Can you sublimate on glass? Do you want to try but still have any doubts? This process is much easier than you think. There is everything you always wanted to know about glass sublimation but were afraid to ask!
Can you sublimate on glass at home?
The answer is “yes”. Any person that wishes to learn how to sublimate on glass can do it. All you need is to have the equipment: a sublimation printer, paper and ink for sublimation on glass, a heat press, Teflon sheets, heat-resistant tape, and, of course, the glass material that you will work with. But before you start to sublimate on glass, you have to know the main points that can help you to understand this process better.
Glass sublimation: what does it mean?
Glass sublimation is a type of glass artwork that you can print on a glass substrate of any type. With a help of heat and pressure, you transfer images onto the glass surface. As a result, you can decorate your interior space, make an original gift or even have a good start for your side business.
However, glass sublimation is a little more complicated than any other kind of sublimation. Sublimation on glass requires some special skills, so this process is quite challenging. If you are going to start with sublimation on glass sublimation, you have to know the basics of working with glass materials.
How does it work?
The process of sublimation means transferring one substance into another without going through an intermediate liquid state. When you heat the glass to high temperatures, the molecules on the surface start breaking apart to the gaseous state. Then molecules combine with oxygen in the air and cover the glass blank with the solid coating.
When you cool your product down, you will have a full copy of the artwork on top of the glass. That’s what is called sublimation on glass: a type of art that involves using just heat and pressure. With a help of a sublimation printer and heat press you just transfer a design onto the surface of another object without painting or drawing it directly on the glass.
What do you need for sublimation on glass?
Before you start your new project, make sure that you choose the correct equipment and materials for glass sublimation. Here are the main details you need for a successful project:
It’s the main device you need for sublimation on glass. Choose a high-quality printer with dual operations, so that you can print both on the right setting and reverse.
Some of the best brands of sublimation printers are Epson, Durst, Sawgrass Virtuoso, and Mutoh.
Can you sublimate on glass with any kind of ink? Of course, no. You have to buy special dye sublimation ink. It is different from other printing inks. First of all, it is water-proof ink that does not smudge under high temperatures. Moreover, it lasts longer than any other ink.
When you put sublimation ink into the printer, remember that you should use it frequently. If the inks stay in the printer too long it will cause some printing defects. Try to use the cartridges within six months of installing them.
If you want to avoid problems with printing, you have to choose high-quality ink for sublimation. Cheap inks can give off some toxic vapors, so the process of sublimation is harmful to you.
And don’t forget that all your materials must be compatible! Check the label on your ink or ask for extra information before you order it. For example, Epson sublimation ink is one of the best and most accessible ones.
It is also called transfer paper. While you perform sublimation, this paper transfers all the colors of your image onto the glass surface.
Make sure that your sublimation ink and paper are compatible. The best idea is to choose the same brand if you want to get a perfect result.
As a helping material, a printed paper should be removed and utilized easily. But make sure that your paper isn’t too lightweight if you want to get a perfect picture. The low quality of sublimation paper makes the printing process slower and worse. As a result, your design will be rough, fuzzy, and blurred.
The best sublimation paper has to be between 110 and 120 gsm in weight.
Heat press machine
One more important thing is to choose a good heat press. Remember that glass is a fragile material, so the glass sublimation process is more complicated than any other type of sublimation. Choose a high-quality heat pressing machine that can’t break your work.
What you need next is tempered glass. A proper substrate is one of the most important parts of your work. Tempered glass is the best material for glass sublimation. It can bear a lot of heat and pressure and doesn’t break easily.
When you search for good material, keep in mind that the front and background colors on the item should match. Otherwise, these differences can provide wrong reflections on its surface.
For the most perfect results, choose tempered glass with a white opaque reflective finish.
You can choose any shape you wish, but don’t forget that you need just plain and smooth glass blanks for the printing process. Never use rough, bumpy, and porous material for sublimation printing.
Use them to protect glass blanks while sublimation printing. Some stray dyes can seep during printing and damage the glass blanks. Teflon sheets prevent the glass from accidental seepage of dyes through the heat press.
Before you print, fix the sublimation paper to the glass surface. A heat-resistant tape is the best way to do it properly.
It is also important to protect your design from any damage. At the end of the glass sublimation process, you should cover the surface with a good glass sealer.
How do you sublimate on plain glass?
Don’t you change your mind and still want to try glass sublimation? Here are just seven steps to perform sublimation on glass.
Print your image on the sublimation paper
- First of all, set up your sublimation printer. Then transfer your design to the glass sublimation paper. It should have the proper configuration, otherwise, it will be printed reverse from the back of the glass.
Put the paper on the glass blank
- Tape your printed paper to the glass plate. Use heat resistance tape to make extra coverage for your work.
Protect a heat press
- Before you set the glass plate, put a Teflon sheet into your heat press to prevent it from dye seepage.
Place the glass blank
- NB: Before you start make sure that your glass blank is clean. Wash it if necessary. Don’t use any harsh chemicals that can damage the surface. Use soft soap and warm filtered water. After washing, don’t leave any drops of soap. Rinse and dry your glass plates with a piece of a soft cloth.
- Put your glass plate on the Teflon sheet in the heat press. It is the most secure way to make a sublimation print. Remember to put your sublimation paper face down so you can see if the printing is done through the glass.
Set the second Teflon sheet
- Make sure that your glass blank is set correctly. Then cover it with the second Teflon sheet. Now your glass plate is fully protected from any damage.
Turn on the heat pressure
- Go on with the correct settings. Set up the timer and temperature in your heat press. Heat press for three and a half minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Don’t forget to control the temperature and pressure level. Set the pressure up as medium-firm. Too much heat or pressure can destroy the glass. Not enough of them can transfer your design wrongly.
Cool the glass
- Be careful when you remove the top Teflon sheet from the glass. Your sublimation setup will be too hot at the end of the whole operation. It’s a good idea to use special gloves and forceps.
- Take off the sublimation paper, you don’t need it anymore. Let the hot glass cool at room temperature. Don’t try to cool it artificially, it can damage your work.
- Congratulations! Your glass is finely decorated with a beautiful copy of your design.
NB: Last but not least, you can cover your print with a glass sealer. It helps you to prevent the finished surface from scratches, fading, and other kinds of damage. Search for high-quality glass sealers, such as Krylon UV protection coating or any other good brands.
Use a soft brush or a piece of soft cloth to place the coating over the printed surface in a thin layer. Make sure there are no tiny elements on the surface while covering it with a glass sealer.
Can you sublimate glass cups?
Yes, you definitely can sublimate on glass cups and mugs. Today it is really popular. Many people like their cups and mugs decorated with vibrant colors and cool designs. But of course, this process is too complicated for beginners.
You need more experience in glass sublimation before you start working with cups. When you get more skills in glass sublimation, you can try to create pictures on glass mugs and cups.
Use polymeric sprays which are compatible with sublimation on glass cups.
As a result, you can customize your mug to your workplace or home interior. Moreover, it can be an original gift with the most positive vibes for your friend or loved one, if you decorate a mug with their photo!
Read also: how to remove sublimation ink from shirt.
Can you sublimate on the glass mirror?
Yes, of course. As s smooth and clear material, mirror glass is one of the best substrates for sublimation. It is easy to cover it with sublimation ink and transfer your design to the mirror glass.
Can you sublimate on Mason jars?
No, you can’t. Firstly, you should only use smooth, plain, and clear glass materials for sublimation. Any other kind of glass material can’t be compatible with sublimation printing.
Secondly, keep in mind that you can’t sublimate to the finished glassware. Such glass products as jars, vases, or any other glassware are not recommended for sublimation.
You may also be interested: Can you use sublimation ink for regular printing?
Today sublimation on glass is a creative and trendy kind of art. The development of up-to-date techniques allows you to do it at home. Keep in mind that’s not quite easy, but the proper materials and a bit of experience can help you to make a good start in your hobby or even side business. What you should have are high-quality equipment and materials. What you should do is more effort and you will enhance your sublimation skills soon.
Can you sublimate on glass? Yes, but be ready to face some challenging processes. This kind of art demands you to be attentive, careful, and patient.
There are limitless possibilities to create your space with glass sublimation elements. It is possible to create beautiful and unique things that make your home more bright and cozy.
Do you want to make your workplace more positive and original? Just decorate it with your own designed photo panels or printed mugs! Besides, it’s a good possibility to make an original gift or to start earning money selling sublimated glass products.
So, glass sublimation has got a wide spectrum of creativity. What to create depends just on your choice.
Read also: What is the best shirt for sublimation?
Hi, I’m artist and sublimation printing expert. Born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, I had passion for photography and painting from my childhood. I started my career as a sublimation print operator for a local printing company in 2012. The role exposed gave me lots of practical knowledge about printing process, from managing color profiles to ensuring print quality on various materials.