Sublimating on skinny tumblers isn’t as hard as it sounds. Better yet, when you get it right, you’ll end up with very stylish cups for entertaining guests! In this article, you’ll learn how to sublimate on skinny tumblers. In addition, you’ll know whether or not a convection oven is a must or if your trusty heat press will do, so stick around to find out!
In a nutshell, to sublimate on skinny tumblers:
- Prepare and print out your design on a sublimation sheet.
- Trim off any excess white space from the sheet and place it on a flat surface design-side up.
- Place the tumbler in the middle of the printed sheet.
- Wrap one side of the sheet around the tumbler, then bring the other side around to meet it.
- Bind the two sides together with heat-resistant tape.
- Place the wrapped tumbler in shrink wrap and tighten it using a heat gun.
- Place the tumbler in a convection oven heated to 360 degrees Fahrenheit for six minutes.
Skinny Tumbler Sublimation Considerations
Before you grab any old tumbler, you should know that only compatible tumbler blanks will do for sublimation projects. That’s because they contain a purpose-made poly-coating, which interacts with the sublimation dye when you apply heat to the tumbler.
Moreover, sublimation tumblers can either be straight or tapered, so the way you prepare your design for printing will differ, depending on the type of tumbler you’ll be sublimating on. Naturally, the straight tumblers offer a lower entry bar for beginners, so we’ll be working with those in this article.
Tools and Supplies You’ll Need
Below is a list of tools you’ll need to sublimate on skinny tumblers.
- Sublimation Printer
- Sublimation Paper
- Skinny Tumbler (16oz or 20oz)
- Convection Oven
- Heat Resistant Tape
- Protective Gloves
- Heat Gun
- Shrink Wrap Sleeves
Sublimating on Skinny Tumblers – Step by Step
To sublimate on a skinny tumbler, follow the steps below:
Step One – Prepare and Print the Design
Open the image in the editing software of your choice (Silhouette Studio, Photoshop, etc.). You can also get loads of free skinny tumbler templates from the internet (this is essential if you’re using tapered tumblers).
Then, you should set your document profile to “Letter” with an orientation of “Portrait”, reflective of an 8.5 x 11-inch sheet of sublimation paper (for 20 oz tumblers).
Once done with the adjustments, load a sheet of sublimation paper into your printer and print the design, ensuring that you’re printing at the highest quality possible. When printed out, the design will look dull on the sublimation sheet, but that’s normal. It’ll be clearer once heat-pressed onto the tumbler. Finally, trim off any excess white space around the design.
Step Two – Wrap and Tape the Skinny Tumbler
Wipe down the tumbler to get rid of any lint or dirt, then lay the sublimation sheet with your design on a flat surface and place the tumbler in the middle of it. The image should be facing the tumbler (the blank side of the sheet should be on the surface).
Next, wrap one side of the sublimation sheet around the tumbler. Holding the sublimation paper in place at that point, join the other side to it, surrounding the tumbler. One side of the sheet should overlap the other slightly when you bring the two together.
Using heat tape, bind the two sides together. Also, wrap some heat tape around the circumference of the tumbler at the top and bottom.
Finally, place the wrapped tumbler into the shrink wrap and use the heat gun to tighten the shrink wrap against it.
Step Three – Sublimate the Tumbler in the Convection Oven
Preheat the convection oven to 360 degrees Fahrenheit with the timer set to six minutes and place the tumbler inside. Once the oven alarm goes off, take out the tumbler using the heat glove and put it in cool water. Remove the shrink wrap once the tumbler has cooled off. Your sublimated tumbler design is ready.
Can I Use the Convection Oven I Have at Home to Sublimate Skinny Tumblers?
You can, with one caveat: you won’t be able to cook in it anymore. That’s because the sublimation process turns ink into a gas that’s harmful when ingested. This gas lingers in the convection oven, meaning you could potentially get it in your food if you cook with the oven after using it to sublimate tumblers.
Is It Possible to Sublimate Skinny Tumblers Without a Convection Oven?
Absolutely! If you don’t have a convection oven, you can sublimate skinny tumblers using a heat and cup press combo. The steps for preparing your tumbler for heat press sublimation are identical to what you’d do if you were using a convection oven, with a couple of exceptions:
- You wrap your tumbler in parchment paper as opposed to shrinkwrap (to protect your cup press)
- You make the halfway mark in the center of the cup after wrapping it with paper
- You can do away with the heat gun (since you won’t be needing it for the shrink wrap)
You’re going to have to sublimate one side of the cup at a time, so you make the halfway mark to use as a guide. In addition, you’ll need to adjust the width of your cup press so that the tumbler fits. Finally, make sure you press each side of the tumbler at the same temperature for the same amount of time (390 degrees Fahrenheit for 55 seconds).
Now, you probably know the basics of how to sublimate on skinny tumblers. With readily downloadable templates and a few supplies here and there, you can get started on this fun DIY project.
However, keep in mind that you don’t necessarily need a convection oven to sublimate on tumblers as a heat press and cup press combo is also capable of getting the job done. Happy sublimating!