Sublimation printing is a popular technique for transferring high-quality images onto various materials, including garments, mugs, and phone cases. However, owning a sublimation printer can be costly and may not be viable for everyone in the growing market.
Fortunately, alternative methods can achieve similar results without needing a sublimation printer. This article will explore how to sublimate without a sublimation printer. A step-by-step guide is provided along with tips and tricks to help you print professional-level prints at some without a printer.
- Sublimation blanks (We have used an H-E Plain Sublimation Blank pillow case)
- Infusible ink pens (Cricut Infusible Ink Pens)
- Cricut machine (Cricut Maker 3)
- (Easy Press 2)
- Blue mat
- Lint roller
- Heat resistant tape
Steps to Sublimate Without a Sublimation Printer
I have selected a pillow case as a sublimation blank for the project. While choosing any substrate or material for sublimation, ensure it is polyester coated for excellent output. You can create a unique design with a few supplies and basic instructions to make your pillowcase stand out. Here are the steps you need to follow to customize your pillowcase.
Step 1: Choose Your Design
To make a personalized pillowcase, the first step is to choose a design. You can use any design you like or create your own using a design software program. The Cricut Design Space is a great option for creating your designs. You can choose from a variety of fonts, shapes, and images to create a design that is unique to you.
In Cricut Design Space, you can find thousands of images to work with, both drawn and cut. Please select the desired images and arrange them on your canvas. Resize them as needed to fit your substrate. Once you have your design, group the elements together and attach them so that they will print on the same sheet of paper.
Step 2: Load Your Mat and Pen
Once your design is selected, loading your mat and pen is time. The Cricut machine will prompt you to load the correct pen color for each sheet of paper or vinyl. To begin drawing using infusible ink, place the mat into the machine after loading the proper pen, and then click the “Go” button.
After the design is ready, take the paper off the mat without curling.
Step 3: Cut Your Design
Once your design is ready, it’s time to fill the color with infusible pens and cut it. You can cut the designs separately if you want to place them in your way on the material. You can cut each print with scissors.
Step 4: Prepare the Substrate
Once done with the design, it’s time to move toward the substrate, which is the pillowcase in our case. Remove lint or dirt from your pillowcase cover with a lint roller. Place the blue mat on your work surface, followed by the pillowcase cover, and secure it with heat tape. Place the infusible ink design on top of the pillowcase cover, ensuring it is centered and secure with heat tape. Cover the design with a protective sheet.
Step 5: Press
Finally, it’s time to press your design onto your pillowcase. If you’re using heat transfer vinyl, set your EasyPress to the recommended temperature and time for the material.
Step 6: Remove the Sublimation Paper
Once the item has been pressed, carefully remove the sublimation paper while it is still slightly warm. Be careful not to touch the design with your hands, as it may still be hot.
Tips and Tricks
- Test your design on scrap material before pressing onto your final item.
- Use high-quality sublimation paper to ensure the best transfer results.
- When pressing onto fabric, use a fabric that is at least 50% polyester for the best results.
- Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to avoid damaging your equipment and supplies.
- To avoid getting ink on your heat press or iron, always use a sheet of butcher paper or parchment paper on top of your sublimation paper before pressing.
Sublimation printing is an effective and popular way to create high-quality designs on various materials. However, not everyone can afford a sublimation printer. By following the steps outlined and utilizing readily available materials, anyone can achieve professional-looking sublimation prints without needing a sublimation printer. Practice and experiment with different materials and pressing times to achieve the best results.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is a sublimation printer preferable?
Even though having your dedicated sublimation printer is better, many crafters who want to experiment with the occasional sublimation project don’t need one. In addition, owning a sublimation printer also depends on the type of printing work you are dealing with. You can have your prints without a sublimation printer for personal purposes, but it is recommended to get a sublimation printer if you are looking for business purposes.
Can I sublimate with my regular printer?
No, it needs a specialized printer because sublimation uses a unique heat-activated ink. Some regular inkjet printers can be turned into sublimation printers by putting sublimation ink in the ink tanks. These printers employ a refillable ink tank system and cartridges and are compatible with unique sublimation inks.
What material is best for sublimation without a printer?
Polyester fabric is recommended when you are printing without a printer. Printing hard materials such as mugs or tumblers requires a polyester-coated sublimation blank that is more effective for high-quality prints.
Does sublimation work with pure cotton?
If you attempt to use sublimation on 100%cotton, the sublimation will wash out easily. This happens because the natural cotton fibers and the synthetic sublimation dye can’t make a chemical bond.
How heat press and iron press are different?
What sets iron and heat press apart is the heat pressing area. A standard heat press has a bigger pressing area than an iron. The pressing surface of heat presses is significantly greater (the standard size is 15×15 inches). A heat press makes your finished product look much more professional.