Top Ways to Perform Sublimation On Acrylic

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One of the biggest advantages of sublimation printing is having the ability to print on a wide range of materials and products. However, each material requires some specific preparations to ensure that you obtain the best possible results.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the best ways to sublimate on acrylic. So, let’s get started right away!

Things You Need for Acrylic Sublimation

Here’s a list of required tools to perform sublimation on acrylic:

Sublimation Printer

A sublimation printer allows you to print your design for use in sublimation projects. Some machines are exclusively designed for sublimation printing, but many people get a suitable inkjet printer and modify it for sublimation.

Sublimation Ink

There’s a special ink, called sublimation ink, that you can use in sublimation projects. Sublimation printers come preloaded with sublimation ink, but if you’re using an inkjet printer, you must buy the ink separately. Just make sure that you don’t load the ink tank with regular ink since it’ll be impossible to clean later.

Sublimation Paper

Sublimation paper is the only type of paper that will give you desirable results with sublimation ink. It basically takes the ink and transfers it onto the acrylic surface.

Acrylic Blanks

Acrylic blanks are very cheap, and you can get them at discounted prices in bulk quantities. 

Heat Press Machine

The heat press machine is what you’ll use to transfer the sublimation design permanently onto the acrylic surface with the application of pressure and heat for a preset period.

Other Tools

Along with the above primary tools, you’ll need heat tape, butcher paper, a water sponge, a pair of scissors, design software, and protective heat-resistant gloves.

How to Sublimate on Acrylic

To sublimate on Acrylic, follow these steps:

1. Adjust the size of the paper. Depending on the size of the acrylic surface, you need to modify the print image size to match it using your preferred sublimation software. Just make sure that the paper print is slightly larger than the acrylic surface to prevent indentations.

2. Get rid of the acrylic surface’s protective sheet. This layer may cause your print to wrinkle or soften, so it must be removed to get a smooth print.

3. Customize the acrylic surface. You can use transparent acrylic, vinyl-backed transparent acrylic, or white acrylic. Keep in mind that the vinyl cut must be close to the acrylic size. Optionally, you can use repositionable adhesive spray or add glitter.

4. Attach the image facing the acrylic to the print paper and the acrylic, then apply heat tape for fixation.

5. Cover the whole setup with butcher paper and add it to the place of your heat press. It’s also recommended that you add butcher paper on the sides. Adjust the temperature until you’re within the 380-400 Fahrenheit range and apply moderate pressure for 50-60 seconds.

6. Remove the item from the heat press plate. Handle it carefully since it’ll be extremely hot. Letting it cool down a bit is recommended, especially if you don’t use gloves.

7. After the item has cooled down, remove the paper and heat tape. If the tape sticks to the acrylic, you can easily get rid of the paper residue by using a water sponge. A magic eraser would do the trick, too.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Difference Between Cast Acrylic and Extruded Acrylic?

Cast acrylic has a variable thickness as opposed to extruded acrylic, which is considered uniform. The reason behind that is the method of manufacturing. Cast acrylic is made by placing liquid acrylic in a mold and drying it. On the other hand, extruded acrylic is made using an extruder. 

What Are the Best Settings to Sublimate on Acrylic?

As a general rule of thumb, sublimating on acrylic requires anywhere from 365 to 400 Fahrenheit. The pressure should be light or medium.

Is Acrylic Considered a Polyester-Based Plastic?

Yes, acrylic is a polyester-based plastic, making it a good option for sublimation projects. It’s also cheaper than many other plastics.

Which Is Better: Acrylic or Glass?

Well, it depends on what product you intend to create. Glass looks better, and it’s capable of resisting scratches to a great extent. However, it’s very brittle and a bit expensive, especially if you opt for premium glass.

Acrylic, on the other hand, is just a type of plastic that’s a bit reflective. Acrylic can withstand more impact than glass, but it’s not as premium-looking. It’s much cheaper than glass, though.

Final Words

So that was how to sublimate on acrylic surfaces. The process is pretty straightforward and isn’t that different from sublimation on other materials.

Just make sure that you prepare all the required tools and follow the instructions carefully for the best possible results. Of course, the sublimation parameters are important, too.

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