Sublimation Tumbler Heat Press Machine Quick Start Guide

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When discussing the customization market, two key segments stand out: T-shirt printing and mug and tumbler pressing. While garment decoration typically involves the use of flat heat presses for thermal transfer, those venturing into the tumbler business are likely more acquainted with sublimation tumbler heat press machines. If you’re contemplating starting a tumbler business but are unsure how to sublimate tumblers with a tumbler press machine, you can find everything you need to achieve optimal results for your business in this guide post.

What’s A Sublimation Tumbler Heat Press Machine?

A sublimation tumbler heat press machine is specifically designed to apply heat and pressure to tumblers, mugs, cups, and bottles for the sublimation printing process. Sublimation printing enables users to print designs onto sublimation paper using a sublimation printer and inks. When heated, the design on the sublimation paper vaporizes into gas and is transferred onto the polymer coating of blanks to achieve printing.

The tumbler heat press machine is regarded as essential equipment, empowering users to craft vibrant and intricate customized designs for a wide range of drinkware products. With its capabilities, users can effortlessly bring their creativity to life, transforming plain tumblers, mugs, cups, and bottles into personalized works of art. This versatile machine opens up endless possibilities for customization, allowing businesses and individuals alike to add unique flair and individuality to their drinkware collections. Whether for promotional purposes, personal use, or gifting, the tumbler heat press machine offers a convenient and effective solution for creating eye-catching designs that stand out from the crowd.

Types of Blanks To Sublimate with Tumbler Heat Press Machine

While many refer to it as a tumbler heat press or mug press, the true application of this equipment extends far beyond its name. With some versatile tumbler press machines offering multiple heater sizes, you can customize a wide variety of drinkware found in the market. And among the various types of drinkware, ceramic mugs, stainless steel tumblers, and aluminum bottles stand out as some of the most popular blanks to consider when expanding your product line.

How to start tumbler business with best tumbler heat press machine
How to start tumbler business with best tumbler heat press machine

However, when selecting the right machine for your business, it’s crucial to consult the supplier regarding the sizes and shapes the machine can accommodate. Here is a heater size table from Galaxy Press that you can use as a reference to determine which sizes and shapes are essential for your business.

NameItem No.PhotoTop DiameterBottom DiameterHeightCompatible Model
Mug Heater for 11oz Mug(Red)J.02.06.0004-110V J.02.06.0006-220VMug Heater for 11oz MugRed72MM72MM120MMGS-203
Mug Heater for 11oz Mug(White)J.02.06.0009-110V J.02.06.0008-220VMug Heater for 11oz MugWhite72MM72MM120MMGS-203/205B Plus
Mug Heater for 6oz Mug(Red)J.02.06.0005-110V J.02.06.0007-220VMug Heater for 6oz MugWhite58MM58MM120MMGS-203
Mug Heater for 6oz Mug(White)J.02.06.0019-220VMug Heater for 6oz MugRed58MM58MM120MMGS-203/205B Plus
Mug Heater for 12oz MugJ.02.06.0015-110V J.02.06.0018-220VMug Heater for 12oz Mug80MM54MM116MMGS-203/205B Plus
Mug Heater for 17oz MugJ.02.06.0017-110V J.02.06.0016-220VMug Heater for 17oz Mug77MM50MM162MMGS-203/205B Plus
Mug Heater for 11oz/15oz MugJ.02.06.0035-110V J.02.06.0021-220VMug Heater for 11oz15oz Mug72MM72MM140MMGS-203TC/GS-206/GS-206M/GS-205B Plus
Mug Heater for Aluminum bottleJ.02.06.0037-110V J.02.06.0022-220VMug Heater for Aluminum bottle60MM60MM170MMGS-203TA/GS-207/GS-207M/GS-205B Plus
Mug Heater for 30oz TumblerJ.02.06.0048-110V J.02.06.0047-220VMug Heater for 30oz Tumbler70MM70MM300MMGS-205B Plus
Mug Heater for 30oz TumblerJ.02.06.0032-110V J.02.06.0026-220VMug Heater for 30oz Tumbler 1100MM95MM105MMGS-205B Plus
Mug heater for 450ml Straw Tumbler & 500ml ShakerJ.02.06.0040-110V J.02.06.0038-220VMug heater for 450ml Straw Tumbler 500ml Shaker88MM65MM170MMGS-205B Plus/GS-209
Mug heater for 12oz Stemless TumblerJ.02.06.0041-110V J.02.06.0039-220VMug heater for 12oz Stemless Tumbler87MM75MM95MMGS-210/GS-205B Plus
Mug Heater for 1.5oz Shot GlassJ.02.06.0043-110V J.02.06.0044-220VMug Heater for 1.5oz Shot Glass48MM30MM75MMGS-205B Plus/GS-205B Pro
Mug Heater for 750ml TumblerJ.02.06.0030mug heater for 750ml tumbler77.9MM77.9MM230MMGS-205B Plus/GS-205B Pro

Is A Tumbler Heat Press Worth It?

Answering this question can be quite challenging due to the abundance of noise and options in the market. However, to find the right solution, it’s crucial to consider two key factors: the costs involved and the potential earnings from owning a tumbler heat press machine. Luckily, we’ve already outlined and calculated the detailed expenses and potential profits per tumbler in our previous post on starting a tumbler business with a press machine.

If you invest in a reliable machine and acquire the necessary skills and resources to run the business effectively, you may see a quick return on your investment. However, if your goal is to make a substantial profit, you might need to have aspirations beyond reality or become proficient in various areas such as marketing, sales, or design. While the initial stages may present challenges, once you streamline the process, you’ll likely begin to witness a steady flow of income into your pocket over time.

Things to Know Before Sublimating A Tumbler

While tumbler sublimation printing is generally considered a straightforward process, there are a few essential aspects you should be aware of to ensure successful results. Let’s delve into some of these key considerations to help you navigate the process with confidence.

Sublimation Tumbler Blanks: Sublimation printing necessitates a specialized coating to effectively transfer designs onto surfaces. Therefore, business operators must procure sublimation tumbler blanks specifically designed for this purpose. General tumblers lack the necessary coating and therefore cannot be used for sublimation printing.

Image Mirroring: When utilizing printing techniques that involve transfer paper or film for design transfer, it’s essential to mirror the design images before printing onto the transfer medium. However, if you’re working with glass photo frames or similar transparent blanks, mirroring the image is not necessary in this scenario.

Best Settings: While suppliers may offer recommended settings for their blanks, it’s advisable to conduct a few print tests and calibrate the settings to achieve optimal results. To expedite the process of finding the ideal settings, you can begin by testing with the provided settings. It’s generally recommended to initiate testing with a lower temperature setting and gradually adjust until the desired outcome is achieved.

Heater Attachment: While many suppliers claim that their tumbler heat press machines can accommodate various shapes and sizes of drinkware, it’s important to note that different heater attachments are necessary for this versatility. Therefore, when procuring equipment for your business, ensure that you include the required heater attachments to encompass your current offerings and product line effectively.

Pressure Adjustment: Pressure and size adjustment represent a crucial yet intricate step in achieving high-quality prints that are marketable. Therefore, it’s paramount to utilize a tumbler press equipped with an efficient and precise pressure adjustment system for your business. While many tumbler press machines on the market rely on two screw bolts for adjustment, this method can prove exceedingly time-consuming and lead to discomfort in users’ hands after printing just a few tumblers. Fortunately, Galaxy has developed the innovative Ramslide® system, which simplifies the adjustment process to a mere pull and push motion. Moreover, it provides convenient scale marks for standard tumbler sizes such as 40oz, 30oz, 20oz, and 15oz, enabling users to quickly achieve the required pressure. For further insight into how this system operates, you can explore the details outlined in this post.

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2 Temperature Settings: One notable distinction between a tumbler press and a standard heat press machine is the requirement for two temperature settings (Pre-press & Printing Temperature) in the former, as seen in some models from suppliers. The pre-heating temperature is intended to maintain the heat press at this temperature, thereby saving users time while waiting for the temperature to reach the printing temperature for a new tumbler. This process involves preheating the heat press to the pre-press temperature setting, followed by inserting the tumbler or mugs. Subsequently, the heat press will resume heating to reach the printing temperature setting, after which the countdown timer will commence until the printing process is completed.

A Second Press: Because of the design of tumbler presses, there is typically a gap on the heater attachment, resulting in insufficient heat for this specific area. Therefore, to achieve perfect results, users often need to roll the tumbler a little bit to make sure all surface get fully transferred. This additional step ensures that all sides of the tumbler receive sufficient heat, leading to uniform and high-quality prints.

Tumbler Heat Press Settings

Among the crucial factors affecting printing results, the heat press settings, including temperature, time, and pressure, are three of the most significant considerations. These settings play a pivotal role in determining the quality and durability of the prints, especially when dealing with tumblers of various materials and shapes. Below are the recommended heat press settings for some of the most popular drinkware options (feel free to explore our comprehensive guide on heat press settings):

Stainless Steel TumblerPre-press Temperature: 160°C
Printing Temperature: 175°C
Ceramic MugsPre-press Temperature: 160°C
Printing Temperature: 190°C
Aluminum Water BottlePre-press Temperature: 160°C
Printing Temperature: 175°C
Glass TumblersPre-press Temperature: 160°C
Printing Temperature: 190°C

What Do You Need To Sublimate On Tumblers?

Embarking on sublimating tumblers requires acquiring several essential equipment and supplies to ensure a smooth and successful process. Let’s delve into the key items you’ll need to kickstart your sublimation journey.

Sublimation Printer: Printing transfers requires a sublimation printer. However, if you have another inkjet printer, you can still use it for transfer printing by switching to sublimation inks and papers instead of regular ones. Alternatively, if you prefer not to handle printing yourself, you can purchase ready-to-press transfer papers from online retailers.

Sublimation Tumbler Press Machine: A tumbler press machine is an essential tool for any thermal transfer printing technique, including sublimation printing. Finding the perfect fit for your business can be a challenging task, but you may find some helpful tips in our guide post.

Tumbler Blanks: In the market, you can easily find a wide variety of tumbler blanks with various designs and functions. However, it’s essential to ensure that the blanks are equipped with a special coating specifically designed for sublimation printing. If your blanks lack a polymer coating, you may need to apply the coating yourself. However, this process requires a high level of skill to achieve an even coating and perfect printing results.

Sublimation Paper: Unlike the regular papers we use every day, transfer paper for sublimation is specially designed for this printing technique. While the cost of sublimation paper is very cost-effective, it’s important to use paper recommended by the supplier, as it can potentially deliver better results.

Sublimation Ink: Another essential supply is sublimation ink, specifically formulated for sublimation printing purposes. While it may be beneficial to use inks from the same supplier who provides your printer or transfer paper, it’s always advisable to conduct some tests to find the perfect combination for your needs.

How To Sublimate A Tumbler With A Heat Press: A Step By Step Guide

Compared to other printing techniques, sublimation printing stands out as one of the easiest methods, requiring fewer steps and less effort. The printing process involves several simple stages: preparing the design, printing the transfer, preparing the blanks, securing the transfer paper onto the blank, pressing the design onto the surface, peeling off the transfer sheet, and conducting a final inspection.

Prepare Design Artwork: Prior to designing your image for the blanks, it’s important to download design templates from the tumbler blank suppliers’ website. For instance, the provided design template file for our tumbler features a designated printing area highlighted in blue. Ensure that your design is placed within this area and delete or hide the template layer lines before printing to ensure optimal printing results.

Template File

Print Out Your Design: Once you’ve created and mirrored your design, it’s time to print it out. Investing in high-quality supplies is crucial, as they significantly impact the final results. To ensure optimal results, consider testing various supplies from different suppliers. While this may require some effort initially, finding the best combination of supplies will pay off in the long run and greatly benefit your business.

Prepare the Tumbler: If you are using a tumbler without coating, you may find it necessary to apply the coating yourself, although this approach is not typically recommended. Alternatively, if you are using a coated tumbler, it’s essential to start by cleaning the surface thoroughly to remove any water or stains. Failure to do so could result in gaps between the sublimation paper and tumbler blanks, potentially leading to printing failures.

Secure the Transfer: Now it’s time to secure the transfer paper on tumbler surface with heat-resistant tape. Ensure a seamless transition between the transfer paper and the tumbler’s edges for an even design transfer. Smooth out any wrinkles to ensure direct contact and apply firm pressure to secure the paper tightly, preventing gaps. Be cautious to avoid overlapping, which can disrupt pressure distribution and compromise print quality.

Press the Tumbler: Pressing the tumbler requires careful attention to detail, with testing the settings being the most crucial aspect until perfect results are achieved. Begin with a lower temperature setting and be prepared to conduct a second press if the printing area is not fully covered. Consider using protective gear while operating the machine, or alternatively, roll the mugs to ensure even heat distribution. Monitor the pressing process closely to ensure smooth progress, and be prepared to adjust settings or make necessary corrections as needed.

Peel Off the Transfer Paper: After allowing the tumbler to cool completely, carefully peel off the sublimation paper carrier sheet at a slight angle, using a slow and precise motion to ensure full and even adhesion of the printed design without damaging the surface.

Final Inspection: During the final inspection of sublimation prints, check for accurate colors, sharpness, and clarity, ensuring even coverage without smudging or imperfections. Verify secure adhesion to the tumbler surface, inspect for missed spots, and assess durability by lightly testing for ink resistance to wear. Step back to review the overall appearance, considering factors like alignment and aesthetics to ensure the prints meet quality standards.

If any issues are found during the final inspection of sublimation prints, such as color discrepancies, blurriness, or smudging, troubleshoot by adjusting printing settings or pressing conditions as needed. For missed spots or areas of poor adhesion, consider repressing the tumbler with increased pressure or longer press time. Address any durability concerns by exploring alternative ink or substrate options. If alignment or aesthetic issues are detected, adjust design placement or printing techniques accordingly for future prints. Regularly monitor and refine your sublimation process to consistently achieve high-quality results.


In conclusion, mastering the art of sublimation tumbler heat press machine opens up endless possibilities for personalized creations. With the right tools and techniques, you can turn ordinary tumblers into stunning works of art. Whether you’re starting a business or just indulging in a creative hobby, the versatility and efficiency of a sublimation tumbler heat press machine make it a worthwhile investment. So, don’t hesitate to dive in and explore the world of sublimation printing—it’s sure to be a rewarding journey. Ready to embark on your sublimation journey? Get your hands on a sublimation tumbler heat press machine and let your imagination run wild!

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