How to Make Your Own Dye Sublimation Blanks and Material

Written by preston brady
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How to Make Your Own Dye Sublimation Blanks and Material
A paint sprayer and small air compressor to apply a dye sublimation coating (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Making your own blanks for imprinting in dye sublimation involves coating hard substrates. Once coated, the substrate will accept dye sublimation ink during a heating process. A soft substrate does not require a coating but has specific requirements for accepting sublimation ink under a heat press. The substrate must be polyester or a blend of synthetic materials. Purchase blanks ready to imprint or in bulk rolls for custom design.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Polyester coating
  • Hard noncoated substrate heat rated to at least 204 degrees Celsius
  • Paint sprayer
  • Air compressor
  • Light-coloured polyester material

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  1. 1

    Fill the paint sprayer with a clear polyester coating. Attach the sprayer to an air compressor to apply the coating to the selected substrate. Common substrates for use in the dye sublimation process are fibreglass re-enforced plastic (FRP), medium-density fiberboard (MDF), and ceramic tile. Since you are making your own blank, the substrate should be uncoated.

  2. 2

    Spray one coat of the liquid polyester onto the surface of the substrate. Allow to completely dry before applying a second coat. Do not touch the coated substrate. Allow at least two hours for the coating to completely dry. Apply a second coat.

  3. 3

    Test the product after the two coats of polyester liquid are dry. This is required. For example, imprint an image onto the finished substrate using a heat press with even, firm pressure. Or introduce the imprinted substrate into the environment it is intended for. If you are coating a "dishwasher safe" ceramic coffee mug, run the product through a dishwasher. If you are creating outdoor signs onto FRP, place a few samples of the finished product outside for several days.

    How to Make Your Own Dye Sublimation Blanks and Material
    Outdoor signs should be capable of withstanding the elements for a few years (Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images)
  4. 4

    Some items may require several coatings before an acceptable image will imprint. Experiment with heat press timing, temperature and pressure to achieve the best results.

  5. 5
    How to Make Your Own Dye Sublimation Blanks and Material
    (Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Tips and warnings

  • Test your product thoroughly before committing to mass production.
  • Do not leave coated substrates outside to dry. Wind and particles can ruin the coated product.
  • Once you begin spraying the substrate, maintain a steady distance and rhythm to the procedure.
  • If dye sublimation ink is not imprinting boldly to the product, it may need a thicker coat.
  • Never leave a closed heat press unattended.
  • Children should not be allowed near a heat press without adult supervision.

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