Making sublimation tumblers?! Learn how to use tumbler heat press with these step by step instructions for a PYD Life press.
Y’all I haven’t done a tumbler tutorial in a while! So when PYD Life reached out to me to see if I’d like to check out their new 2 in 1 tumbler press for sublimation, I said Heck Yeah!
There are a lot of different ways out there to sublimate tumblers including using a convection oven, sublimation oven, and even a heat gun and shrink wrap but I’ve wanted to try a tumbler heat press for a while since it seems the easiest!
So for this post, I’ll be walking you through setting up the Pro Max tumbler heat press and then how to sublimate skinny 20 oz tumblers with it.
I know I have another sublimation tumbler tutorial, but that one was all about using the Cricut mug press for sublimation which still works, but takes much longer.
This tumbler press sublimates in just a few minutes and has a ton of different sized heaters that you can get for different size and shaped tumblers and mugs.
PYD Life Tumbler Press Setup
I received the 19cm Pro Max 2 in 1 tumbler press in teal (my favorite color too!) with the second heating attachment. The machine itself is not very heavy and is 41 cm deep and 30 inches wide.
The box I received already had a heater inserted in the press that works with tumbler diameters of 6-7 inches (BD20S) and the second one for larger tumblers in another box (hence why it’s 2 in 1!).
The heating attachments (kind of like heat presses) are long cylindrical tubes with padding inside and are removable to allow for different sized heating elements.
This size works great for the sublimation glass skinny tumbler, but it is not large enough for the 20 oz straight skinny tumbler. The second heating element in the box was the BD30, which fits the double walled stainless steel skinny tumblers and sublimation glass cans.
The PYD Life tumbler line has about 13 different heating attachments that you can purchase separately to sublimate anything from conic mugs, straight mugs, straight tumblers, and small 3 oz mugs, to a stemless wine glass. The Pro Max is the only one that works with the large heater that can accommodate a tumbler with a diameter up to 10 cm.
Because there are so many different sized coffee mugs to tumblers, it’s hard to just have one attachment for everything. If you are only wanting to do a sublimation mug, then one of the smaller heaters would work. But you can also put two of the same size coffee mugs into one of the larger heaters and press mugs at the same time!
To switch out the tumbler heater, make sure the tumbler press is turned off and cool. The heating elements get very hot!! The front of the tumbler heat press machine stays cool to the touch, but be very cautious when touching anywhere around the heat plates.
Unplug the connector cable on the side of the tumbler press machine.
Then unscrew all eight screws and take them out.
Slide the heater out from either side and slide the new heater in, making sure the holes line up on the heater and the press.
Fix it in place with all the screws and plug the connecting cable back in. It’s ready to go!
My press was already in Fahrenheit degrees, but if you want to convert to degrees Celsius, long press the “set” button on the control panel for 5 seconds. Then press the up or down arrow to switch between C and F. Long press the “set” button again for 5 seconds to save the setting.
Supplies Needed with Tumbler Heat Press
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links from Shareasale, Cricut, Awin, CreativeFabrica, and Amazon.com. I receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase using my links (purple text). As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
If you’ve been doing sublimation printing on hats or shirts for a while, then you might have most of the items you need. But here are my favorites and what I used for these sublimation skinny tumblers and cans.
- Tumbler Heat Press 2 in 1
- Compatible Sublimation Tumblers (you can NOT just use any blank tumblers, they must be sublimation tumblers that have a special poly coating)
- Sublimation printer (or converted sublimation printer like I have) with Hiipoo sublimation ink OR you can use Cricut Infusible Ink sheets cut with a Cricut machine
- Sublimation paper
- heat resistant tape
- heat-resistant gloves
- protective paper or butcher paper cut to size or teflon sheets
- paper trimmer (recommended) or scissors
- sublimation designs (full wraps or just images) – I get mine over on Creative Fabrica
Make sure to keep the user manual with whichever tumbler heat press you have because the temperature settings and time settings might vary slightly. Rip out the table and tape it to your press if needed! And keep in mind that not all sublimation blanks are created equal. The settings are usually specific to a certain brand, so if you don’t get a perfect press, that might be the reason.
The ceramic/glass/plastic mugs take the longest at 280 seconds while the stainless steel tumblers take only 60 seconds (this machine has a time range from 0-999 seconds). All at 356 degrees F or 180 Celcius.
Note: The tumbler press does not fully cover a tumbler or mug. So if you are pressing on a full design wrap, you’ll need to rotate it 180 degrees and press it a second time.
If you are just pressing a smaller PNG image on one side, then you’ll just need to press once. PNG or PDF formats are preferred for sublimation printing.
Designing and Printing Sublimation Images
When it comes to full tumbler wraps, printing the correct size is going to depend on what software you use and your printer settings.
I printed out a bunch of images in black and white on my regular printer to finally get the size that worked well for my tumbler and printer software (taking margins into account). So you will definitely need to play around with it and see what works for you and then save that template for the future!
My favorite way to do it is with Canva.com. I click on Create a Design on the top right and set the size in inches to what my tumbler measures (height and all the way around as width).
I do add .25 for margins, but again this was something I had to mess around with and print on draft mode in black and white til I got it right. 9.8 x 8.5 inches worked best for my 20 oz skinny tumbler.
A blank rectangle will open up. Upload the design you want to use on the left side and click and drag it over to the rectangle. It should automatically fill the space. You can click on it and move it around a bit if you want.
NOTE: If you have anything with words or directionality in your design, you need to flip the design horizontally OR select “mirror setting” when printing). This is where I like to do that since I can never find the mirror setting in my printer settings. On the top toolbar, click on Flip and then Flip horizontally.
Then I save the image as PDF Print and then CYMK color. I do have a Pro account, so I’m not sure this last part is free if you don’t. You can always save it as a PNG and then work with your printer settings or another software to get the size correct.
Then when I open up the PDF file, I leave my printer settings at default (which is the size I made it in Canva) and print on high quality.
If you are just printing out a single image, you can just use the printer settings and select image size of 2×3 or 3×5 inches to fit your mug and not have to worry about using Canva (unless you need to Flip and can’t figure out how to turn on mirror setting in your computer settings like me!).
Another option for the full wraps which are just designs (and not seamless patterns), is to print it out on a full page (fill the page setting) and then just cut it with a trimmer to fit your mug or tumbler. You don’t want too much overlap of colors because they can bleed into each other.
So again, the printing part is really dependent on the software you are comfortable with and the printer drivers on your laptop or desktop. I have a PC so things might be different for a Mac!
So let’s get started on using the tumbler heat press!
- The first thing you'll want to do is to adjust the pressure. While the press is off and still cool, place the tumbler or mug you will be pressing into the tumbler press and close. To change the pressure you'll need to turn the big knobs on the top - to the right or clockwise to loosen and to the left or counter clockwise to tighten (change them the same amount so the plate stays even). With the press closed, you want the tumbler snug and for there to be a bit of resistance when you try to close the handle. Not enough that it feels like it will crack, but enough that the tumbler will not be able to move. Once you have the pressure, you won't need to keep changing it unless you switch to a different tumbler type.
- Preheat the tumbler press to the settings specific to your tumbler. First, push the on button on the side of the machine. To set the PYD Life, push the set button, then use the arrows to change the temperature. I set mine to 356F and pressed set again. Then I changed the time to 60 seconds with the arrow buttons and pressed "set" again. The Press will start heating up to the desired temperature.
- While the press is heating, now is a good time to print out your sublimation design. As stated above, I like to use Canva to size and flip or mirror image my design. Then I save it as a PDF best for printing and print on my Epson ET-2850 default settings on sublimation paper. The image will print out dull! That's what's supposed to happen, the heat is what activates the color to become vibrant. I use a paper trimmer to trim off the excess paper so that I'm left with a rectangle with very straight lines.
- Prepare the tumbler or mug for sublimation by cleaning it with rubbing alcohol (and allowing to fully dry) or using a lint roller over it to get any grease or hair that might have gotten on it. With the print side facing the tumbler, wrap the paper around the tumbler securing it into place with heat resistant tape. You can place the tumbler on a table and wrap it around to ensure that it is straight. Make sure it is snug! Add a piece of heat resistant tape to the bottom to ensure the paper won't move (this can cause ghosting).
- Now wrap the paper wrapped mug in a piece of butcher paper cut to size and again secure it will heat-resistant tape. This helps protect your press from ink bleeding through and staining it.
- When the press is at the correct temperature, insert the wrapped tumbler from one of the sides. Be very careful of the silver part of the press, IT WILL BE EXTREMELY HOT!! I recommend using heat resistant gloves when using your tumbler sublimation press. Center it in the press and shut the handle. To make it easy to know what part didn't get pressed, place the tape side up or draw a little line on the paper with a pencil. You'll notice the press does not fully enclose the tumbler. There will be a few centimeters at the top where you can see the paper. This is why you'll need to rotate the tumbler and press it one more time.
- When the timer goes off, open the press and with gloved hands, rotate the tumbler 180 degrees and close the again. The timer will automatically start each time the handle is pressed down. When the timer goes off again, release the handle and carefully remove the tumbler from one side or the other (with gloves!).
- Place on a heat press mat and let cool for a few minutes or until you can remove the paper without it being too hot to handle. Then oohh and aaahh over how cool your new tumbler looks!
See the post for details about products I recommend and software to get the correct print size!
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Aren’t the skinny sublimation tumblers so pretty??!!
I love the subtle colors of this full-wrap flamingo tumbler. Perfect for summer and beach time!
Dolphins have always been my favorite, so I had to make a dolphin tumbler and I am in LOVE!!
The colors came out so beautiful on this frosted glass tumbler.
And ready for the 4th of July!
Still am a huge gnome fan too!
And of course, the one I showed you! It sparkles beautifully in the light. It’s almost like having a glitter tumbler without spending two days making it, lol!
I hope this post helped answer most of your questions. I think this press would be great for small businesses that sell sublimation tumblers.
Once you figure out print settings and the pressure settings, pressing can go pretty quickly when you are doing all of the same time tumblers or mugs!
Thanks for stopping by and have a creative day!