What Is a Sublimation Blank and How Does It Work?

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The sublimation printing world is vast and full of wonders. However, it can be hard to navigate, especially for beginners. From strange terminology to complicated equipment, a person can easily get lost. But have no fear, that’s why we’re here.

We’ll tell you the basics of sublimation and explain what in the world sublimation blanks are. So, keep on reading and discover all you’ve been missing.

The Short Answer

Briefly, sublimation blanks are the substrates on which you can transfer a printed image or design using the sublimation printing technique. These sublimation blanks can react with the sublimation ink in a specific way to result in a long-lasting image.

What’s the Meaning of Sublimation?

Before we tell you what sublimation blanks are, you first have to learn what sublimation is.

Quite simply, sublimation is a scientific term that denotes the change of a matter from its solid state to its gaseous state without having to go through the liquid form. So, what does this little chemistry lesson have to do with anything?

Well, you can use sublimation to customize merchandise or your personal belongings in a process known as “Dye Sublimation.” Basically, you use a sublimation printer to print an image with special sublimation ink on appropriate sublimation paper. Then, once the ink dries, you can transfer this image onto a substrate of your choice using heat.

So, printing-wise, what makes sublimation so special and sought after?

In short, with sublimation, the ink is incorporated into your substrate, which results in a durable and long-lasting image. With other printing techniques, the image lays on top of the substrate, which means it can be scratched, peeled, or worn away with time. Accordingly, sublimation is now the printing technique of choice.

Sublimation Blanks: Explained

So, now that you know what sublimation is, you’ll now be able to quickly grasp what sublimation blanks are.

In a nutshell, sublimation blanks are the substrates on which you transfer an image using sublimation.

Honestly, you can pretty much use sublimation on any substrate you want, provided it’s made of a polymer or coated in a polymer substrate. If the substrate doesn’t fulfill this requirement, then it can’t be called a sublimation blank. That’s because the printed image won’t be incorporated into it, and it’ll disappear in the blink of an eye.

Now, sublimation blanks can have many shapes and forms. That being so, you can’t transfer an image onto all of them using the same method.

To illustrate, say you want to sublimate an image onto a T-shirt. The heat press used to transfer that image will significantly differ from that used on a mug or tumbler.

Accordingly, many businesses have made it their job to have all the equipment necessary to work with most, if not all, sublimation blanks. So, if you don’t have the correct equipment for your sublimation blank, you can always send it to a business that specializes in such matters.

Examples of Sublimation Blanks


The most well-known example of a sublimation blank is T-shirts. But not just any run-of-the-mill T-shirt.

They have to contain polyester, which is a type of polymer,  or else they won’t make a good sublimation blank. A pure polyester T-shirt is the best; however, blends having 75% polyester or more are also great. Anything less than 75%, and your image will probably wash out with a couple of rinses.


Another widely popular sublimation blank is drinkware, be they mugs, tumblers, sports bottles, or beer glasses. Again, you can’t pick any random mug and use it as a sublimation blank. It has to have a polymer coat into which the sublimation ink can be integrated.

As long as this coat is present, steel, ceramic, glass, and even wooden drinkware are a viable choice. Nevertheless, if you’re not able to find proper sublimation blanks, you can always use plastic drinkware, provided they can withstand the high temperatures.


So, are T-shirts and drinkware the only options for sublimation blanks? Absolutely not. Other sublimation blanks include:

  • Key chains
  • Mousepads
  • Puzzles 
  • Photo panels
  • Photo tiles
  • Baseball caps
  • Hats
  • Award plaques
  • Pet bowls
  • Can coolers
  • Luggage tags
  • Earrings
  • Coasters
  • Ppp socks
  • Cutting boards
  • Oven mitts
  • Totes
  • And neckties, to name a few.

How Do Sublimation Blanks Affect the Sublimation Process?

Typically, T-shirts and other flat-ish sublimation blanks like key chains, puzzles, and mouse pads are pressed in a regular flat heat press. Thicker or curvier blanks like award plaques or baseball caps require more specialized heat presses or a curved cap attachment.

Additionally, ovens and sublimation wraps can also be used to a similar effect, and they’re primarily used to finish multiple blanks at a time.

Except for the type of heat press, sublimation blanks basically undergo the same process from start to finish. So, just keep this in mind when choosing your substrate.


Are Sublimation Blanks Ever-Lasting?

Nothing can last forever; however, sublimation blanks will last for a long time before you notice any sign of wear and tear. Typically, you have to damage the actual substrate before you see a defect. Essentially, the more carefully you treat the sublimation bank, the longer the image will last.

Does the Color of Sublimation Blanks Matter?

Yup. Since sublimation ink is kind of sheer, the sublimation blank’s color can show through the ink, changing the final color. So, try to choose white or transparent blanks if you’re working with pale colors. However, if that’s not an option, then you’ll be better off with darker-colored ink.

See also:

Final Words

Thankfully, there are various blanks that you can use in your sublimation adventure, from hats and mugs to cutting boards and oven mitts. All you have to do is make sure they’re suitable for sublimation, and you’ll have yourself a one-of-a-kind product at the end of the day. So, make your choice wisely, and we hope you have a great time sublimating.

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