How to Sublimate a Tumbler? 4 Important Steps for Beginners

A clear and detailed guide on how to sublimate a tumbler

Ordinary, monotonous cups and mugs have long ceased to be in demand among consumers. This happened in connection with the development of sublimation tumblers, as even video games or film companies create cups with characters so that people buy merch with their favorite characters.

However, have you ever wondered if you could learn how to make a sublimation tumbler yourself?

Imagine the situation, you want a cup with a family photo for a family member, but while ordering from a store, you have anxiety that the tumbler will come in the wrong size or the photo will not look good, or maybe you just wouldn’t like the quality.  

And now imagine being able to learn how to make designer cups yourself and even start a business using wholesale sublimation tumblers.

This article will help you with this, you can find a list of materials that you should have before the process, detailed instructions, answers to the most frequently asked questions related to sublimation, and the use of different techniques, depending on the material you use. How to sublimate a tumbler read below.

What is sublimation?

Let’s start with the most important question before starting to introduce the process of creating cups: What is the sublimation process? In simple words, this is a process in which, under heating, a material changes from a solid state to a “gas” state and is absorbed into another surface.

For example, the sublimation dye may be performed on clothes or even wood, but again the main component here is the heat press, which is the main cause of sublimation and changing of the state of aggregation. 

What is a sublimation tumbler?

Now, it’s just as easy to make the connection between regular sublimation and the sublimation tumbler. You, under the influence of heat, make the picture or inscription move from one material, for example, sublimation paper, to another surface, that is, a tumbler.

Sublimation designs have no limitations, the only thing is to see in advance how this or that drawing will look on your tumbler, you can do this with the help of Photoshop. This will help you see, for example, that a dark pattern on a dark tumbler would look terrible. 

Can you sublimate on regular stainless steel tumblers?

Of course, you can try to perform sublimation tumblers made of stainless steel material.

But you should understand, that you need to use, even on skinny tumbler, either polyester coating or shrink wrap. 

So otherwise, you can either mess up the sublimation tumbler itself or get a messed-up translated design.

Can you sublimate tumblers in a regular oven?

In some sublimation tutorials, you may come across information that it is quite normal to use regular ovens for sublimation tumblers, but is this true?

And in fact, this is true, you just have to follow all the instructions for using the convection oven correctly.

Also, this method is suitable for those people who are much better used to using it as a convection oven, or regular oven, as it is quite simple.

Can you sublimate tumblers with a heat press?

Many people have a question, how possible is it possible to sublimate tumblers using a heat press, since before that, it seemed that the heat press was only suitable for flat things, and the mug press would just ruin the tumbler?

Use a Cricut mug press or ordinary mug press with heat and try to put a top lip inside the tumbler. Then all you should do is close the mugs and wait for the minute. 

A very important thing is to be very cautious with sublimation tumbler instruction, especially with heat presses, not only because you can destroy sublimated tumbler, but even to make sure that the procedure is fully safe for you and your physical condition. A few secrets about how best to sublimate a 20 oz skinny tumbler in a mug press can be read here.

Instruction on how to sublimate a tumbler

Now, we can begin to look at the guidance of sublimation tumblers, by using a different method, for instance, a convection oven. 

Below, you can see useful tips and additional sublimation tutorials, based on the equipment you want to use: 

Sublimation tumblers design

Before creating a sublimation mug, you should have a design ready for your tumbler. Find a photo, or an inscription or make, or draw your picture in Photoshop, and prepare a design for sublimation printing.

It really can be anything, as we said before, the main thing is that you make sure that the designs are fully consistent with the color, size, and shape of the sublimation tumblers; otherwise, you may have unexpected consequences, such as the fact the inscription will merge with the color of the picture or the picture will not fit on the cup.

After you create a design, save it to your computer, if you want to create several designer cups with different pictures, then you can even create a separate folder.

Printed sublimation sheet with sublimation ink

Now, you need to make printed sublimation paper for the sublimation tumbler.  

Again, you should use a sublimation sheet or an infusible ink transfer sheet, which are pre-printed sheets for sublimation and will be suitable for people who don’t have printing for sublimation.

Your sublimation or inkjet printer should be connected to your computer and all you have to do is click on the print button. Also, it is important to note that it is better to save the design in the form of a file and not just a picture.

After you have received your finished prints, check the quality of them, it is best to print one copy first, to immediately notice the flaws, without wasting sublimation paper.

Prepare materials for sublimation

Check for sublimation ink, especially in color, if you don’t want to create a black-and-white design or a blank sublimation tumbler.

Moreover, prepare the skinny tumbler or cups yourself, and make sure that there are no unnecessary things on them, such as dirt or stickers.

Take out the heat-resistant gloves in advance if you have them. Use a Cricut to cut your design straight. Then, using heat-resistant tape, wrap the tumbler into the printed sublimation tumbler designs. After that, make sure that there is no space between the sublimation print and the tumbler.  

Now, attach the pieces of heat tape to the edges of the tumbler. Also, make sure there are no air pockets with the scraper.

You will also need to have the neck or opening of the tumbler completely covered with tape, best done by moving the pieces of tape east to west and north to east. Finally, it’s best to wrap the tumbler in butcher paper for full protection.

Tumbler heat press

Put on heat-resistant gloves and turn on the heat tumbler press. Set the temperature to 350 Fahrenheit and set the timer for 50 seconds, most often both the timer and the temperature can be set on the machine itself.

So, you can use a heat gun instead of a heat press, but we cannot say for sure that this method will work perfectly and that the result will be as good.

After 50 seconds of the tumbler has passed, you will understand why it was necessary to wear gloves, as the tumbler will be unusually hot. Rotate it 180 degrees and time again for 50 seconds, this is necessary for the cup or tumbler to be completely covered with the design.

Indeed, using the Cricut mug press will be much more convenient than the same heat machine, as the Cricut mug press will be adjusted to the rounded shape of your mug.

After another 50 seconds, take out your designer mug and place it on a heat-resistant surface. A clear and detailed guide on how to sublimate on dark colors is here.

Convection oven method

So, we will tell you about ways to sublimate a tumbler with a convection oven instead of a press.

First, you need to secure the surface of the oven, for example, you can put a heat-resistant felt pad inside. Below, you can see two different ways to create a designer mug: shrink wrap and silicone bands.

Shrink wrap sleeve

First, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. After that, wrap your tumbler in shrink wrap, and trim if it protrudes too far from the edges of the tumbler.

Now, take the heat gun and distribute the heat evenly over the entire surface of the shrink wrap to remove any unevenness. Then place the tumbler in the oven for 6 minutes.

Silicone bands

In this method, you also need to preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Take the silicone bands and wrap them around your tumbler.

However, before doing this, make sure to wrap the sublimation tumbler in butcher paper so as not to damage the bands themselves with ink. Put the tumbler back in the oven for 6 minutes.

Check the result

In the two cases of making sublimation tumblers, you need to wear protective gloves and wait for the tumbler to cool down before checking the result.

Are regular prints useful for sublimation tumblers?

To make sublimation tumblers, you can only use sublimation printers.

Sublimation printer has special ink, which will be possible for transferring on another surface under heat, furthermore, the material of sublimation prints or papers were made especially for transferring. You can try to use regular prints, but you will not receive any good results, and may even cause damage to the heat machine or tumbler itself. 

Also read: Detailed and clear instructions on how to sublimate on wood


To sum up, sublimation projects are a great opportunity to demonstrate, for example, your skills in computer drawing, or simply have a thing in the house that will not only be functional but also have some semantic importance, for example, a photograph of a family.

Creating sublimation tumblers is not a difficult task if you follow the instructions correctly and treat the process responsibly, on the contrary, it can become an interesting hobby for you or even a way to earn money.

We hope that after reading this article, questions like: “how to sublimate a tumbler?” will no longer be unresolved for you, and what’s more, you can even help other creators with instructions to make sublimation tumblers.

What is needed to make sublimation tumblers?

After we have figured out the basic information about the sublimation process, it will be quite logical to get acquainted with the main components to make sublimation tumblers.

Below you can find a list of materials needed for sublimation, we recommend using all the lists, as then you will have complete confidence in a good result.

how to sublimate a tumblerEquipment for sublimation tumbler 

1. Sublimation printer or inkjet printer 
2. Sublimation paper
4. Blank tumblers
3. Heat-resistant tape
4. Heat-resistant gloves
5. Convection Oven
6. Shrink wrap
7. Butcher paper
8. Cricut






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