When researching sublimation printing, you may encounter terms like Cricut or Cricut machine. You may not know the terms if you haven’t done much sublimation printing. So, how does Cricut relate to sublimation, and can you do sublimation with Cricut?
Cricut machines help with some parts of the sublimation process, but Cricut devices don’t do sublimation printing. Cricut only makes cutting machines and heat presses. You will still need a sublimation printer, which Cricut does not make.
In this post, we explore whether you can perform sublimation by only using tools and machines from Cricut. We also consider how Circuit machines help the sublimation process and what other things you need other things to perform sublimation.
What Is Cricut?
Cricut manufactures machines for creative arts and crafts. Their cutting machines cut media into shapes as set by the computer. Cricut also offers a range of mini mobile heat presses.
Cricut, an American brand, makes products that assist home or small business-level arts and crafts work. These products include computer-assisted cutting plotters, mini heat presses, accessories, and consumables.
Cricut works well for vinyl-based work, such as stickers, decal design, and printing. Designers design stickers, print them on a sheet of sticker paper, and then feed them into a Cricut machine to cut out smoothly outlined shapes needed.
T-shirt printers also love Cricut machines. Similar to stickers and decals, they first design and then print out the design on a sheet of the vinyl transfer sheet.
The sheet then feeds into a Cricut machine to create a smooth cut. Then, the design heat transfers to a t-shirt using a heat press.
Is it Possible To Sublimate With Cricut?
You may perform part of the sublimation process with a Cricut. Cricut only makes some of the tools and materials you need to complete the sublimation.
For the sublimation process, you will need a list of tools and materials. Cricut only makes the computer-assisted cutting machine and heat presses. Cricut also offers consumables such as heat transfer vinyl (HTVs) and heat-resistant tape.
Depending on the substrate you are printing on, you may not even need the computer-assisted cutting machine. You won’t need one if you do not need to cut out the background because you are sublimating using a sublimation paper.
Usually, you only need a cutting machine when sublimating using a heat/vinyl transfer sheet (HTV).
You still need at least a few more tools and materials to be able to perform sublimation.
What Other Tools and Materials Do You Need To Sublimate With Cricut?
Aside from the Cricut cutting machine, HTV sheet, heat press, and heat-resistant tape, you will still need other things. These are a sublimation printer, sublimation ink, a sheet of sublimation paper, two large sheets of parchment paper, and the substrate you intend to sublimate to.
To perform sublimation in its entirety, you will need several more things that Cricut does not provide. They are:
A sublimation printer first prints out designs from your computer. You next sublimate the designs onto a sheet of HTV paper before transferring it to your substrate.
Sublimation printers are usually broken into two types: dedicated dye-sublimation printers or converted inkjet sublimation printers. Both printers can perform sublimation printing, but those who want better results prefer dye-sublimation printers.
If you’re looking to invest in a sublimation printer, you’ll want to know your options. Our list of the best dye-sublimation printers can help you make an informed decision.
And if you’re interested in getting your hands on a printer specifically designed for dye sublimation, you’ll want to do a bit of research first. Our guide on things to know about dye-sublimation printers can be a great resource to get you started.
Sublimation ink works with a sublimation printer and is printed on the sublimation paper. The ink then sublimates or penetrates to a substrate (print surface) of choice.
Sublimation ink differs from regular inkjet ink. It has a different chemical composition and works differently. Copy paper doesn’t absorb it like it does regular inkjet. When heated up, sublimation ink also turns into gas, unlike regular inkjet ink.
Understanding about sublimation ink can help you get better results. We’ve put together some essential tips and advice in our guide.
Manufacturers also create special sublimation paper, especially for the sublimation printing process.
Sublimation papers tend to be thicker than regular copier paper. It also has a special coating of silica-based film that will help to hold onto sublimation ink.
The quality of your sublimation paper is crucial for achieving great results. We’ve reviewed some of the best sublimation papers to help you make the right choice.
Sublimation papers also do not absorb the sublimation ink but merely hold it in place. When heated, the sublimation ink will turn into gas and travel to the substrate.
This means sublimation paper cannot be used like a regular copier paper. If you try to print inkjet ink onto the paper, it will not absorb the ink and may smear easily.
You might be wondering how a sublimation printer is different from an inkjet printer. Well, we’ve got that covered! Take a look at our sublimation printer vs inkjet article for a thorough comparison.
You use parchment paper as a backing paper between your heat press and your substrate. It helps to avoid heat being applied directly to the sublimation paper, which may cause uneven print results.
Parchment papers also help to absorb any spills or melted materials, like excess ink, when you overheat your substrate. You insert parchment paper right on top of the bottom heat plate and right at the bottom of the top heat plate.
In the end, you will need a substrate to sublimate to. Depending on the substrate, you may either sublimate directly or need an HTV sheet.
Polymeric materials such as polyester fabric or acrylic may be sublimated directly. In contrast, other materials may need to be sublimated indirectly using an HTV sheet.
How To Use Cricut During Sublimation?
To use Cricut during sublimation, you print out your design on a sublimation paper and then sublimate the design to a heat transfer vinyl (HTV). You then use the Cricut cutting machine to cut out a smooth outline. You can then use a Cricut heat press to heat transfer the vinyl layer to a substrate of your choice.
You might be wondering whether you can do sublimation on white HTV. Well, guess what? We’ve covered that topic, too! Check out our post on can you sublimate on white HTV for more details.
Cricut’s tools and materials are best used to perform an indirect sublimation using an HTV sheet.
Printers often do sublimation on HTV sheets for non-polymeric substrates because these surfaces cannot take sublimation ink directly. Common non-polymeric substrates include cotton, wood, metal, and glass.
Step-By-Step Guide On Using Cricut For Sublimation
The following steps will assume you are going to indirectly sublimate to a cotton t-shirt:
- Start by printing your design on a sheet of sublimation paper. Ensure to mirror the design before printing.
- While waiting for the printout to be ready, preheat your heat press to 350F° (177C°.)
- Now, place a sheet of parchment paper on top of the bottom plate of the heat press.
- Place the vinyl transfer sheet. Take note to place the glossier side face down, as that surface is used to attach to your cotton garment. The matted side should face up.
- Now, place your sublimation paper with the printed side facing down, meeting the vinyl transfer sheet. Use heat-resistant tape to secure both papers if you think you need to.
- Then, place another parchment paper on top.
- Close the lock in your heat press. Allow up to 2 minutes for the sublimation process to work.
- Remove everything and check the sublimation results.
- Now, cut up the areas on the transfer sheet that you do not want to be transferred to the shirt. Usually, these are background, unprinted areas of your design.
- After that, load your design into your Cricut creative space software and put in settings on where to cut. Feed your vinyl sheet into your Cricut machine and let it do its job.
- Check the cutting result. You may remove the unwanted vinyl from the sheet, leaving a transparent holding layer and the vinyl you intend to sublimate to your shirt.
- We will now prepare for the heat transfer process. To start, preheat your heat press to 350F° (177C°.)
- When the heat press is ready, prepare the cotton shirt by pressing it for 10 seconds. This removes all moisture and crease lines to ensure a good transfer.
- Now, place a sheet of butcher paper on top of the bottom plate of the heat press.
- Place your cotton shirt on top of the parchment paper, printed side up.
- Now, place the transfer sheet on top of the cotton shirt. Ensure the sheet is at your intended position. Use heat-resistant tape to secure the sheet to the shirt.
- Place another sheet of parchment/butcher before closing the heat press.
- Allow up to 1 minute for the heat transfer process to work.
- Wait until the sheet cools down before peeling off the holding layer.
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