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Acrylic Sublimation Explained in Detail – 2022

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acrylic-sublimation

Sublimation is an incredible form of printing due to its versatile and diverse nature. You can print on a lot of different surfaces with amazing and beautiful results. One such way of producing artistic results is to do sublimation on acrylic surfaces. The sublimation printing that can be produced on an acrylic surface is beautiful and sharp and entirely fits the description of a fantastic decoration or accessory item.

The nature and fundamental outlook of sublimation on acrylic is pretty similar to other such surfaces. It is a pretty good and efficient business because of how good these objects can look when sublimated. So get to know all the important details about the acrylic sublimation printing process with this article.

What Is An Acrylic Surface:

Acrylic is a plastic surface that is pretty similar to glass in appearance. It is a stiff surface with incredible strength and clarity. What makes it great for sublimation is its ease of getting fabricated and bonding with adhesives and solvents. This makes sublimation print and ink easily attach with acrylic surface giving a proper and clear final print. It is also very durable and can take a lot more impact than glass does.

Things You Need: For Acrylic Sublimation

There are a few essential equipment and accessories that you will need before you can start sublimating on acrylic surfaces. Let’s review them:

Sublimation Printer:

Unsurprisingly, your most important and necessary requirement for any kind of sublimation printing is the best sublimation printer that is according to your needs. Try to make the best choice when purchasing a sublimation printer. If you already have one, then that’s one less item on the buy list.

Sublimation Ink & Paper:

Same as sublimation printers, they are a necessary requirement for sublimation printing. Special types of sublimation paper and quality sublimation ink are needed for sublimation printing. You can easily find a lot of options for both accessories.

Acrylic:

Acrylic Paints For Sublimation

As we are performing acrylic sublimation printing, you will need an acrylic surface or item. You can use both, a white surface or transparent acrylic. Vinyl can also be used to create a background on a transparent acrylic surface. Do use cast acrylic instead of extruded acrylic as sublimation is compatible with cast acrylic.

Heat Press:

For the pressing of the print on the acrylic or any other surface, a heat press is needed. The most recommended is the standard heat press machine. However, you can also use an easy press with not much decline in the results.

Vinyl:

A dependent accessory. Vinyl is not the most necessary item. You can use a vinyl background or as a more clean attaching surface for transparent acrylic. A colored vinyl can also give you a colorful background to work with.

Design Software:

Designing and adjusting the size of your print requires software. You can avoid this by getting a ready-made print, but if you are looking to do stuff yourself, you can use many kinds of design and sublimation design software for editing and for adjusting the size and other factors according to your needs.

Heat Tape & Butcher Paper:

A heating tape is always a welcome accessory to have when performing sublimation printing. It helps in keeping the paper and the surface together, and also, the tape is not affected by the heat due to the resistance feature. Butcher paper is also an important accessory. It prevents the print paper or the acrylic surface from getting affected by the heat from the heat press.

The Working Of Acrylic Sublimation

Now we will discuss the main topic of our discussion: the process of performing acrylic sublimation. As mentioned above, the basic steps are pretty similar to wood, canvas, or other kinds of sublimation done on such surfaces. Let’s get into the process:

1) The first thing you should be looking at is what your print needs to be. According to the size of your surface, you need to adjust the size of the paper print. Using the software, change the size of the print image according to the acrylic.

Do keep in mind to keep the size of the paper print larger than the acrylic. This prevents indentations from appearing on the acrylic if the print paper size is smaller than the acrylic surface.

2) The next step is to remove any kind of protective sheet that is on the acrylic. Remove any such sheet or covering as they can make your final print wrinkled or soft as heat affects these sheets.

3) Now do any extra work you want to do on your acrylic. You are either working with a white acrylic, a transparent one, or a transparent acrylic on which you have attached a vinyl as background. You can also use repositionable adhesive spray on the acrylic. Similarly, you can also use transparent vinyl on the acrylic.

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Don’t Forget To:

4) Cut the vinyl according to the acrylic size so you can remove the extra vinyl and use it later for another sublimation. You can use glitter with transparent acrylic to give a different attractive look to the final product.

Once this is done, attach the print paper and the acrylic with the image facing the acrylic. Use heat tape to keep them in the same place.

Read: Can You Sublimate on Acrylic

5) Wrap the two attached objects in butcher paper and place them in a heat press or the easy press with another set of butcher paper on both sides. Set the temperature to around 380-400 degrees with light to medium pressure and press it for approximately 60 seconds.

6) Remove the subject from the heat press. Be careful as the butcher paper and subject will be hot. You can use a bit heavy object to cool off the heat by putting it on the subject.

If you are looking to curve or bend your acrylic, this is the right time as the acrylic is soft due to the heat. Use a curved object and press the acrylic on it to give it the cylindrical curve. 

7) Once it has cooled off, remove the tape and the paper. Now the paper does stick to the acrylic when pressed with heat. Paper residue and marks are left when you remove the paper. To get rid of this paper stuck to the acrylic, you can use a water sponge to remove it or clean it with water in the sink. A magic eraser is also good to quickly remove the paper.

8) With the paper removed, you will have your sublimated acrylic.

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FAQ’s:

Acrylic is one of the easiest surfaces to sublimate on. The transfer of ink is incredibly clean and produces an excellent final acrylic product. Transparent, white-colored, or vinyl-covered acrylic can all be sublimated.

Yes, acrylic is based on polyester material which makes it compatible with sublimation. Moreover, acrylic is part of the plastic family but is from the lower plastic family compared to standard plastic.

A well-recommended setting for sublimation on acrylic blanks is around 365-400 Fahrenheit or 180-200 centigrade with a light to medium pressure.   

The main difference between them is that Cast acrylic is made when all the liquid materials are placed in the mold, left to dry, and become hard to form. This is why they have a more variable thickness. The cast is more pliable and flexible, and it can be found in more color varieties. It also has better resistance. With better clarity, it is more expensive.

Acrylic and glass look the same, but the most significant difference is their material constitution. Acrylic is plastic that appears transparent like glass but can also be found in white. As it is plastic, it can handle a lot more impact than glass. On the other hand, glass is made of silica. Your standard glass can break easily. However, there are ways to make it stronger.

Sublimation on glass, mugs, resins, and many other surfaces is possible, just like how it is easily done on acrylic.

These accessories are not necessary for the process to take place or for the sublimation to occur on the acrylic. Still, they are essential for all things to happen correctly. The tape keeps both the acrylic and the print paper together in the right place. The butcher paper protects both items from the heat that can damage the final product. Just like this, each accessory does play a role in making the process right.

You can easily find acrylic blanks on online e-commerce websites such as Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Heatpressnation, Sublimet, and more. You can also easily find acrylic blanks at your local market.

Final Words:

Acrylic sublimation is such an easy and fantastic form of sublimation printing. You can print beautiful prints on acrylic blanks, with the results being clean, sharp, mesmerizing to look at. With sublimation printing, acrylic can be converted into decoration items that you can gift to others, put in your rooms to make your room look even more satisfying. You can even create picture frames with this.

Their unique and beautiful look makes sublimation acrylic blanks really popular among people, which is why companies and local markets are always looking for such items. This makes acrylic sublimation an excellent startup business option too. Acrylic sublimation is an incredible form of art.


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