Guide to Sublimation Blanks: Materials, Types & Suppliers

Eight mug blanks with colored interiors and handles ready for sublimation printing.

Sublimation printing is the process of making long-lasting prints on a wide variety of materials using sublimation ink.

Sublimation ink is a special type of ink that is solid at normal temperatures but turns into a gas when exposed to extreme heat.

When the ink is in its vapor state, it is able to permeate any kind of material that is made of polyester or has a polymer coating.

Once it is removed from the heat, it reverts back to its solid state, effectively sealing itself into the substrate. 

While normal printing prints an image on the surface of a material, sublimation printing embeds the ink into the material, becoming a part of the substrate and leaving behind a smooth finish. 

What are sublimation blanks? Sublimation blanks are the materials that you can print on with sublimation printing. If sublimation blanks are fabric, they must contain some portion of polyester, and if they are a hard material, they will need to have a polymer coating in order to work with the sublimation ink. 

If you are a printing hobbyist who is ready to turn your craft into a business, then sublimation printing might be for you.

Read on to learn what sublimation blanks are, a list of sublimation blanks you can use sublimation printing on, how to make your own sublimation blanks, and where you can purchase ready-made sublimation blanks. 

Guide to Sublimation Blanks

Sublimation blanks are a key part of the sublimation printing process. They are substrates (or materials) that contain polyester or a polymer coating.

The sublimation ink has a chemical reaction with the polyester or polymer when heated and bonds semi-permanently with the substrate.

Sublimation Blanks Explained

Sublimation blanks are any item that contains polyester or has a polymer coating that can be printed on with sublimation ink.

Sublimation blanks can include both fabrics as well as harder materials.

What Are Sublimation Blanks Made Of?

Sublimation blanks can be made of fabric, or they can be harder materials such as those made out of ceramic, metal, or plastic.

Whatever they are made of, it is important that they contain some amount of polyester, as that is what the sublimation ink binds with when heated.

You can spray uncoated objects with a polymer coating to make your own sublimation blanks.

What Are Sublimation Blanks Coated With?

Sublimation blanks are coated with a polymer coating.

When heat is applied to the substrate, it expands the molecules in the polymer coating while the ink is simultaneously transformed from a solid into a gas. 

As the polymer coating becomes more porous, the ink in its gas form is infused into the substrate.

Once the heat is removed, the gas turns back into a solid and the molecules contract again, effectively trapping the ink within the substrate.

Types of Sublimation Blanks

There is a huge range of sublimation blanks to choose from. To name just a few:

  • Puzzles
  • Notebooks and file folders
  • USBs and power banks
  • Coasters
  • Ornaments
  • Mirrors
  • Tumblers, shot glasses, and mugs
  • License plates, dog tags, and ID cards
  • Magnetic clips
  • Bottle openers and corkscrews
  • Candles and candle holders
  • Door hangers
  • Tape measurers
  • Lampshades and car shades
  • Lighters
  • Lunch boxes
  • Wine stoppers
  • Key chains
  • Jewelry
  • Phone covers
  • Face masks
  • Pot holders and oven mitts
  • Pillow cases, bags, and totes
  • Mouse pads
  • Magnets
  • Wine bags and cozies
  • T-shirts
  • Jerseys and bandanas
  • Bibs and burp clothes
  • Tiles
  • Picture frames
  • Pop sockets
  • Light-switch covers
  • Clocks
  • Cutting boards

How To Make Your Own Sublimation Blanks

There are a few ways that you can make your own sublimation blanks.

If you are wanting to make a sublimation blank out of a soft material, then you can use a special transfer paper, such as Forever Subli-Light transfer paper or  along with a finishing paper to print on fabrics like cotton.

You can also purchase a Sublimation Coating spray that can be used on fabrics.

Pristar Sublimation Coating Spray for Cotton...
  • Wide Applications: Works on all fabrics including 100% Cotton, blend, polyester for T-shirts,...
  • Package Include: 2x 100ml Sublimation Coating Spray, 200ml total. 2x Extra Nozzle.

Simply spray a thin, even coat on the fabric, allow it to dry completely, and then use the heat press to apply your design to the garment.

If you are looking to create your own sublimation blanks on a hard surface, you can use something like SubTHAT!, which is a dye sublimation transfer film.

SubTHAT! is a heat transferable film that can be used on a variety of materials, including wood, ceramic, glass, aluminum, and stone, among others. 

You can use a paint sprayer to apply poly coating to any uncoated hard material on which you wish to sublimation print.

Apply thin, even layers, and allow each layer to completely dry before applying the next coat. 

Sublimation Blank Suppliers

If you don’t want to spend the time and energy making your own sublimation blanks, you can purchase premade sublimation blanks directly from the supplier.

Some popular sublimation blank suppliers include:

  • Coastal Business offers an extensive range of sublimation blanks, including magnets, dry-erase boards, pillow cases, and more. 
  • Conde Systems sells sublimation blanks as well as sublimation inks, printers, heat presses, and papers.
  • There are many different sellers on eBay who offer a wide variety of sublimation blanks. 
  • Like eBay, Etsy users also sell many different kinds of sublimation blanks.
  • Cricut has tons of sublimation blanks for sale.
  • Artesprix offers thousands of sublimation blanks made of wood, metal, plastic, and fabric. 
  • The Heat Transfer Warehouse has patches, tumblers, pop sockets, pot holders, and more available in their sublimation blank section. 
  • Craft Chameleon has sublimation blanks, transfers, and digital designs for sale on their site.

Related Questions: 

Can You Use Vinyl on Sublimation Blanks?

Heat Transfer Vinyl (or HTV) is made of polyurethane, which means that it can be used for sublimation printing.

To use HTV as a sublimation blank, you will first cut the shape of the design out of the vinyl.

Then print the design on sublimation transfer paper (make sure to reverse it if it’s directional or has words). 

Next, you will heat press the vinyl shape into the material on which you wish to print. Then, place the sublimation transfer paper over the shape of the vinyl and heat press it into the vinyl. 

Can You Use Transfer Paper on Sublimation Blanks?

You can use transfer paper on sublimation blanks.

The sublimation printing process entails applying sublimation transfer paper to a sublimation blank and then using a heat press to infuse the blank with the sublimation ink. 

Conclusion 

Sublimation blanks are the substrate or material that you print on when engaging in sublimation printing.

Sublimation blanks can be soft, such as T-shirts, oven mitts, and pillow cases, or they can be made of harder material, like wood, plastic, or acrylic.

Sublimation blanks must contain some degree of polyester or polymer coating in order to bond with the sublimation ink and create vivid prints.

The more polyester a blank contains, the brighter the image will be.

Last update on 2022-05-18 at 11:18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Cara

Cara

I am a writer and an artist taking opportunities every day to transform my dreams into reality. I love learning new things and am always creating and innovating. I worked as an Art Instructor, teaching painting and art techniques to artists of all levels and ages. I have hosted countless paint parties and taught children’s art classes both in my home as well as an art teacher at a Montessori school.