Can You Sublimate on Powder Coated Tumblers? Yes, But How?

Sublimation on stainless steel is pretty common. To bring out a unique vibe you can customize the tumbler before the sublimation. For example, you can powder-coat them.

But can you sublimate on powder-coated tumblers?

Yes, you can sublimate on powder-coated tumblers. But the powder coating has to be polyester based. Epoxy or vinyl-based powder-coated tumblers can’t be sublimated. Because they don’t adhere to the sublimation ink. The sublimation can be done with an oven, Cricut mug, or heat press.

Want a guideline for the whole procedure? Then follow us to the main discussion. We have step-by-step guidelines for you. Let’s begin!

Can You Sublimate on Powder Coated Tumblers?

You can sublimate on powder-coated tumblers. But it has to be polyester based. Epoxy or vinyl-based powder-coated tumblers are not suited for sublimation.

Only polyester-based powder-coated tumblers are suitable for sublimation. The powder coating serves as an intermediate layer between the stainless steel and the sublimation ink.

This layer prevents the bleeding and fading of the ink. It also contributes to the creation of a uniform, smooth surface for the ink to bond to.

To sublimate a powder-coated tumbler you’ll need a sublimation printer, heat press, and sublimation transfer paper. But you can also use a Cricut mug press or oven.

First, you’ve powder-coat the stainless steel mug and then print the design on it. The design will be printed onto the transfer paper using the sublimation printer. 

The ink will next be transferred from the transfer paper to the tumbler by the heat press. The process is similar to sublimating on spray-painted tumblers.

Proper pressure and temperature are to be maintained throughout the process. With the right temperature and pressure, you can sublimate a powder-coated tumbler to produce a stunning, long-lasting design.

How to Sublimate on Powder-Coated Tumblers?

To properly sublimate a powder-coated tumbler you need to follow some steps. In this section, we’ll guide you through these steps. But first, let’s take a look at the tools and equipment you’ll be needing.

Tools & Equipment Needed

  • A powder-coated tumbler
  • Metal cup/tumbler stand
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Sublimation paper
  • A heat press
  • Sublimation heat tape
  • Teflon sheet/butcher paper
  • Ruler
  • Sublimation ink
  • Scissors

Step 1: Clean The Tumbler

Take a cotton pad and dip it in rubbing alcohol. Now, use the cotton pad to rub off any dirt or grime on the tumbler’s surface. If the surface isn’t clean the sublimation ink will not sit properly.

Let the surface dry before sublimating. Meanwhile, prepare the design for the sublimation paper to print on.

Step 2: Prepare The Design Print

The height and width of the graphics that’ll be printed on the sublimation paper depend on the tumbler’s size. For example, a 20 oz tumbler template should be 9.3 inches wide by 8.2 inches high.

Design Print
Source: Leap of Faith Crafting

For design, you can use sublimation design software or popular options like Adobe Illustrator, Canva, etc. You can find many pre-made templates free of cost to use.

First, open a custom project according to the tumbler’s size. Then upload the vector art or image that you want to use. Make changes if necessary and then download and print the design on a sublimation printer.

Step 3: Place The Design on The Tumbler

Wrap the sublimation paper around the tumbler tightly. Make sure no space gap between the paper and the tumbler surface.

can you sublimate on powder coating
Source: Leap of Faith Crafting

Now, use sublimation heat tape to secure the design tightly to the tumbler. You can watch the following video to get a visual demonstration-

Step 4: Sublimation 

Turn on the heat press and set the temperature to 390 degrees Fahrenheit. You can place a Teflon sheet or butcher paper on the lower pad of the heat press machine.

This is to avoid ink smudging on the machine. This is optional. Now place the tumbler on the heat press machine and close it. Apply medium pressure to the tumbler for about 90 seconds.

Roll the tumbler to the other side and press it again for 90 seconds. After heat-pressing all the sides, remove the tumbler from the machine and let it cool off. 

Finally, remove the Teflon paper and the sublimation paper from it and the design should be on the tumbler. Be careful with peeling if the sublimation paper is stuck on the tumblers.

The tumbler might still need cooling off.

How To Sublimate Powder-coated Tumblers On Oven?

It’s not necessary that your powder-coated tumbler must be sublimated with a heat press only. You can sublimate it in a convection oven if you want. 

To do this in an oven, follow steps 1-3 from the previous section. After sealing the design onto the tumbler, place it in the oven. Set the temperature to 390 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remove the tumbler from the oven after 5-7 minutes and let it cool down. Don’t remove the tape before it cools down. Otherwise, issues like tape marks on the sublimation tumbler will arise. 

After it cools down, remove the sublimation paper from the tumbler and the design should be there.

How To Sublimate Powder-coated Tumblers On A Cricut Mug Press?

Apart from a heat press or oven, you can use a Cricut Mug Press to sublimate your powder-coated tumbler. Follow steps 1-3 from the previous section to prepare the tumbler with the design.

Wrap the tumbler with butcher paper and then place the tumbler at the backend of the Cricut mug press. For uniform heating, rotate the tumbler while wearing heat-resistant gloves.

It is to ensure that all corners have the same heat pattern. Set a timer for one minute. When the timer goes off, remove the steel tumbler from the Cricut mug press.

Let it cool and then, carefully peel away the butcher paper to see the desired design.


Can you sublimate a tumbler on an air fryer?

Yes, you can sublimate a tumbler using an air fryer. Place the design on it and wrap it with tape & butcher paper. Put the tumbler inside the air fryer & set the temperature to 375F for 3 minutes. After 3 minutes change the position of the tumbler and bake it another 3 minutes before taking it out.

How to wash sublimated stainless steel Tumblers?

To wash sublimated stainless steel use mild soap water. Use a soft piece of cloth rather than an abrasive cleaner or scrubber to scrub the steel. Using such components may put scratches on the surface. Also, don’t wash them with a dishwasher. Finally, air dry them before storing them.

How can I get sublimation ink out of stainless steel Tumblers?

To remove the sublimation ink from stainless steel, immerse it in a bowl containing vinegar for 30 min. Rub off the ink with a soft scrubber. You can also wrap it in a silicone baking mat and place it in the oven at 400F. Take it out after 10 min and rub off the ink. Repeat it twice if there’s still some ink left.


Hopefully, you’ve got your answer to Can you sublimate on powder-coated tumblers? Sublimating on powder-coated tumblers can be achieved successfully with proper preparation, equipment, and guidelines. 

We hope our article will help you guide through the process. It also takes patience and careful handling to get a vibrant result. Good luck!

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