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How to Make Sublimation Tumblers- A Comprehensive Guide

How to Make Sublimation Tumblers- A Comprehensive Guide

You want to craft sublimation tumblers that stand the test of time. Take into account that sublimating tumblers is simple. However, like other crafting works, you should also be familiar with the process and practice for sublimating tumblers.

We have presented this comprehensive guide on making sublimation tumblers, which elaborates on the process from tool selection to the final heat press. By the end, you’ll get a beautiful customised tumbler with a vibrant design that does not fade or peel.

Let’s explore the art of sublimation tumblers or the fantastic ocean of sublimation together!

Principles for sublimating tumblers:

To make sublimation tumblers remember three things as follows;

  • First, only use sublimation paper with sublimation ink. 
  • Second, only use dedicated sublimation tumblers, not just any tumbler. 
  • Lastly, use a heat press machine made for tall tumblers, not for mugs.

Sublimating tumblers is not rocket science as long as you consider these three principles.

Key features of sublimation tumblers:

When selecting a sublimation blank tumbler, check out these features:

  1. The sublimation tumblers are made of double-wall for temperature maintenance and smooth image transfer surface.
  2. They are skinny straight and insulated, with clear lids and metal or plastic straws that are famous among sublimation artists.
  3. They must have a specialised poly coating for proper design adhesion and long-lasting vibrancy.
  4. Moreover, stainless steel tumblers for sublimation are usually available in light colours like white and silver because sublimation prints work best on light or white surfaces only.

Supplies needed for tumbler sublimation:

You need to gather these supplies to sublimate on tumblers,

  1. Sublimation printer (with sublimation ink)
  2. Heat press machine for tall tumblers (using a heat press for mugs may limit your prints)
  3. Heat-resistant tape
  4. Heat-resistant gloves
  5. Blank sublimation tumbler (white or silver)
  6. Sublimation paper
  7. Cleaning supplies: Lint roller, clean cloth, and alcohol
  8. Scissors or cutter and cutting mat board
  9. Ruler or tape measure
  10. Sublimation wrap or sublimation shrink wrap

Ultimate guide on how to make sublimation tumblers:

Follow the given guide step-by-step to sublimate tumblers with brilliant colourful design prints;

1. Sublimation tumbler designing:

When you have all the necessary supplies, it’s time to unleash creativity and design your sublimation tumbler. You can edit the design of your choice, whether a simple logo or an intricate pattern. Just show talent and sublimate your tumbler with bright colours by transferring vision.

This step includes; crafting the design and preparing the file.

. Sublimation design crafting:

Designing your sublimation tumbler is where the fun begins! You have numerous software options to help, like,, Adobe Illustrator, and Photoshop.

Photoshop is great for creating designs from scratch. It lets you customise text, resize images, and ensure accurate colours. Cricut Design Space is another option. It helps import designs and manage colours easily.

. Prepare your print file:

It is a critical step in the sublimation process so pay close attention to its detail.

In this regard, practice the following strategies to achieve your goal;

  • Size your design: Make it 9.3 inches by 8.2 inches for a full wrap of a 20 oz skinny tumbler.
  • Mirror your design: Flip it horizontally before printing, especially if it contains text, to ensure it transfers correctly.
  • Print your design: Use Adobe Photoshop or Microsoft Publisher for compatibility with sublimation requirements.
  • Trim your printed design to fit the tumbler, leaving a small overhang at the top and bottom for full coverage upon transfer.

2. Pre-Sublimation tumbler preparation:

Now your design is printed, so prepare your tumbler for sublimation. It includes cleaning it thoroughly and applying the sublimation print. Ensure proper preparation for a flawless result, so let’s discuss how to do it rightly.

.Tumbler cleaning:

To ensure a successful sublimation process, clean the tumbler, and free it from dust, dirt, and fingerprints. Here’s how you should clean your tumbler:

  • Use rubbing alcohol to clean oils or residues from the tumbler.
  • Use a lint roller to remove the dust particles.
  • After cleaning, make sure the tumbler is dried.
  • Lint roll the tumbler again to prevent stray fibers from interfering with the sublimation process.

. Apply the sublimation print:

Once your tumbler is clean, carefully apply your sublimation print as follows;

  • Align the print with the tumbler surface.
  • Secure it tightly with heat-resistant tape to prevent shifting.
  • Trim the design with a slight overhang at the top and bottom.
  • Wrap the paper around the tumbler, ensuring a slight overlap at the seam to avoid white space.

3. Master the heat transfer process:

It’s time for the heat transfer process, the big moment! This is when your design goes from paper to your tumbler. Let’s make sure to do it perfectly.

. Use a tumbler heat press:

A tumbler heat press is essential for the sublimation process. So, set the heat press in the following ways;

  • Ensure the heat press has tight and even pressure before placing your tumbler inside it for proper print transferring.
  • Apply the sublimation paper to the tumbler.
  • Wrap kraft paper around the tumbler to protect it and the heat press during sublimation.

This is how you can successfully use a tumbler heat press.

  • Tumbler heat presses include attachments for mugs and skinny tumblers of various sizes. It ranges from 11-15 oz for mugs to 12-30 oz for skinny tumblers.
  • In addition, if you use the Cricut mug press, Teflon sheets can help ensure better heat application.

Sublimate in a convection oven:

If you don’t have a tumbler heat press, you can use a convection oven for sublimating tumblers by pursuing the below tips;

  • Set the oven to the right temperature for sublimation (around 375°F).
  • Put the tumbler in the oven.
  • Warm the oven up to 375°F.
  • Once heated, put your tumbler in a special sleeve in the oven.
  • Set a timer for six minutes.
  • After it’s done, take out the tumbler. Remove the sleeve and transfer sheet carefully.

4. Finishing or post-sublimation:

Follow up the finishing steps after sublimating the tumbler, understanding post-sublimation will keep your sublimated tumbler vibrant and attractive for a long time.

. Cooling and peeling:

After the final press, let your tumbler cool on a heat-resistant surface for a few minutes. This helps the ink set properly. Once it’s cool enough to handle, peel off the sublimation paper.

Peeling the paper reveals your vibrant design underneath, like unwrapping a gift. Treat it gently to avoid damage.

.Take care of your sublimated tumbler:

To keep your decorated tumbler looking great follow the instructions;

  • Hand wash it with soapy water to protect the design.
  • Avoid using the dishwasher if you can. The heat and detergent can fade the print.
  • While using the dishwasher place the tumbler on the top rack with mild detergent and skip drying.
  • Furthermore, always avoid harsh cleaners that could damage the design.

5. Advanced techniques and alternative methods:

Indeed sublimation is excellent for customising tumblers, but there are other methods too. Let’s explore some alternatives, like silicone wraps and hydro dipping, each with advantages.

  • Add epoxy for durability and shine: 

To make your sublimated tumbler more durable and shiny, add epoxy.

Follow these steps to apply epoxy;

  • Mix equal parts of resin and hardener.
  • Spread the mixture evenly over the tumbler with a silicone brush.
  • Rotate the tumbler on a cup-turner for even coverage.
  • Let it cure as per the instructions. Apply a second coat if necessary.

Alternative to sublimation printing:

Infusible Ink Transfer Sheets offer an alternative to sublimation printing.

Use them according to the below guide;

  • Wrap up your tumbler with the sheet and secure it with heat-resistant tape.
  • Place the tumbler in a shrink-wrap sleeve.
  • Proceed with the heat transfer process as usual.

The outcome is a vibrant, durable design that won’t fade or peel.

Wrapping up:

Congratulations on completing your journey into sublimation tumblers! You’ve learned about tools, design, preparation, heat transfer, finishing touches, and care, and even explored advanced techniques. You’re all set to craft your stunning tumblers. Let your creativity shine and get started!


  1. What happens if we use regular blank tumblers for sublimation?

If you use regular blank tumblers without a poly coating instead of those designed for sublimation, two things may happen: the print won’t stick, and the tumbler, or parts of it, may melt during sublimation.

  1. Can we sublimate tumblers with Cricut Mug Press?

You can use but it is better to use a tumbler press, not the Cricut Mug Press, for sublimating tumblers. Tumblers are taller and skinnier, making them a challenge for the Mug Press due to size.

  1. Can we make sublimation tumblers without using a sublimation printer?

You can create sublimation tumblers without a sublimation printer using alternatives like infusible ink papers, pre-printed sublimation papers, infusible ink pens, and acrylic sublimation paints. These methods can be effective for sublimating items without a printer.

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