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Home >> Sublimation
Mug Transfers and Sublimation
There are many ways to do personalization of mugs. Laser, silk screen, solvent ink....they all have their pros and cons. It wasn't until in 1990 when Sawgrass patented sublimation ink. Then suddenly the whole mug personalization business was affordable to every household. Along with the boom in digital art, this business has experienced fast and furious growth. It is a perfect home based business that is very suitable in todays internet age. You can compete easily even with the internet mug personalization giants. (Sublimation is not limited to mug. It can also be applied onto tile, mouse pad, T shirt wood plaque and many more by using flat heat press instead of mug press)

1. So how and what?

We have many many inquiries about customization of mugs from 123 to abc. This blog is dedicated to this particular subject. It contains detail info on what you need, logistic, pricing and many more. It should give you a starting point of what to do and how to do it.

2. Introduction

Minimum around $675 investment for hobby to $1100 investment for gift shop or commercial use.

What do you need:

These are the equipments that most every one has:
1. computer and some photoshop program.
2. digital camera.

These are the things (including consumables) that most every one needs to purchase:

3. Sublimation ink: cartridges $292 (about 80 pages) or bulk flow $621 (about 480 pages)
4. Epson C88 printer about $80
5. Mug press ranges $179 to $230 (light duty or commercial duty shipping included)
6. 36 to 72 Mugs ranges $40 to $80 (shipping extra)
7. Sublimation Paper about $15
8. Heat tape about $6
9. Non-Stick sheet about $10

For items 3 to 8.

---Just want to do this for hobby set up: $292 + $80 + $179 + $40 + $15 + $6 + $10 = $622
---Commercial or gift shop set up: $621 + $80 + $230 + $80 + $15 + $6 + $10 = $1042

Plus shipping cost of the mugs (ranges from $25 to $75)

3. Sublimation ink

a. It is the single most expensive part of the whole mug press set up. Without this ink, the images can not be to transfer onto sublimation mug. This ink is patented by Sawgrass Technology. There are some less expensive sublimation ink that you can buy from Mexico or oversea. We have compared the results from different brands. We believe Sawgrass ink definitely got the edge on UV, durability and color vividness.

b. Sawgrass has two lines of sublimation ink for desktop printers ARTAINIUM and SUBLIJET. Sublijet ink cost about 20% more than the ArTainium. The diifference is ArTainium color correction profile is a software that user attached to the graphic software such as Photoshop or Corel. Whereas Sublijet has its own printer driver. Which one should you use? I recommend ArTainium because both ink are pretty much the same. You will get the same color vividness. As far as software and driver, it is very easy to set up for both inks.

c. Bulk flow or cartridge: Bulk flow gives user the best deal. It is about $1.41 per ml (even include the bulk flow system.) User should get approximately 480 to 550 pages depends on the graphics. A installation video will come with the purchase. Cartridge cost about $4.86 per ml. It gives user the simipicity factor. User should get approximately 80 pages depends on the graphics. Many of my customers who bought bulks actually bought cartridges first to test if sublimation is right for them.

4. Epson C88 printer

a. We highly recommend getting a new Epson C88 printer. It is inexpensive. We do not sell them because we feel you will get a better pricing from or any other internet retailer.

b. Sawgrass support many printers by Epson. C88 is just one of the printer that is supported by Sawgrass Technology. Many customer ask if they can use their own existing or spare printer. If the printer is a supported by Sawgrass (see printer list in our Sublimation Ink page), then it is ok. However, we really do not advise switching the ink on one printer. Everytime user switches the ink, you will loose a little ink due tocleaning and flushing. Sublimation ink cost too much to let it flush like that.

c. Lexmark, HP, Brother....... these printers are definitely not support by Sawgrass.

5. Commercial duty or light duty mug press

a. Weight: 18 lbs vs. 9 lbs.
b. Mug wrap housing: Cast iron vs. sheet metal.
c. Gauge: Adjustable temperature vs. pre set.
d. Timer: Digital set vs. push botton dial set.
e. Heating mat: Better quality vs. standard quality.
f. Easy of use: Commercial duty is easier to use.
g. Consistency: Commercial duty is gives you more consistent results.

We have many customers that purchased light duty mug press and are very happy with it. However, we recommend commercial duty for heavy usage.

6. Sublimation mugs

a. This is just a regular white ceramic mug coated with a very special coating. Without this coating, sublimation ink can not be absorbed onto the mug.

b. Most mugs comes in 11 oz or 15 oz size.

c. There are two types of coating for the mugs: Soft and hard. Hard coating is a polyester base coating - It transfer at about 400 deg. F. It can withstand repeated dishwasher cycles. It costs about $1.10 to $1.50 each. Soft coating is a acrylic urethane based mug. Image can also be transfered onto this mug at 350 deg. F. It can stand up to regular hand wash but it can not withstand dishwasher. It costs about $0.95 to $1.10. Both coatings are microwave save. In general, hard coating will last longer.

d. We only carry the soft coated mugs.

e. Shipping of sublimation mug is very expensive because each mug weigh about 1 lb. For example, shipping locally cost about $15 vs. from L.A. to Miami about $49. A reasonable price to pay for the shipping is no more than $35. If you live on the east coast, make sure you buy the mugs from a place that is closed to you.

7. Sublimation Paper

You will use this type of paper to go with your sublimation ink printer. This is a special type of paper that does not absorb ink. It is just a carrier of ink. During mug heat transfer, the ink from on the paper will vaporized and zap right onto the mug and absorbed by the coating on the mug. It costs around $10 to $15 for 100 sheet.

8. Heat tape

a. It costs about $6. It is a special type of tape that will not leave black gum or residue after heating.
b. It is used to tape the design or graphics onto the mug while preparing for sublimation transfer. It will make your transfering process easier to do.

9. Non-Stick Sheet

It is used as a shield for the mug press heat mat. It keeps the over run ink off the mug wrap. Make sure use the premium nonporous Non-Stick sheet, rather than the regular porous Non-Stick sheet. Sublimation is a vaporization process. Porous sheet is useless in this application.

We sincerely hope these info can help. If you have further questions, please write to us at