How To Sublimate Ceramic Mugs Using a Mug Press

sublimating ceramic mugs with sublimation printing

Sublimate ceramic mugs with this easy guide!

Learn How Sublimation Of Ceramic Mugs Is Done. It’s Easier Than You Think!

In today’s blog post (and videos!), we’ll give you step-by-step instructions on sublimating ceramic mugs using a sublimation printer and mug heat press machine, as well as a complete checklist of all the materials you’ll need!

In this sublimate ceramic mugs video (overview of the process) learn about sublimating mugs with the most current sublimation printers and best mug press on the market.

This is a more detailed video (how-to guide) for sublimation mug printing – Check out our blog post after watching this video!


How to Sublimate Ceramic Mugs: Printing Supplies

Before you begin the ceramic mug sublimation process, make sure you have all of the following materials:

How to Sublimate Ceramic Mugs in 7-Steps

Once you have the right materials gathered for performing dye-sublimation printing, follow the steps below to print a high-quality image on your ceramic mug using a mug heat press machine.


1. Choose Your Graphics

The first step in sublimating a mug is choosing the image or graphic you’re going to print on it.

If you’re printing with a Sawgrass Virtuoso Printer SG400 or SG800. These come with an easy-to-use program called

Creative Studio – which also includes hundreds of templates a huge curated library of images, cloud storage and more!

If you prefer, you can also use programs such as Photoshop, CorelDRAW, or Adobe Illustrator to design your own graphics.

You can also download mug templates here, here, and here if you’re not comfortable creating your own.

When choosing the size of your sublimation graphics, keep in mind that the typical 10 or 11oz mug is 3×9 inches (3 inches high, 9 wide).

Keep in mind you must use mugs that have a special coating for sublimation printing. These mugs are specially coated in a factory. You cannot coat them yourself.

Also keep in mind that while it’s possible to print full bleed over the top and bottom edges of the mug, some mugs have a tapper that can make it difficult for this to transfer.

So if you sublimate ceramic mugs that are tapered (at the top or bottom), you should print approximately ¼ inch away from the top and bottom edges.

We also recommend that you copy and paste your chosen design multiple times on a single piece of paper to lower your printing costs and make your production more efficient.

Once you’ve chosen your sublimation graphics, you’re ready to move on to step 2.


2. Print Your Chosen Graphics

When you’re ready to print, you can choose to use full-size transfer paper (8.5”x11”) and gang your images, or use transfer paper that’s already sized for common mug sizes, including 10, 11, and 15 ounces.

Make sure you’ve chosen the correct printer settings for mug sublimation graphics –

Namely, checking the box “mirror image” and use no more than 300 DPI resolution (any higher will be a waste of ink and take longer than necessary to print).

Make sure to select the correct printer, loaded with the sublimation inks and sublimation transfer paper.

Equally important, be sure you are printing on the coated side of the paper!

Once you’ve finalized everything, print your graphics and proceed to the next step.


3. Cut Your Graphics to Fit your Ceramic Mug

Using a pair of scissors, trim the transfer paper so that the size of the image is slightly smaller than the mug in both directions (to make it easier to tape down).

Now turn the transfer paper so the image is turned in, facing the mug.

Tightly wrap the paper around the mug.

Make sure the paper is pressed firmly against the surface of the mug.

Secure the transfer paper with heat-resistant tape at each end of the printed transfer.


4. Adjust the Settings of Your Dye Sublimation Mug Press

To prepare your mug sublimation printer, set the temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, or 204 degrees Celsius.

Set the pressure adjustment to “medium-heavy,” and set the timer for 4-6 minutes*

*The exact time will vary depending on the heat press manufacturer & blank mug manufacturer

This may require a bit of experimentation (in time, temp & pressure, depending on your mug press) to sublimate ceramic mugs with best results.


5. Place Your Mug into the Heat Press

Once your mug heat press has reached 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 204 degrees Celsius, you’re ready for pressing.

Carefully place your mug into the heat press without wrinkling or folding the transfer paper.

This is critical. Any slight crease in the paper will alter or ruin your final design.

Now, gently close the press and begin the sublimation process.

Note that the press should firmly snap closed, but be careful to not apply too much pressure or your mug will break.


6. Remove Your Mug from the Heat Press

Once the desired time has passed, open the press and remove the mug using your heat-resistant oven mitt (the mug will be extremely hot).

Quickly remove the transfer paper taped to the mug by carefully removing the tape (a narrow knife or tweezers may help in this process).


7. Allow Your Mug to Cool

Your mug sublimation process is almost complete.

Set aside your hot mug and allow it to cool for an extended period of time.

Until it’s not hot to the touch (you may also use a fan on low speed to cool the mug faster).


With Sublimation Printing You Can Sublimate Ceramic Mugs & Create Amazing High Quality Mugs That Last A Lifetime!

Need Help Getting Started with Mug Sublimation?

sublimate ceramic mugs mugs with sublimation printing

If you want to sublimate ceramic mugs like a pro, then you need the same equipment the pros use.

Check out the Sawgrass Virtuoso SG400 sublimation printer and Geo Knight DK3 mug heat press to start making high-quality sublimation mugs today!

Also see related posts:
Blank Mugs For Sublimation (Silver & Gold)
Sublimation Printers
TexPrint R Sublimation Heat Transfer Paper
Flipping Your Image Before Printing
Mug Oven For High Mug Production
5 Most Common Sublimation Problems
Learn How to Sublimate On Acrylic
What is Sublimation
Sawgrass Ink

13 thoughts on “How To Sublimate Ceramic Mugs Using a Mug Press

  1. I need help – I ordered coffee mugs from an online printer who supposedly did them by sublimation.

    The first one had a large black logo with red and white reversed out text. When I received the mug, the black was printed a dark brown and the red text was orange. Plus in the bottom area, there is orange tinges of color over the white text.

    I sent it back and the replacement was just as bad – they said they couldn’t guarantee anything better.

    So 2 times I have simplified the art, changed the black background to white with black and red text, still looks horrible.

    Changed the font from bold to light, still the same issue with the red text printing orange – plus the next to bottom line of text is printed fuzzy.

    I’m frustrated – I need to understand why my nice clean artwork doesn’t print well.

    I intend to buy mug printing equipment but not if it can’t print my designs.

    Can I email you a pix of the 3 bad mugs and you tell me why they look so bad.

    I’m a Commercial Printer and if I produced crap like the stuff I’m getting, I’d soon be out of business.

    Michael Gribbin
    AllPrint Commercial Printing

    1. Hi Michael, I forwarded this information to our sale manager (Jim) so he can contact you. If would like to call him directly he can be reached at 954-989-1250 Ext 207
      It is best to explain this directly so you get the maximum understanding what can be causing this issue and how to achieve proper results.

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