How To Print Mugs On-Demand

How To Print Mugs On-Demand

How To Print Mugs On-Demand

We all love coffee mugs. There are thousands of differently-designed mugs out there, from simplistic to intricate designs. If you wonder how these designs come to life on mugs, you are at the right place. Today, we will share how to print mugs on-demand by the most popular mug printing method.

Dye Sublimation - The Most Popular Way To Print Mugs On Demand!

Yes, there are many different mug printing techniques out there, but dye sublimation is the clear winner. Why is that so?

Well, for starters, it is preferred by many printing individuals and companies because of the crystal-clear graphics. In this case, it means that the colors you see digitally will be conveyed faithfully on the printed mug.

To make the crystal-clear results happen, this method utilizes organic color dyes with a combination of heat transfer techniques to produce a design that looks brand new and not lazy at all.

Dye sublimation is used to print promotional mugs on demand. Especially those mugs that require spot-on colors to attract more customers. Yes, because of the glossy print result, it will be fairly easy to outrank the competition that possibly utilizes more traditional mug printing techniques.

To put the cherry on top, the dye sublimation technique is 100% environment-friendly, as it doesn't use harmful materials like cadmium and lead.

Now that you know more about the most popular mug printing technique let's see how to print mugs on-demand, step-by-step!

What Materials Do You Need To Print Mugs On Demand?

To make it short and sweet, here is a list of all the things you will need for the dye sublimation print technique:

  • Inkjet printer - make sure that it has sublimation inks installed
  • Graphic design
  • Sublimation paper
  • Mug heat press
  • Pair of scissors and a ruler
  • Heat tape
  • Blank sublimation mug

Step 1: Prepare The Artwork

Keep in mind that there are different mug sizes, so the artwork will be either larger or smaller. Create a template that fits the size of your mug, as you'll use this as a canvas for your graphics. You can do this in Adobe Illustrator.

The important thing to take care of is to keep essential graphics 2.5mm away from the edge of the artwork guidelines. This will be important later on, as you don't want to accidentally cut your logo. You can create a guiding line for that, which is quite easy. Here is a useful video detailing this process in Illustrator.

Another thing to take care of is the alignment of the graphic. For example, if a person is right-handed (90% of people are right-handed), you will align the logo on the right-hand side. Right now, it's on the wrong side, but as the mirror image gets printed, it will align itself correctly.

Now, you are ready to print the artwork!

Step 2: Print The Artwork

For sublimation paper, you won't need a lot of ink for the printing process. Before you print the artwork on the sublimation paper, make sure that you use the settings for plain paper and that you are printing a mirror image.

After a dozen seconds, the sublimation paper should now have your artwork. Now, don't worry about the washed-out graphics, as all sublimation paper prints look like this. The artwork will look high-quality once it's printed onto the mug itself.

Step 3: Cut Your Artwork And Position In Onto The Mug

Now, take those scissors and cut the sublimation paper at least 1mm inside the guideline. Make sure that there is no guideline left on the paper, as you don't want it printed on the mug.

Before you place the cut artwork on your mug, make sure to make two cuts in the middle of the paper (one on the top, one on the bottom). You see, mugs are slightly tapered, so we want to do this to be able to adjust the center of the sublimation paper for correct alignment. If you don't do this, the graphics may not be aligned correctly along the bottom of the mug.

Cut three 12-inch heat tape pieces for later use. Now, wrap the sublimation paper around the mug, with the artwork facing inward. Rotate it back and forth until you don't reach the same distance between both ends of the mug. Also, make sure that there is the same amount of space at the top and bottom of the mug.

After you align this correctly, place the heat tape pieces on the paper's left and right center sides.

The next step of our how to print mugs on-demand guide will teach you how to use the heat press to finalize the design!

Step 4: Transfer The Artwork On The Mug With Heat Press

As you place the mug in the heat press machine, make sure that there is enough pressure on it. You will know when there is enough pressure by how close to the mug is the rubber backing of the machine.

Now, you need to set the correct settings of the heat press. The normal temperature is around 400F (204 C). You don't want to set lower temperatures as that may not fully transfer the artwork on the mug. 

Set the timer to 180 seconds and let the machine preheat to the selected temperature. Once it reaches the desired temperature, start the heat press and wait it out.

After the heat pressing process, release the pressure and remove the mug from the press. Be careful, as the mug will be extra hot. 

Also, make sure that you peel off the paper from the mug smoothly. If you don't do so, either the mug will stay with a double image or a blurry image. Remember that you may fail to print the ideal design at first, so you may need to experiment with temperature and timer settings.

If you followed our guide on how to print mugs on demand, you should have a mug with a crystal-clear design on it. Now, the next step in your journey is to market these mugs to the right audience or gift them to your loved ones. We are sure they will love them.


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Check out our Youtube video here to see how simple print on demand is with our Shopify app!

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