It doesn’t matter if you want to open your own small business or just want to make a unique gift for your beloved ones. Here you will find out how to do sublimation with Cricut, what is sublimation ink, sublimation printer, and sublimation paper, and how it differs from regular ink, printer, or paper.
Sublimation printing? What is that?
Sublimation printing is a widely used printing technique that employs a process to transform sublimation ink into a vapor that infuses into the application surface to produce vivid, high-quality pictures.
Is Cricut infusible ink the same as sublimation?
Even before Cricut released its Infusible Ink Transfer Sheets and markers, interest in sublimation was growing among crafters.
However, this interest has increased dramatically after the release of the Mug Press, Cricut EasyPress, and Hat Press.
Can you do sublimation with Cricut?
Nowadays, it’s quite easy to perform sublimation printing at home, even though this technique may be fairly complicated and requires special equipment!
The Cricut cutting machine Silhouette Cameo 3 is a most well-known device, and its brand name is just like the name Xerox for copy machines.
Do I need a Cricut if I have a sublimation printer?
As you’ll find out lower, no doubt, you can create sublimation prints using not only a sublimation printer but utilizing something different, for instance, Cricut infusible ink pens.
But the Cricut machine will make many of the steps in this process much simpler.
Here, we will explain the fundamentals of sublimation printing: how it works, what actions you should do, and provide answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding the Cricut machine.
Sublimation crafting: the fundamentals
Is sublimation printing the same as dying?
No, these are two different processes: instead of having a vinyl or fuzzy pattern fused on top of the fabric, sublimation utilizing a Cricut machine and Infusible Ink makes graphics that become a part of the fabric you transfer them to.
T-shirts, hoodies, mugs, and pretty much anything else you can think of, may be personalized such that the image printed into the fabric will look like it was manufactured in a large factory.
In heat transfer vinyl (HTV) also used for crafts, the steps are quite similar: we take our design and align it on some surface, press with heating, then remove the paper and that’s it.
But while in the HTV process only the outer surface of the fabric is covered with ink, sublimation utilizing a Cricut machine fuses the ink right inside the surface material, so that it becomes a part of it.
Although, not every surface is capable to accept and hold the ink.
Once printed with a sublimation printer, the colors on the item stay fresh and vivid for a very long time.
The clothes with such prints will easily stand in a laundry, and the utensils with prints will stand in a dishwasher and microwave.
What do you need to do Cricut sublimation?
There are a few items you’ll need to use your Cricut machine for sublimation, but they differ depending on the technique you pick.
– you can utilize a conventional printer instead. Lower, we will describe how to do it in a right way
sublimation Ink and sublimation paper
– you will need them to make sublimation transfers with your printer
– is a finished, ready-to-press draft. Almost all you may want to create can be completed quickly and easily with Cricut Infusible Ink sheets
– as a rule, it’s in .png or .jpeg format. However, it can be any high-quality picture.
– the surface with the special coating on which the paint will be transferred (for example)
a heat press
– Cricut Mug Press or Cricut Easy Press 2
a lint roller
– it is strongly recommended to prepare the surface meticulously, and remove debris where possible
Cricut Infusible Ink Markers and Pens
– you may add some diversity to your designs and your work will have a hand-drawn appearance
Sublimation transfers with Cricut infusible ink sheets
Cricut Infusible Ink sheets are one of the most fascinating items to experiment with since the designs you produce are infused into the surface you place them on, providing you with the most professional look achievable.
This is just the most simple way to create cool steady prints without any sublimation printers.
First and foremost, you need a special heat press, like Cricut Mug Press or Cricut Easy Press, it isn’t that expensive to purchase and can be useful both with or without other devices.
Don’t try to use a home iron – it may be appropriate for heat transfer vinyl, but it isn’t hot enough for sublimation blanks.
The quality of the finished print quality and brightness strongly depends on the surface it is sublimated onto.
The best printing quality will be obtained on special, designed for this workpiece, called sublimation blanks.
These are items either covered with some special coating or just manufactured from special material, that absorbs perfectly infusible ink.
You can purchase an endless variety of different sublimation blanks in any internet store: mugs, tumblers, blankets, earrings, etc.
You don’t necessarily need to use only specialty T-shirts or other clothes: it can be almost any fabric with at least 40% polyester content.
Although some people prefer to employ a sublimation printer to produce fully customized projects, the Infusible Ink solutions are ideal for most tasks and simple to use.
You just take the pre-printed Cricut transfer sheet, apply it to the surface you want to transfer (of course, it must be an appropriate surface) the print to, and squeeze it with a heat press. That’s it!
Working with a sublimation printer
Cricut infusible ink sheets are an extremely easy-to-use product, but in case you want something more customized, than utilizing the pre-printed transfers, you should consider purchasing a sublimation printer.
A specialized printer is an important requirement for sublimation. This is because sublimation employs specialized ink.
The ink is subjected to a chemical reaction at high temperatures, which binds the ink with the material of the surface. The pigment that comes with an inkjet printer will not work.
But it doesn’t mean that you must only buy the printer originally designed for sublimation printing, like Sawgrass, for instance.
No, you can purchase a conventional inject printer (for example, Epson EcoTank 2760) that is twice as cheap as a specialized one, and just make it a sublimation printer.
First of all, don’t utilize it with regular ink, as it will remain on its print heads and will spoil the result. Or if you already have the Epson printer and was used it for everyday printing with regular ink before, the cleaning of its print heads and ink tanks is strongly recommended.
The same procedures should be run if you switch a printer from sublimation to regular ink.
Adding sublimation ink to the printer ink tank
According to the model of a printer, you will either use syringes to add pigment to the tanks (or sublimation ink cartridges), or you can purchase inks that come in special containers that are compatible with this type of tank.
The second thing to worry about is the ICC profile or color profile of the ink. It must closely match the color profile of your printer, so check the manufacturer’s instructions for more detailed information.
Otherwise, the computer software will misinterpret the color matching, and the red elements of the final print may become blue, green – yellow and so on.
Sublimation paper: creating your own sublimation transfer sheets
As you shouldn’t use regular inks in the printer, you will sublimate on, the same is with paper. Only specialty sublimation paper should be used to load inside your sublimation printer. Such paper is coated with a material, that steadily holds sublimation ink.
The coating covers only one side of the list, and it turns out to be very convenient when the uncovered side is watermarked. Hiipoo sublimation paper is the most well-known brand name, and we can recommend it with confidence.
How to use a sublimation paper?
Sublimation paper is treated just like regular paper, except for mentioning the correct side. The rest of the actions are quite the same: you send an image from your computer to a printer and click the ‘print’ button. But where can I find images, and should I edit them somehow?
Mirroring an image
Images of any format are appropriate for sublimation, but of course, the images with higher resolution fit better. Thus, .png are more preferable to .jpeg, etc.
Sublimation projects may be found in Design Bundles, Etsy, or elsewhere. Just type something like ‘sublimation designs’ in the search and choose the one you would be fond of.
Now that you’ve chosen your design, we’re ready to print. You are not required to utilize Cricut Design Space, although you may do so if you choose.
The drawback of printing with Cricut is that the black lines surrounding your design will be printed.
And the last step before printing a picture: you should reverse it to look like a mirror image. Otherwise, the finished sublimation projects will be reversed in that way.
Make final printer settings
Select Photo on Matte Paper as your print quality. Check the scale size as well; many times, the scale will be less than one hundred percent. This is mainly dependent on the artist who designed the image.
However, in most situations, the designer has already created the picture in the appropriate size you want.
Preparing the surface for transfer
As a rule, sublimation blanks that you purchased in the store don’t need any additional preparations, except for clothes: almost all the items, made of fabric should be cleaned with a lint roller or just manually.
Fabrics must be pre-heated to eliminate excess moisture. When your heat press is ready, pre-heat your textiles for several seconds and then wait a bit to cool them back. Then use a lint roller to remove all the debris and particles stuck on the surface.
Wipe off hard surfaces such as pottery, steel, and various kinds of wood with ethanol or some solvent to remove stains and fats.
To finish the sublimation transfer, squeeze it with a heat press. As we mentioned earlier, a home iron isn’t suitable for this procedure; thus you should use some specialized heat press like Cricut Mug Press or Cricut Easy Press.
The lower the temperature you use, the longer you must squeeze to achieve bright colors. Typically, it takes about 120-130 seconds.
Use low temperature only on goods that you are worried would burn at higher temperatures, such as polyester blends, or as directed by the manufacturer, but not lower than 350 degrees.
For most materials, the typical duration and temperature for sublimation are 400 degrees for 50–60 seconds. The optimum temperature for pottery is about 360 degrees pressed for one minute.
Can you do sublimation with a Cricut?
While you can use a Cricut to create designs that can be used in sublimation printing, you cannot actually perform sublimation with a Cricut machine. To perform sublimation, you would need to use a sublimation printer, sublimation inks, and a heat press or other device capable of applying heat and pressure to transfer the sublimation ink onto the substrate.
How do you do sublimation transfers on Cricut?
While you cannot do sublimation transfers directly on a Cricut machine, you can use a Cricut machine to create designs and then transfer them to your substrate using a sublimation process
Is Cricut infusible ink the same as sublimation?
Cricut Infusible Ink and sublimation are similar in that they both use heat and pressure to transfer designs onto a substrate, but they are not exactly the same.
Sublimation printing is a commonly known printing technique used for producing vivid pictures using an innovative technique that converts the ink into vapor and injects it into the substrate surface.
Perhaps, the most well-known company providing equipment for sublimation is Cricut, but you try different brand names weighing all the pros and cons, depending on your plans and goals.
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.