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topic 46505

Sublimation Coating Formula

1 2

A discussion started in 2007 & continuing through 2017

September 4, 2015

Q. I have a sublimation printer, inks & paper and heat press. Can I sublimate things that are not sold as sublimatable? For example- a piece of wood. Do I need to coat it with a clear coat or such before I can transfer onto it? What is recommended temp and time for wood? Thank y'all for any help!

Carrie Buse
- Tupelo, Mississippi, USA

September 12, 2015

A. It usually all boils down to being all about the research and reasoning things out doesn't it? I also am just now getting started with sublimating tiles and other ceramics. The suggestion of using clear coat made sense to me, so I decided to do it the easy way and do the research myself.

There are basically three kinds of automotive clear coat. There's the (ACRYLIC) spray can that you buy at Walmart, (which I wouldn't hold out much hope for), a URETHANE based clear coat that mixes in two parts, a resin and a hardener (three if you count the reducer), and a POLYESTER (not polyurethane) based clear coat, which also uses reducer and hardener. Of the three, the urethane MAY sublimate, or it my not. I just don't know.
The polyester though is by definition what you need to sublimate. It makes a very tough polyester coating used for automotive and marine applications where wear & tear are the norm. Of course it's not what you need for apparel, but it should be good for any hard substrate like ceramics, porcelain, metal, hardboard, wood, stone, etc. It cures by a chemical reaction, not heat, so no oven time is required. There's also a product called "DOLPHIN GLAZE Self-Leveling Polyester amadeya42", that you can get from Amazon that looks interesting.
I believe that the gel coat used for fiberglass is also a polyester compound that would have to be painted on with a brush or applicator of some kind.
Again, I'm no expert. I'm just now getting geared up to try some of this. I'm just passing on what I've learned from my research. I also got some Dyepress to try. The thing that bothers me about Dyepress though is that it's water based, and being a woodworker first I know that polyester resins and water don't get along very well. I've also heard reports about the release paper sticking to dyepress coated objects. I'll try it and we'll see.
Professional people will use professional products, and my money is on the polyester clear coat as the one that the professional don't want you to know about. I'll let you know what I find out as I try it, or if someone else tries, pass on the information.

Peter DeBrucque
- Greer South Carolina USA

October 1, 2015

thumbs up sign Peter,
I found your post most helpful! Thank you for sharing. How did your trials turn out?
We are looking into sublimation on wood.
Thank you!

Amber Michele
Signs - Texas USA

October 2015

A. Hi Carrie. I have never done sublimation and can only respond from my book knowledge, but maybe even that is better than an unanswered question :-)

The idea behind sublimation is that the ink on your paper sublimates (turns to gas rather than liquid) when you heat it. If the paper is pressed against a substrate that can absorb it, it will. Thus, I think that the required temperature & time are defined by the sublimation ink manufacturer rather than the substrate.

I don't think natural materials like wood or cotton are good at absorbing the gaseous ink. I think you need a clear coat as described by others, including Peter, just above. Good luck.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

January 25, 2016

A. I am trying out some today. I know this thread is old but no one really answered it. It was a bunch of jumping around.

I been using a company out of Arizona since we started a year ago. The coating supply we bought lasted us a year (about 80 dollars worth). We are currently doing glass and blanks are now more affordable than ever before. We do t-shirts metal tags and even have our own type of dog tags made for paracord and are the only company in the paracord company offering our ideas to clients. No one wants to invest in sublimation when shoe lace charms are so ready available. Well shoelace charms cost about a dollar and your print time and glue (that's expensive glue to hold). We can press one out for about 60 cents that tag and all its more durable than shoelace which if you don't glue correctly it pops off and ruins the project.

Anyway, today I'm trying a new coating. As I learned it's all part of the poly family so I got polyurethane clear coat yesterday. Will spray. let it dry, and then plan on a small heat time cause it's glass. So I'm thinking 1:30 seconds at 300 because it will already be dry just need to bake the coating on or bond it together. Then I will use my transfer at 300 for 1:30 as well. Well image comes out great on my first glass. I tried now I'm just trying to see if it can be sustainable (smooth finish with no streaks and I'm not having to use a paint sprayer or load a hopper to paint it). Rather just spray on out of a can instead of mixing putting on and have runs in the clear coat or streaking.

Aaron keen
- Seminary Mississippi USA

January 27, 2016

Q. Hi everyone I have been going through the thread; I was trying to do printing on EVA foam (from which Flip-Flops/Thongs/slippers are made). After searching a lot I found that it can be done with sublimation printing.

But I have some confusion will the listed primer/sublimation coating work good on flexible material like EVA? I heard some people use Loctite from Henkel but don't know if that can work. Your experience and some shadow on this might help me, thanks.

Bboy lingham
- Melbourne,Australia

March 31, 2016

Q. Hi,
1. When applying clearcoat should we also apply the hardener for it?

2. If so: How long should we leave the tile to cure? Or is there an alternative (quicker) method to cure?

3. If not: How long should we leave the tile to cure? Or is there an alternative (quicker) method to cure?

4. In 3D vacuum machine, when placing the print on the tile for sublimation - what temperature and time setting should we assign?

Please advise.

Prem kumar
- Colombo, Sri Lanka

March 2016

A. Hi Prem. I think you may be misunderstanding the meaning of the word "hardener" in this context. There are two general types of clearcoats:
- "single component" clearcoats, where water or solvent evaporates in the air or in an oven, or UV radiation cures the coating, leaving a solid coating behind.
- "two pack" or "2k" or "two component" clearcoats where nothing evaporates; instead, the two components chemically react with each other to produce a solid hard coating. Sometimes the two components are called "part A" and "part B"; but sometimes (and it's confusing) people will call "part A" the clearcoat and "part B" the hardener ... but they're really just A and B, and there is only sticky syrup, no clearcoat, until the two parts mix and react. Once they are mixed they harden fast, somewhere between 10 minutes and 2 hours depending on the components and the mixing ratio.

That should answer questions 1, 2, and 3. Sorry I don't know the answer to number 4 but suspect it depends upon the sublimation ink, the press design, the pressure, the coating you are sublimating onto, etc.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

April 7, 2016

Q. Thank you for your feedback, I did run an experiment by applying a 2 part clear coat on the ceramic (gloss) tile, allowed it to cure for 24 hours and then I sublimated a print on it at the temperature of 200 degrees for 6 minutes, the image came out pretty well but there were some problems that came along with it. They were:

1. glossy finish was compensated, it looked as if it's semi-matte.
2. there was a paper trail on top of the print sublimated, which I fear is what makes the print look matt (but I can live with that).
3. I also tried some testing on the sublimated ceramic tile:
a) I tried pouring water on the ceramic tile and the tile tolerated the water spill, so it's a pass.
b) I also tried spilling some thinner on the printed tile, but the print did not hold well, it slightly stained out, so it's a FAIL!
c) While doing this I noticed the clear-coat peeling off the ceramic tile like a transparent sticker, EPIC FAIL!!

Now my main concern out of this list above is the peeling off and the inability to withstand thinner; I believe clear-coat can hold thinner without an issue, but this gave me an opposite result. What do you think I did wrong? Peeling off is my main concern since we spend a lot on the clear coat, et.c just to see the image peel off is disappointing. The question that came up was: is the glossy ceramic tile's surface too smooth to hold on to clear coat? Have I missed something here? I would really appreciate your thoughts on this.

Thank you.

Prem Kumar [returning]
- Colombo, Sri Lanka

April 2016

A. Hi Prem. I'm just the website administrator with some general knowledge of metal amadeya42. I've never even attempted sublimation coatings. Hopefully another reader will offer help.

But "thinner" is a very broad term. The first google link I followed offered Thinner 5, Thinner 222, Thinner 290, Thinner 308, Thinner 316, Thinner 357, Thinner 616, Thinner 902, Thinner 909, Thinner 990, and Thinner 995, all based on different solvents, as their basics. So what do you mean by "thinner"?


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

April 13, 2016

Q. Hi I was wondering if anyone has any more answers on how to use the sublimation coating spray? Does it harden the cotton quite a bit? I'm interested in doing full t-shirt prints and don't want the cotton to look synthetic.

ruth viljoen
hag moon - south africa

April 22, 2016

thumbs up signI read about the automotive clear coats, tested a few, didn't have good results and then I read the suggestion about polyurethane. I bought a can of Minwax fast drying polyurethane clear gloss. Three coats on a sublimation license plate, using a 3D vacuum sublimation heat press with the temperature set at 185 and the time at 2 minutes 30 seconds.

46505-1a 46505-1b 46505-1c

Guess what ... it worked fantastically! Now I did have to put a automotive clear coat over it to make it bright and shiny like you would get from a sublimation plate.

Jeff johnson
The Print Shop - Lake Charles

May 31, 2016

Q. Dear Sir:
hope not to disturb you, I'm trying to remove the ink after sublimation and I have tried many solvents such as benzene and acetone and others, but they didn't work. I hope if there is some solvent that is able to remove the ink without removing sublimation coat.
Thank in advance.

Ali Alkaraly
- Ismailia, Egypt

August 23, 2016

A. Dear Alkaraly,
Before, thinner used with success for the removal of ink. After, I switched to ethanol 98% successfully also. Put the pieces in a closed container with alcohol and wait some 24 hours and then scrub with a sponge. The ethanol is low cost in Brazil; it's a renewable product, and less toxic.

Eugênio Leite
- Juazeiro do Norte, Ceará, Brasil

July 24, 2016

thumbs up signHi all,
Thanks Ted Mooney and others, I try it using polyurethane varnish. Result is OK. I apply it to wood from using paint brush. Dry 2 days and heat press 180 seconds in 320 °C heat.
thanks again all.

Amal Ishantha
- Nawalapitiya, Sri Lanka

August 18, 2016

thumbs up signHi, I am Ruth and live in England and am new to this forum. I have tried on and off for a number of years to make my own sublimation blanks and have had very little success.
I have tried Digicoat opaque and white coatings with a little success, white did not work as when heated blisters popped up all over the surface, the opaque had better results but nothing spectacular. I was very interested to read about the min wax but could not get hold of it here. I bought a can of Valspar quick drying clear gloss and hoped for the best! Tried 3 coats and all I ended up with the sublimation paper stuck to the blank (sandstone with a finely ground level surface) and no ink transfer. Tried again with the 3 coats then cleaned the stone with Digicoat adhesive promoter (blank was a bit sticky afterwards but don't worry) then used the Digicoat opaque coating as per instructions on the can and used my 3D vacuum heat press for 2 X 8 minutes and the result was very good. Some colours work better than others, did not have much luck with blues and purples, this may have something to do with the fact that the stones came out of my oven quite golden after heating with the Digicoat even though they went in clear!
Thank you so much to the person who mentioned the minwax, I would never have thought about it had I not read about it here.


Ruth Longstaff
- Darlington, County Durham, England

September 1, 2016

Q. Hi sir,
I am sharath; I have take up sublimation printing recently. But when we take out the print, the colors are not exposing correctly in the output. Can you say how to set the color for the picture in photoshop?

k sharath
- karimnagar, telangana, india

July 10, 2017

A. Sharath,

The color gamut for sublimation ink does not match the printer cmyk gamut.

Victor Lui
- San Francisco, California, USA

November 4, 2016

thumbs up signI read all of this thread and found it very interesting as well as helpful as I am just about to embark on starting to work with sublimation. I appreciate all of the comments and will continue to watch this site for more helpful information as I go along.

Gwen Rieout
- Woodstock,NB Canada

May 16, 2017

A. Hi all. First off I read the posts form all around globe, I found a place to get a 2 part gloss, semi gloss and fabric coat and all are water clean up and thinning.
These people say they ship all over world. Just google Dyepress.

Rick Collins
- Moreno Valley California USA

May 11, 2017

A. Try pva glue and water.

yun sy
- china

May 31, 2017

A. You can get single part (no mixing) water and solvent based Sublimation Coating in india which is similar to dyepress coating. You can contact NR Printz (Mysore).

Nithin rathod
- Mysore, karnataka,india

June 6, 2017

I have tried the polyurethane clear gloss but after a few washes it faded. After looking at some reviews and redoing my process this is what I came up with:

Spray two coats of polyurethane (let them fully dry between coats -- about 30 min). After 2nd coat let it sit for 48 hours, then wipe down with rubbing alcohol. I set my heat press to 300 for 130 seconds. Remove and let fully cool down. I sprayed automotive clear coat twice, again letting dry between coats. Let sit for 48 hours and love results. Also for those items to eat and drink from, instead of automotive clear coat I sprayed on "mod podge" dishwasher safe for ceramics (use a sprayer to avoid streaks). Hope this helps.

Ivonne Guevara
Ivonne's hobbies - Imperial Beach, California

July 10, 2017

A. Ricky Collin,

Dyepress can be tried on other substrates, but not mugs, they have no SDS/MSDS.

Victor Lui
- San Francisco, California, USA

June 24, 2017

Q. We are looking for a way to coat the very popular double wall insulated stainless steel cups. After reading through this thread, I am thinking that we could possibly spray the cup with some of these suggestions and then use the mug press to put the design on. At least I THINK that's what I got out of these questions. I am a bit confused as to if I would need to put the cups in the oven to cure before trying to sublimate. ANY help is appreciated.

Sunny Hazlett
Bunny's Emporium - Lake Wales, Florida USA

July 10, 2017

A. Sunny,

Have you considered the poison, chemical and heavy metal problem? Please do not do it in that way, you might hurt people.

Victor Lui
- San Francisco, California, USA

July 4, 2017

Q. Hi. I did research on the net and found one or two products.
First one is Sublicoat A+B from MANOUKIAN, (eptanova.com/en/series-product/sublicoat-ab)

When I did search in the German language the results said as long as the coating is Polyester based (at least 80%) it will work perfectly. It needs to be 2-component system. I know it is quite the opposite of what the gentleman from Latin America said. I want to coat Aluminium sheets and on metals, polyester seems a better choice than urethane.

Levent Ocal
- Antalya Turkey

July 10, 2017

A. My personal opinion is: For a good sublimation result, using good sublimated ink, paper and printer is essential. Marketable sublimation blanks might be expensive, I strongly believe that the results are better than homemade ones, because we lack all necessary equipment.

I did try to sublimate coat by myself with two component chemicals brought from the market by spraying, it worked, but, it is hard to make a completely smooth surface. To me, for business point of view, the customer will not like it, Recently, I tried with screen printing with 120 grit, the coating is not thick enough.

So, my opinion is, if you want to be in sublimation business, use the proper equipment. You can see our products we printed for demonstration at memories1314.com; these are all real printed products.

Victor Lui
- San Francisco, California, USA

August 11, 2017

A. I have been dye sublimating images and pictures on all kinds of substrates including metal and wood for years. A manufacturer of sublimation coatings for industry is RN Coatings. Rich Neely is (was) the owner and chemist that developed the formula. His coating is used on ceramic mugs produced in china and elsewhere. They have (had) several coating plants in the US including Phoenix. I believe his coatings are 2 part polyester and you can add matte flakes to change to a satin finish if desired. A google search will yield his contact information.

Michael Gault
- Richmond, Texas, USA

Sublimation coatings on wood

August 22, 2017

I'm experimenting a new product, SUBLIMATION ON WOOD.
I have tons of questions on my mind to get clarified.

1. To get coated, what kind of hardwood is preferable(Low Cost)?
2. Does thickness of the wood matter?
3. How long do we have to wait to get the substrate cured? [I bought all types Dyepress (natural + Gloss + satin + White) Material]
4. Does the coated wood need to get preheated in a convection oven, before heat pressing?
5.Why preheat the coated wood?
6.What's the Best practice to place the wood in the Heat Press? (Coated wood, transfer Paper, Teflon sheet, Hard Sponge)
7. After inserting in Heat Press, How could we match Pressure, Temperature and press Time? Does it differ for each type of wood, color ?

Respond even you know any one of the above questions or all (I appreciate). That helps me and many others here.

- Many Thanks in Advance

Naveen Andrews
- Telangana, India

August 23, 2017

A. Hi, Naveen

1/ The wood they use is MDF;
2/ I think thickness does matter;
3/ You must experiment on your own;
4/ I do preheat the wood;
5/ to prevent vapor evaporation;
6/ try and error, no one will tell you the answer, we all spend a lot of money to get the answer;
7/ same as 6

Victor Lui
- San Francisco, California, USA

November 2, 2017

Try SubTHAT!, a film that is transferred to a surface to make it dye sublimatable.

IKONICS Corporation - DULUTH, Michigan, USA

November 3, 2017

Q. I want to know how can we remove fresh sublimation coating from ceramic mugs?

vasu manvar
- Gujarat, India

December 10, 2017

A. Hi, Vasu. Use N. C. Thinner and 600 sand paper.

Ajay kumar
- Delhi, india

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