Sublimation Mugs Vs. Regular Mugs | The Best Option [2024]

Most beginner enthusiasts in sublimation printing are experimenting with different sublimation substrates. A substrate for sublimation printing always has a specific surface on which sublimation ink penetrates. After deep penetration and adherence, the sublimation ink forms a strong bonding. This results in producing personalized sublimation mugs with flawless aesthetics.

But, beginners in sublimation printing must clearly understand sublimation mugs vs. regular ones.

Therefore, today, I will clarify the difference between a sublimation mug and a regular mug and if you can sublimate on both mugs.

Difference Between Sublimation Mugs and Regular Mugs

There are various factors to consider as clear differences between sublimation and regular mugs. A sublimation mug has a special polymer coating with more durability and customizability than a regular mug.

Read more: Hippo vs Cosmos ink

Sublimation Mug Coating

The coating applied to sublimation mugs is typically a polymer-based coating specifically formulated for sublimation printing. The exact composition of the coating can vary among manufacturers, and they don’t share specific formulations publicly. It is generally optimized for sublimation printing to achieve the best color vibrancy, durability, and image clarity results.

However, the following coating properties make the mug’s surface capable of sublimation printing.

  • The coating is receptive to sublimation inks, allowing them to penetrate and bond with the mug’s surface. This ensures vibrant and long-lasting prints.
  • The coating is capable of withstanding the high temperatures of sublimation printing. It remains stable during the heating and transfer, preventing degradation and discoloration.
  • The sublimation coating provides a good bonding surface to the sublimation inks, ensuring that the transferred design adheres well to the mug’s surface. This helps to prevent fading, scratching, or peeling of the print.
  • The last factor is Smoothness, which enhances the design appearance and makes the sublimation print sharp and detailed.

Can you Sublimate a Regular Mug?

Sublimation printing is a popular method for applying beautiful designs on surfaces like leather, nylon, tiles, and mugs. However, not all mugs are suitable for sublimation printing. Many people wonder whether they can sublimate a regular mug or if they need to purchase a special sublimation mug. The answer to this question is no; you cannot sublimate a regular mug.

Sublimation requires a special coating on the surface of the mug for the ink transfer to take place. A Regular mug is made of ‘Fine China,’ and the surface is ceramic glaze. Regular mugs do not have special poly-coating, which means that the Ink will not adhere to the mug’s surface. This can result in a poor-quality transfer or no transfer at all. The sublimation print will fade out after a few washings. In addition, the heat required for sublimation can cause regular mugs to crack or break, which can be dangerous. So, you can only apply sublimation printing on some mugs.

If you want to sublimate a mug, purchasing a mug specifically designed for sublimation printing is important. These mugs have a special coating designed to bond with the sublimation ink, resulting in a high-quality transfer.

Read more: Water based vs. Plastisol ink

Can You Sublimate on Porcelain Mugs?

As already said, sublimation printing is typically suitable for specially coated items, and porcelain mugs are not usually coated with the necessary polymer coating for sublimation printing.

Sublimation coatings available in the market can be applied to porcelain mugs to make them suitable for sublimation printing. These coatings create a receptive surface for the sublimation inks to bond with, resulting in vibrant and long-lasting designs. Once the coating is dry, you can proceed with the regular sublimation process using a sublimation printer, sublimation inks, and a heat press machine.

These porcelain mugs have high firing temperatures, so they require a longer sublimation time and higher temperature than regular ceramic mugs.

Can you Use Infusible Ink on a Mug Without a Mug Press?

Infusible Ink is a type of Ink that is specifically designed for sublimation-like transfers onto compatible surfaces, such as sublimation mugs. Usually, a mug press applies the required design on sublimation mugs. Technically, attempting sublimation printing using Infusible Ink on a mug without a dedicated mug press is possible.

Here is a bit customized step–by–step method to sublimate on a mug without a mug press using infusible Ink to achieve the same professional results.

Step – 1: Design and Print

Create the desired design using Infusible Ink-compatible software. Print the design onto Infusible Ink Transfer Sheets using a sublimation printer.

Step – 2: Prepare the Mug and Preheat the Oven

Clean the mug thoroughly and ensure it is free from oils, residue, or dust. Preheat your oven to the specified temperature on the Infusible Ink Transfer Sheets or the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step – 3: Cut and Wrap

Carefully cut out your design from the transfer sheet. Wrap the design tightly around the sublimation mug, ensuring it is properly aligned and secured. You can use heat-resistant tape to hold the transfer sheet in place.

Step – 4: Oven Transfer

Place the wrapped mug on a baking plate or in a heat-resistant container, then place it in the preheated oven. Set the time and temperature instructions provided by the Infusible Ink manufacturer’s guidelines. The heat will cause the Infusible Ink to sublimate and transfer onto the mug.

Step – 5: Cool and Unwrap

Place the mug on a heat-resistant surface and allow it to cool completely. Once cooled, carefully remove the transfer sheet from the mug, ensuring not to smudge or damage the design.

Can You Sublimate on Ceramic Coasters?

Ceramic coasters are flat, circular discs made of clay that protect surfaces from water rings and other damage caused by condensation on drinks. They come in various shapes and sizes and can be decorated with different designs and patterns to match a room’s decor. Yes, you can sublimate on ceramic coasters. However, it is important to note that not all ceramic coasters are created equal. Some ceramic coasters may not be coated with the poly-coating needed for sublimation. Therefore, ensuring that the ceramic coasters you are using are suitable for sublimation is essential. Additionally, it is crucial to use the correct side of the coaster, as the backside of the coaster may not have the necessary coating for sublimation.

Read more: Remove sublimation ink form mugs

Can You Use Stoneware Mugs for Sublimation?

The answer is not a simple yes or no. It depends on the specific stoneware mug and its coating. When it comes to sublimation printing, not all mugs are created equal. Some stoneware mugs may be coated with a sublimation-friendly material, while others may not be suitable for sublimation at all.

Stoneware mugs are made from clay fired at high temperatures, resulting in a dense, durable material resistant to chipping and cracking.

They are a popular choice due to their durability and rustic aesthetic. However, before attempting to sublimate stoneware mugs, it’s important to understand whether they suit the process.

How Do I Print a Logo on a Mug?

Printing a logo on a mug is the best way to modify your drinkware or create a personalized gift. There are various methods to print a logo on a mug, each with pros and cons.

Some of the most popular methods include sublimation printing, and heat transfer, screen printing. Sublimation involves printing the logo onto a special transfer paper and using heat to transfer the image onto the mug. Heat transfer involves using a special vinyl material cut into the logo’s shape and then applying heat to the mug. Screen printing is a traditional method that involves pressing Ink through a stencil onto the mug.

Each method has its unique characteristics, and the choice of method will depend on your specific needs and preferences.


So, until now, you clearly understand the differences between a sublimation mug and a regular mug. If you are a beginner in the mug printing business, check the poly coating on the surface of the sublimation mug vs. the regular mug.

If the mug doesn’t have the required poly coating, the sublimation ink will not form a bonding. As a result, it will wash away after a few washes.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Does sublimation ink wash off mugs?

Yes, when the mug doesn’t have a polymer coating, sublimation ink will not adhere to the mug. So it will wash out of the surface.

What is the best mug for sublimation?

The ceramic mugs with glazed surfaces are the most suitable for sublimation printing.

Why is my sublimation mug faded?

It is due to incomplete bonding of sublimation ink with the polymer coating and over-curing. More temperature and time also cause the same problem. Check coating and time-temperature settings to avoid this issue.

What paper is best for sublimation mugs?

Nowadays, TexPrint DT Sublimation Paper is the perfect choice for mug sublimation. It is known as a mug sheet in the market and available in 5 different sizes, but the 4″ x 9.5″ is in trend.

Can you use inkjet printer for sublimation mugs?

Yes, you can. But inkjet printers must have the right sublimation ink for mug printing.

Can I use normal ink for mug printing?

No. Normal Ink in the printers is unsuitable for mug sublimation printing as it will wash out with detergent, oven, and dishwasher washing.

How long do sublimation mugs last?

Sublimation design on the mugs can last many years as it can withstand abrasion and high temperatures. Also, proper care is necessary to have a long life.

Why is my sublimation mug not crisp?

It is due to too much high temperature and pressure during the heat press step. As a result, the image becomes blurred at the corners and edges of the sublimation mug.

Leave a Comment