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Best Sublimation Blanks: What Works and What Doesn’t

A sublimation blank is simply an item you can customize with sublimation printing. But how do they differ from normal items?

Well, let’s say that you want to print on a t-shirt. A regular 100% cotton won’t work with heat transfer; it must have a poly-coating for the heat transfer process to succeed. Also, these blanks usually have a solid color for your sublimation design to show clearly.

Alright, let’s explore some of the best sublimation blanks that you can try out!

1. Mugs and Tumblers

There are multiple ways to print on the curved surfaces of mugs and tumblers, and the good news is that none of them require more than a few minutes.

You can use a Cricut Mug Press, a heat press with a mug attachment, or a standalone mug press as your heat source. Alternatively, you can use a mug shrink film with a heat gun.

As for tapered mugs or tumblers, a silicone mug wrap and a convection oven would get the job done.

The recommended heating time for mugs and tumblers is between 200-300 seconds at a temperature of 400° F.

2. License Plates

License plate sublimation blanks are usually made of aluminum, and you must remove the plastic coating on them before using the heat press to print your design. Additionally, make sure that the surface is free of dust and dirt.

The heating time varies from one manufacturer to another, but if it’s not specified, we recommend heating at 374° F for a maximum of 60 seconds.

3. Wall Clocks

Ever wanted to print a special design on your wall clock? It’s actually possible! A glass wall-clock sublimation blank requires a shrink wrap and oven heating for the best results.

Of course, the heating time differs according to the manufacturer, but it’s usually around 3-4 minutes at 400° F.

If the clock is made of hardwood, remove the plastic coating and apply transfer paper on top of it.

4. Coasters

For ceramic coaster blanks, you need to set your heat press settings to “Ceramic Tile” and heat it upside down at 400° F for 240-300 seconds.

On the other hand, Cricut square coasters require “Metal” settings in your heat-press and heating at the same temperature for 30 seconds but make sure that you don’t heat them for too long to prevent the paper from sticking to the coaster.

5. Key Chains

Most keychain sublimation blanks are made of white plastic (Fiber-Reinforced Plastic). They don’t have a protective coating, so make sure that the printable side is free of dust and debris before starting the print process.

Place it down on the printed transfer and use a piece of heat-resistant tape to secure it in position. Then, put the secured blank under the heat press and use Teflon on the base for protection.

6. Name or Pet Tags

Printing on name or pet tag sublimation blanks can be loads of fun! For Unisub aluminum blanks, make sure that you remove the plastic coating before starting the heat transfer process. The tag must also be facing upwards with the transfer paper on top of it.

On the other hand, if the blank is made of textured hardwood, follow the same instructions, then let the tag cool down for 10 minutes before peeling.

7. Ceramic Ornaments

Just like ceramic coasters, ceramic ornaments can be printed. Just make sure to adjust your heat-press settings to “Ceramic Tile,” properly secure the ornament blank to the heat press plate, then heat the blank in an upside-down position.

8. Pop Sockets

Pop sockets have a white square side for sublimating and an adhesive back to adhere to your phone. When you transfer the design to the blank side, make sure that you remove the adhesive liner. Then, attach it to the socket, and you’ll be good to go!

9. Apparel

To print on apparel or soft materials in general, you have two options: buy items specifically designed for sublimation printing or print on non-sublimation pieces with at least 50% of polyester content. It’d also be a good idea to use bright colored or white t-shirts for sublimation to get a vivid print.

However, if you want to print on 100% cotton clothes, you’ll need to use a special spray or coating that covers the external part to get a good-quality print.

It’s also recommended that you pre-press the shirt for 3-5 seconds to get rid of moisture, then put butcher paper inside and on the backside of the shirt to prevent the dye from bleeding through.

10. Phone Cases

Sublimation printing on phone cases is somewhat different from other sublimation blanks.

To put a design on a phone case sublimation blank, you need to print it on a metal (preferably aluminum) sheet first, then carefully stick it to the back of the phone case for 60 seconds to transfer the design.

As always, make sure that you remove the plastic coating on the aluminum sheet before pressing. Phone cases should be sublimated at 400° F for 45 seconds.

11. Mouse Pads

Printing on mousepads is pretty easy and quick, as long as they’re made of polyester. To print on a mouse pad sublimation blank, pre-press the pad for a few seconds and use a lint roller to clean the surface, then heat press your design at 400° F for 60-90 seconds.

12. Backpacks

The best thing about backpack sublimation blanks is that they’re usually made of 100% polyester, making them a good candidate for sublimation printing.

To print on your backpack, place the blank flap on the heat press plate after putting a piece of protective paper. Then, lint roll it to get rid of fiber remains, and apply another piece of protective paper to preheat for 15-20 seconds at 400° F.

Apply the printed transfer paper after lint rolling one more time, and add a piece of Teflon and protective paper to cover the whole setup. After that, secure the white flap properly with heat-resistant tape and heat-press at 400° F for 75 seconds.

Final Words

That was a quick walkthrough of some of the best sublimation blanks for your next printing project. As you can tell, the choices of sublimation blanks are endless.

You can create a wide variety of customized products for yourself or your customers if you’re doing sublimation printing as a side hustle.

Just make sure that you follow the preferred instructions for every type of sublimation blank to get the best results. It may require some practice at first, but once you print a few items, you’ll surely get the hang of it.

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