Tiling Your Sublimation Blanks

A sublimated 20z skinny tumbler sits in front of the Silverbolt MugPro5.

Sublimation can be a great method for making customized items such as drinkware. It’s a fun and easy way to create beautiful custom pieces that are much more durable than vinyl. Our mug presses, such as the Endurapress MP5 and the SilverBolt MugPro 5, make things that much easier! The Endurapress MP5 also has optional fittings in different sizes for even more choices such as conical tumblers and skinny tumblers. However, you may still notice that you can’t press the entire cup when doing a wrap.

The Problem

The Endurapress MP5 has several different fittings for various sizes of cups, but even still, not all cups will fit perfectly. You may also notice that the press doesn’t close completely around a cup, and it should not. The SilverBolt MugPro 5 does not have the optional fittings, but its pressure settings will still help it close around most cups. It will also have a small gap in one side. This will all lead to imperfections in your sublimation. Thankfully, there’s a solution!

How To Tile

To fix this problem, we must tile during the sublimation process. This simply means that we’ll turn or move it to sublimate any parts that aren’t being sublimated after the initial press. 

After printing your wrap, you’ll need to prep the cup to go into the press. Roll the paper around the cup and place small pieces of sublimation tape around the top and bottom edges. Cut off the excess, and tape the seam. It’s time to press the cup!

First, you’ll place your cup into the press and do your initial press as you normally would. For metal tumblers, you press for 60 seconds at 400°F. There will be a gap in the press on one side. This is normal because most presses are made for cups with handles. Once the initial press is finished, you’ll want to turn the cup, so the part that faced that gap in the press will now be turned towards the heating element. You don’t need to press this side as long. I recommend about 20 seconds. Once that’s finished, it’ll need to be submerged in water to cool, so be sure that you have that ready as soon as your cup comes out of the press. Now that your cup is cool, you can take it out and dry it off a bit. Finally, peel the paper off and enjoy!

Tiling Taller Mugs

The press may be shorter than the cup as well. For example, the SilverBolt MugPro 5’s fittings are all the same height, and a skinny tumbler, for instance, is much taller. In this case, you will need to flip the cup, or if you’re using the Endurapress, you’ll slide it down to get the next half and repeat the process from earlier. Do your initial press and rotate the cup.

Tips

Fig. 1: This is a great example of what tiling should look like when done right.

Choosing the Right Cup

There are a few other things you can do to make sure this goes smoothly. First, I recommend doing this on a white cup. Your transfers come out looking much cleaner and nicer. (Fig. 1) You’ll need to choose the right sized cup as well. Certain sized cups are too skinny to be pressed. Be careful of any cups that have an outer diameter of less than 3 inches.

Fig. 2: This cup was too large for the press which explains the stripe in the middle, and the dark background came out muddled.

Transparent Backgrounds

When doing a wrap, I recommend picking a print with either a transparent or light-colored background. Darker colors sometimes come out looking a little muddled, and it’s much easier to hide seams in the transparent background. (Fig. 2)

Fig. 3: The seam on this cup was difficult to cover because it was wrapped with an image.

Hiding the Seam

That brings me to my next tip. The seam can be tricky to hide, so it’s best to use patterns or backgrounds of the same color where you can easily match your ends. Wrapping an image usually looks odd because you can’t match the ends. (Fig. 3)

Fig. 4: Tape was used incorrectly along the seam, and now, there’s a large mark where the
tape was.

Sublimation Tape

Lastly, the sublimation tape is a great tool, and it’s very important for wrapping cups. However, it’s also very important that you remember to use it sparingly, especially on the seams. The tape may show through on some transfers when too much is used. (Fig. 4)

Even with the limitations of the equipment, there are workarounds. Tiling is a great method for sublimating cups whether you just need a wrap or they’re too tall for your press. By following the instructions above, you’ll be pressing cups and creating beautiful custom wraps before you know it!