Can You Sublimate On Vinyl? 3 Easy Steps To Do It

Can you sublimate on vinyl

Can you sublimate on vinyl? Yes, sublimation on vinyl is achievable, it’s not an impossible task, but it’s difficult. There are many things you should know about it, like what type of vinyl you need, what’s the procedure of sublimation and so on. Without knowing these things, sublimation results won’t be good. So let’s learn about all of these things and find the answers to all questions.

How Does Sublimation Works On Vinyl?

We all know that for sublimation, one thing is necessary – polyester material substrate. If you don’t have it, then you can apply poly-coating yourself or you can use vinyl; it will help in sublimating on materials that aren’t made for sublimation, like 100% cotton. But how does it work? 

First, we sublimate the design or image on the sublimation paper, then we attach the vinyl to the object with the help of a heat press. Afterward, the sublimation paper will be attached not to the object but to vinyl (on the side that has poly-coating). Heat press the vinyl again for about 40 – 60 seconds. Following this process, the design will transfer into vinyl from the sublimation paper. 

In the end, you can remove the sublimation paper from vinyl and the design is ready, the method works on most of the material, e.g., ceramic mugs (non-poly-coated), cotton t-shirts, etc. That’s how sublimation works on vinyl. So, does that mean we can sublimate on all types of vinyl? Let’s learn about it. 

What Vinyl Can You Sublimate On?

There are basically two main types of vinyl, the permanent one, and the removable vinyl. Both are good and work great, but we only need permanent HTV (heat transfer vinyl) for sublimation. 

Removable vinyl is like stickers that anyone can detach from an object in a matter of seconds. In short, the removable vinyl can’t be attached to the fabric or any object permanently. While the permanent vinyl has a longer life, you can attach it to the substrate and it will remain for years. 

Therefore, you must have permanent vinyl for sublimation. It doesn’t matter whether it’s glossy or mate; you just need to make sure it’s permanent vinyl.

How To Sublimate On Vinyl? A Complete Guide 

Now let’s move towards our guide about how you can sublimate on vinyl and what things you need for the entire process. 

Things You Need To Sublimate On Vinyl

Here are the things that you need before you start sublimation on vinyl.  

  1. Sublimation printer. 
  2. Cricut maker machine. 
  3. Vinyl. 
  4. Software (Canva and Cricut design space). 
  5. Substrate (it can be a t-shirt, glass, mug, or anything). 
  6. Heat-resistant tape 
  7. Heat-resistant gloves. 
  8. Butcher paper. 
  9. Teflon sheet.
  10. Heat press or mug press (depending on the shape of your substrate). 

Step By Step Process to Sublimate On Vinyl

Step 1 – Print The Image On Sublimation Paper 

The first and most important step is to find the image or design you’ll use for the sublimation. You can create the image using tools like Canva or download copy-right free images from any website.

After downloading the image, check the size of the substrate with a measuring tape. If it’s a glass substrate, mug, or jar, and you’re planning to sublimate on the entire substrate, the. measure the length of the entire object. Otherwise, you have to measure a particular area where you’ll sublimate.

Then go to the Cricut design space, set the design according to the substrate, and print it on the sublimation paper.

Step 2 – Use Cricut Maker Machine 

The next step is to use the Cricut maker machine. Since you’ve already printed the image, cut the extra part of the sublimation paper with the help of the Cricut maker machine. Then, place the vinyl sheet on the Cricut mat (the shiny side should touch the mat surface) and cut it as per the design in the Cricut maker machine.

Step 3 – Use Heat Press Or Mug Press 

After cutting both things, attach the vinyl part to the object; we’re using a t-shirt which is why you’ll read the guide about heat press setting here. You can do the same thing in the mug press; just make sure to set the temperature per the material.

Going back to the topic, first press the t-shirt to remove wrinkles, then set the heat press at about 390 to 400 degrees (we’re at 392)for about five seconds. Attach the vinyl to the shirt, put a Teflon sheet on top and use a heat press machine.

Afterward, remove the transparent part of the vinyl but remember not to touch it without wearing heat-resistant gloves. Then place the sublimation design on the top of the vinyl, which we’ve cut with the Cricut maker.

The color side of the sublimation design should come on the top while the other side should touch the bottom. Set the sublimation design with heat-resistant tape, add butcher paper on top, and use a heat press for up to 50 seconds. Congratulations, your sublimation design is ready.

Important Note: The same procedure is for other substrates like glass and cutting board. First, print the image, then cut the vinyl and sublimation paper with a Cricut maker according to the design. Attach the vinyl to the object, heat press it, and secure the sublimation design to the object side that has vinyl and heat press again. 

Remember that selecting the right temperature according to the material is the key to success, so set it correctly. After heat pressing the image, remove the sublimation paper, and your image is permanently attached. 

Important Things To Consider While Sublimating With Vinyl 

  1. Before attaching the vinyl to any substrate (not a t-shirt or any fabric), clean the part well with alcohol, let it dry then follow further steps. 
  2. If you’re sublimating with vinyl on a t-shirt, then make sure you’ve cleaned the area, and remove the wrinkles by pressing it with an iron or heat press. 
  3. In case the t-shirt has a dark color like black, then use HTV, not clear adhesive vinyl, and follow the proper guidelines for sublimating on a dark t-shirt. 
  4. Remember to select the mirror setting before printing the image. 

Final Words 

No doubt, the process of sublimation on vinyl is quite tricky. You need to practice a lot and experiment with different temperature settings on different objects; then, you’ll start achieving success. Our suggestion for you to write down the temperature setting in a notebook will be helpful since you’re a beginner and no one can learn everything at once.

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