing, please consider looking through our website for some helpful information!

Are you a passionate DIYer looking for a new selection of fantastic crafts and activities to occupy your time? At Avance Vinyl, we’re proud to offer a massive selection of top-quality products to support all of your sublimation and heat transfer vinyl needs, so check out our shop today!

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