a photo collage of sublimation tumblers

The Best Sublimation Tumblers for Beginners

The Best Sublimatable Tumblers for Beginners

When it comes to crafting ideas, we know you're always on the hunt for a fantastic new project that makes people say, “Wow!” And we have just the thing to infuse your artistic flair into vibrant, one-of-a-kind creations. 

Say hello to the incredible world of sublimation!

The sublimation process was first discovered in the mid-1950s by a French researcher named Noel De Plasse and used commercially, but it recently started trending as a quick and easy method for customizing cups, shirts, bags, holiday ornaments, pet fashion products, and so much more. Many crafters love its simplicity and are blown away by the final result you can only get from the process.

In this article, we'll narrow in on tumblers specifically and explain which cups are ideal for sublimation (and which ones you need to stay away from), give you a short list of 5 or 6 things you need to get started, and reveal why you need to hop on the tumbler bandwagon.

Keep reading to learn more about your soon-to-be next crafting obsession! 

What Is Sublimation?

The million-dollar question: What exactly is sublimation? Scientifically speaking, sublimation is a fantastic process that transforms solid ink into a gas without passing through the liquid phase. 

In the context of custom tumblers, this means that your unique designs will be printed using special dye-sublimation ink onto sublimation paper. Then that image is wrapped around your tumbler and placed in a heat press or oven. When heat and pressure are applied, the ink magically infuses itself into the tumbler's surface. The result? A stunning, high-quality, and long-lasting design that's sure to make heads turn.

Now, you might be wondering, why is sublimation the perfect match for creating custom tumblers? We're glad you asked! 

Sublimation offers unparalleled vibrancy and detail, allowing you to unleash your inner artist and create truly one-of-a-kind pieces. Plus, since the ink becomes part of the tumbler's surface, your full-color, photo-quality designs won't peel, crack, or fade over time. Say goodbye to mediocre, short-lived creations, and say hello to tumblers that are built to last and impress!

As if the vivid designs and durability weren't enough, sublimation also boasts several benefits over other methods of tumbler customization. For instance, sublimation takes no time in comparison to other customization techniques. The simple print, press, and reveal process means you can customize more cups in less time! Who doesn’t want more free time in their day?

Whether the appeal is choosing to use incredible science to make eye-catching works of art or simply to have a more durable finished product, sublimation is a win. But one thing to keep in mind is that you need the right tumbler for the end result to shine.

Not All Tumblers Are Created Equal

As tempting as it may be to grab any old tumbler and start sublimating, it's crucial to choose the right one for your project. After all, you wouldn't want to invest your time, creativity, and resources only to end up with a subpar final product. Trust us — selecting the perfect tumbler for sublimation is the key to unlocking your full crafting potential.

Why Are Some Tumblers More Difficult to Sublimate Than Others?

Material composition: Not all tumblers are cut out for the spotlight, and that's partly due to their material composition. For successful sublimation, your tumbler should be made of a material that can withstand high heat and properly bond with the sublimation ink. Typically, this means opting for tumblers made of materials like coated stainless steel, ceramic, or glass.

Tumbler shape and design: Ever try to wrap a gift with way too many curves and angles? The struggle is real! Similarly, sublimating on tumblers with complex shapes or designs can be quite the challenge. For beginners, we recommend starting with simpler, more straightforward shapes that allow for even heat distribution and a smoother sublimation process.

Coating and preparation: The secret ingredient that makes sublimation possible is the tumbler's coating. A high-quality, sublimation-friendly coating ensures the ink bonds correctly with the tumbler's surface. In other words, a well-prepared tumbler is a happy tumbler. Keep an eye out for tumblers that come pre-coated and specifically designed for sublimation to avoid unnecessary headaches.

The Importance of Using Tumblers Specifically Labeled as Sublimatable

Remember that epic tumbler masterpiece we talked about earlier? Well, that dream can only become a reality if you use products explicitly labeled as “sublimatable.” 

These tumblers are designed to work seamlessly with the sublimation process, guaranteeing optimal results and a finished product that will leave your friends, family, and customers in awe. So, before you get started, make sure to double-check that your chosen tumbler is sublimatable. Your future self will thank you!

HOGG’s Top 3 Sublimation Tumblers for Beginners

When it comes to choosing beginner-friendly tumblers, we've got your back! Our selection criteria focus on ease of use, affordability, and versatility. We look for tumblers that offer a straightforward sublimation process, are made from high-quality materials, and come in a variety of sizes and styles to suit your unique needs. 

Tumbler #1: The 20 Oz. Straight Sublimatable Skinny Tumbler

This straight, cylinder-shaped stainless steel tumbler is coated for sublimation and is also our best-selling tumbler at HOGG. Its simple shape makes it a breeze to work with, while the stainless steel construction ensures durability.

Benefits: The straight-walled design makes the taping and design application process simple because there are no curves or tapers to interfere with the taping process. Plus, it allows for even heat distribution during the heat process, making it a fantastic choice for beginners.

Why it's great for beginners: The no-fuss shape and reliable performance make this tumbler an ideal starting point for those new to sublimation. 

Tumbler #2: The 20 Oz. Sublimatable Clear Glass Skinny Duo Tumbler

This elegant, sublimation-ready glass tumbler adds a touch of sophistication to your drinkware collection. With a smooth surface and two interchangeable lids (one clear sliding lid and one bamboo lid), it's perfect for showcasing your creative designs.

Benefits: The glass material not only offers a high-end look but also ensures your custom prints are crisp and vibrant. Being dishwasher-safe, it's a practical option for daily use without the fear of your design fading or peeling.

Why it's great for beginners: The smooth curves and even surface of this glass tumbler make it a user-friendly choice for beginners. It allows you to try sublimating on a different material while still keeping the process simple and enjoyable. Plus, the end result is a stunning, premium-quality tumbler that's sure to impress.

Tumbler #3: The 15 Oz. Sublimatable Ceramic Mug

This classic coffee mug design is the perfect cup to customize your morning beverage routine and keep you properly caffeinated. We also offer a wrap template to ensure your patterns line up perfectly on all of your mug projects.

Benefits: The white ceramic material is the perfect blank canvas for any design, and the pre-treated surface ensures that these custom mugs will look like new for years.

Why it’s great for beginners: The mug’s handle may seem challenging at first, but our wrap template is the perfect sidekick for making mug projects a breeze. Ceramic is also an excellent material for sublimation and produces a stunning final product.

Ultimately, the ideal tumbler for your project will depend on your unique requirements and preferences. Happy sublimating!

Essential Sublimation Equipment

Are you worried that sublimation requires a mountain of equipment and tons of space? Spoiler alert: It doesn’t! You can get started on your sublimation journey with just a few essential items. With the right tools at your disposal, you'll be well on your way to creating stunning custom tumblers in no time. 

Here’s an ideal list of tools you want to get your hands on before starting your sublimation projects:

  • Sublimation printer: A specialized printer designed to work with sublimation ink is a must-have for any aspiring tumbler artist.
  • Sublimation ink: This magical ink is specifically formulated for the sublimation process, ensuring vibrant, long-lasting results.
  • Sublimation paper: Print your designs onto this special paper, and watch them come to life on your tumbler.
  • Heat-resistant tape: Keep your designs securely in place during the sublimation process with this essential crafting companion.
  • Heat press or convection oven: Choose between a tumbler heat press or a convection oven for applying the perfect amount of heat and pressure to transfer your designs.
  • Protective gloves: Safety first! Grab a pair of heat-resistant gloves to protect your hands during the sublimation process.

Recommendations for Budget-Friendly and Space-Saving Sublimation Tools

Are you on a tight budget or limited in crafting space? No problem! Here are some recommendations to help you get started without breaking the bank or taking over your entire living room:

  • Printer: Look for a compact sublimation printer or consider converting an existing inkjet printer into a sublimation printer with the right ink and cartridges.
  • Heat press or convection oven: If you're short on space, consider using a small convection oven instead of a dedicated heat press. It's a versatile and cost-effective solution that can be used for tumblers and other sublimation projects.
  • Bulk supplies: Purchase sublimation supplies in bulk to take advantage of discounts and ensure you always have what you need on hand. (We know this won’t save space, but it will definitely help you save some cash in the long run.)

Remember, starting your sublimation journey doesn't have to be expensive or overwhelming. With a few carefully chosen tools and a little creativity, you'll be on your way to crafting custom tumblers like a pro!

Sublimation Tips and Tricks for Beginners

As you embark on your sublimation journey, you'll inevitably learn a few tricks of the trade. But why not give yourself a head start with some insider tips and advice? Keep reading for best practices for achieving flawless sublimation results and common mistakes to avoid!

Best Practices for Achieving Perfect Sublimation Results

  • Use high-quality images: Start with high-resolution images to ensure crisp, clear designs that look amazing on your tumblers.
  • Test prints: Before sublimating, print your design on regular paper to check for any issues with colors, sizing, or alignment.
  • Preheat your tumbler: Gently preheating your tumbler before sublimating can help improve ink adhesion and create a more even transfer.
  • Secure your design: Use heat-resistant tape to firmly attach your design to the tumbler, ensuring a smooth, wrinkle-free surface during the sublimation process.
  • Monitor time and temperature: Follow recommended time and temperature guidelines for your specific tumbler material to avoid over- or under-heating.
  • Allow tumblers to cool: Give your tumblers adequate time to cool down before handling to avoid smudging or damaging your design.

Common Sublimation Mistakes to Avoid

  • Using the wrong type of tumbler: Always choose tumblers specifically designed for sublimation to ensure optimal results.
  • Rushing the process: Give yourself plenty of time to properly prepare and execute each step of the sublimation process.
  • Ignoring printer maintenance: Regularly clean and maintain your sublimation printer to avoid clogs, streaks, or other printing issues.
  • Overlooking safety precautions: Always wear protective gloves and follow safety guidelines when working with heat presses or convection ovens.

We know that embarking on a new creative adventure can be both exciting and daunting, but remember — every expert was once a beginner! With patience, practice, and a willingness to learn from your mistakes, you'll soon be crafting custom tumblers that will leave everyone in awe.

Don't be afraid to experiment and think outside the box. Your unique style and creativity will set your tumblers apart from the rest. Trust in your abilities, ask for help when needed, and most importantly, have fun! Your sublimation journey is just beginning, and the possibilities are endless. Happy crafting!

Use the Stainless Steel Depot for All Your Sublimation Needs

What are you waiting for? It's time to take the plunge and dive into the world of sublimation! With our beginner-friendly guide by your side, you'll be well-equipped to navigate the twists and turns of tumbler creation. 

As you get started on your sublimated creation, remember that we have everything you need to create incredible tumblers at the Stainless Depot by HOGG. Be sure to check out our inventory of the latest and greatest tumbler designs for your next project. And if you’re looking for even more support along the way, join our private Facebook group to get live support from our community of dedicated crafters!

Remember, the best way to learn is by doing — so grab those tumblers, fire up that heat press, and unleash your creativity!


Below is a list of all the incredibly creative contributors to the photo at the top of this article, we love our community! 

  • It's Sew Aimee
  • LaKisha Walker
  • Carol Haron
  • Bymerrellwithlove
  • Momof2heathensco
  • Amber Noll
  • Meghan Shreiner
  • Kapricia S. Paylor
  • Miranda Mcwilliams
  • Cloudyscraftz
  • Carey Stevens
  • Elizabeth Ashlee
  • Jeremy Roberts
  • Manning the Press
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