Making Sublimation Mugs

By admin news
By Steve Spence I just finished making 2 dozen mugs. I haven’t made any mugs for a while now and it was refreshing to see how well each mug turned out. Color was great, backgrounds were clean and except for the one I printed upside down, each one came out perfectly. (Oops, I’m bad)   I like using the mug wraps in an oven I purchased just for this purpose and I made the mugs using only two wraps. I have sense ordered two more. My oven will hold about six mugs easily and still leave lots and lots of space between them for heat to circulate.   As I made my own mugs, I thought I might go through the steps of making them both to refresh your memory and my own as well.   I used the specially cut paper from Conde 3.75”x9” for the first time. I have always printed them two-up before on letter size paper and the Conde people are right, it really is nice having a paper already cut to the RIGHT size. My Ricoh 7100 handled the smaller paper like a breeze and it took only a few minutes to print all my transfers.   I put an image on each side of the mug and found that if I center my design 1 ¾” from each edge of the 9” sheet, it placed the center of the design right where I wanted it.   After taping the transfer sheet to the mug (always use a small length of tape on each end of the transfer sheet and turn it so it runs vertically with the cup to insure it doesn’t leave a noticeable indention over the image. NEVER place tape over an image when sublimating!   I then cut a cover sheet from cheap copy paper that was 4x9.75”. This goes over top of the transfer to insure no stray ink (dye) makes its way through the transfer and onto the mug wrap. This is very important.   Once this was done, I place the mug wrap around the cup and tightened it until it was very tight using a nut driver. If you over tighten, the cup might crack but you want it tight enough that it presses the transfer tight against the cup top to bottom and all the way around. Any air gap and it will ruin the job.   The oven was set and tested to be very close to 400° F. With an oven light mine, it is nearly impossible to get it exactly on temp but if mine is 388-400°, I’m happy. I bought an inexpensive external thermometer from Amazon ($25) that has a probe inside the oven and both a timer and a digital thermometer that sits outside the oven.   After 15-20 minutes ( add time for extra mugs, see instructions for your mugs) in the oven, I take the mugs out using heat gloves and set them on a cookie sheet to cool for about 10 minutes. After that, they are cool enough I can disassemble the mug wraps using heat gloves and not have to worry about the transfer smearing (ghosting) when I remove the transfer. Heat gloves are also available from Amazon for about $20 a pair (of course you can pay a lot more).   After removing the wrap, I allow the mug to continue to cool until at room temperature. While they are cooling, I prepared the next batch for the oven and repeated the process. It took all day to make the 24 mugs but, of course, while the cups were cooking, I was doing other things so I didn’t care. I even worked in lunch with a friend! Having four or even six wraps would really speed things up but as I said, I don’t do a lot of mugs although I don’t know why not. All of a sudden, I have been getting orders for them.   Just as a matter of information, I retail my mugs for $19.95 for single units and $15.95 for multiple units at retail. Wholesale starts at $12.00 with a min of six and $10 for 12 or more. Since the mugs cost me about $2 each by the time I ship them; that gives a 500% margin or more. The process of putting on the wraps and transfers and removing them takes me about 2 ½ minutes per mug. The only waste I had was the cup I printed upside down.