Art of sublimation has become so popular these days since it is an exciting and highly demanding activity. Many people are now serious in the sublimation business, and therefore a common question asked these days is: Can you sublimate on Acrylic? The simple answer is yes but It may be difficult if you are a beginner or do not know more about acrylic.
Acrylic is one of the most favorite sublimation substrates and you can sublimate on acrylic in many ways. If you are planning to make personalized acrylic sublimation products, give a read to this article. We have shared some of the easiest and best methods for sublimation on acrylic. After this brief discussion you will get your answer can you sublimate on acrylic?
Can You Sublimate On Acrylic? – Sublimation on Acrylic
Before we jump to the methods, it is essential to know the following essentials
What Is Acrylic? – Acrylic Products for Sublimation
Acrylic is a transparent solid plastic that is one of the best substrates for sublimation for its transparency and perceptible clarity. Acrylic sheets are weather resistant. Also, acrylic is rich in polymers, and therefore it is one of the most suitable substrates for the dye sublimation process. The higher polymer content on the acrylic eliminates the need to apply separate polymer coats and reduces the overall cost of the sublimation process.
For dye sublimation on acrylic, acrylic blanks or acrylic sheets are used. Acrylic is available in two forms: extruded and cast acrylic. Cast acrylic is used for the sublimation process since it has better thermal performance than extruded acrylic. It has a high melting point and is more resistant to heat, making it suitable for the heat transfer process in dye sublimation.
Acrylic sublimation temperature is around 180 degrees Celsius, and cast acrylic can easily withstand such high temperatures in the sublimation process. Cast acrylic is cut or molded into sheets or blanks of various sizes and thicknesses, and then sublimation printing and heat transfer process is performed.
What Do You Need To Sublimate On Acrylic?
The sublimation printers are the most important thing you need for sublimation on acrylic. Sublimation printers are readily available in the market, and you can find either ready-to-sublimation or convertible to sublimation printers. Epson Ecotank printers are the best option if you are looking for a printer convertible to sublimation. Also, Sawgrass SG400 and SG500 are fully compatible ready to sublimation printers.
Sublimation Inks and Papers
Sublimation inks are particular types of dyes that are used in the heat transfer process. Also, sublimation paper is a special type of paper that is used in sublimation printing machines. These papers are also called heat transfer papers, and you can find specialized heat transfer paper for dye sublimation on acrylic on Amazon and eBay.
Acrylic Blank or Acrylic Sheets
Depending upon your needs and the products you want to make, you can buy acrylic blanks and acrylic sheets of various sizes and thicknesses. Acrylic blanks are available in a wide range of sizes and structures and are the best choice for making jewelry, keychains, and decorative items.
Heat Transfer Machine
The heat transfer machine is key equipment needed for the dye sublimation process. Once you print the design on the transfer paper through the printer, it is placed on the substrate, and then the temperature is applied through a heat transfer machine. The heat helps the sublimation ink to adhere and absorb into the substrate.
Acrylic is a transparent material, and the transferred sublimation image appears weaker due to its transparent background. To make the print more prominent and vibrant, the acrylic substrate is coated with white transparent or opaque white spray. A white transparent spray is applied on the acrylic substrate before the sublimation process, while the opaque white spray is applied after the sublimation process.
Teflon paper or sheets are used in the heat transfer process. They are heat-resistant and protective sheets. These are used in the heat transfer process to prevent the sublimation ink from spreading and transferring on the opposite side of the substrate. Teflon papers can be used more than one time. Also, you need heat transfer tapes to fix the sublimation papers on the substrate.
How to Print on Acrylic Sheets? – Dye Sublimation Acrylic
Following are the two best methods to sublimate on acrylic sheets.
Follow these instructions to sublimate on acrylic sheets or block:
- Select a design that you want to sublimate on acrylic sheets. If you are doing it for the first time, it is advised to select a geometrical shape of symmetrical design so that you can measure it easily.
- Measure the design and then find the acrylic sheet or block that is slightly larger in size than the design you want to print.
- Use high-quality sublimation paper of the larger size to print sublimation paper. Centralize the design on the sheets before printing so that you can easily centralize the substrate on it afterward.
- Also, do not mirror the image since we do not see the print on the printed side but through the opposite side. Therefore it will automatically appear as a mirror image.
- Once the print is taken, pre-warm the acrylic sheet or blank you are using. Apply the heat on the opposite side of the acrylic back. This is done to increase the heat resistance of the blocks and to prevent bending or reshaping during the heat transfer process.
- Centralize the design on the substrate and fix the heat transfer paper on the acrylic block with the printed size of the paper facing downwards. Use heat-resistant tape to fix the heat transfer paper.
- Now place the Teflon sheet on the heat transfer paper. Raise the temperature of the heat transfer machine to 200 degrees Celsius. Now apply the heat transfer on the acrylic substrate for 100 seconds. A medium to firm pressure is required to apply a sublimation coating on acrylic.
- Now mask off the edges of the sublimated blanks with heat-resistant tape. To make the image more prominent and visible, apply the coat of opaque white spray on the printed side of the block.
In this method, you apply the translucent coating on the acrylic substrate before printing. Transparent white spray used in this process is expensive than opaque white spray and is usually used in commercial-grade products. This is a special coating that is applied on the printable side of the acrylic blanks that allows the sublimation ink to pass through and adhere to the surface of the substrate. This method is used in producing commercial-grade sublimation products, and if you want to sell sublimation products, it is recommended to use this method.
- Measure the print of the design and then take acrylic blanks or sheets accordingly.
- Mask off the edges of the acrylic blank with heat-resistant tape before applying the white spray coating.
- After that apply an even coating of white spray and wait until it dries. It may take as long as 2 hours to get thoroughly dried depending on the consistency of spray, thickness of coat, and room temperature. Once the spray is dried, remove the heat transfer tape.
- Now centralize the design and take print on the high-quality heat transfer paper. Do not mirror the image while taking print.
- Place the paper on the printable side of the acrylic block with its printed side facing downwards. Fix it with the help of heat-resistant tape.
- Now place a Teflon sheet on the heat transfer paper.
- Raise the temperature of the heat transfer machine between 190-200 degrees Celsius.
- Then apply the heat transfer with a medium to firm pressure for 100 seconds. Remove the heat transfer tape and sublimation residue. Your sublimation product is ready.
Acrylic Sublimation Temperature
- The temperature for acrylic should be in range of 175-190°F. If we increase the temperature, it start softening at 210-220°F. And we further increase the temperature then it will start melting between 300-315°F.
- Temperature for extruded sheet should be maintain in between 290-320 °F.
Tips for Sublimation on Acrylic
- Acrylic sheets are highly flammable and decompose on heating. So it is prohibited to never heat acrylic sheets in oven.
- We can formed acrylic sheets in any shape but for this purpose we have required specialized heating and forming equipment.
What is extruded acrylic?
Extruded acrylic is an inexpensive solid plastic used in skylights and trade show displays. Extruded plastic has less optical clarity and thermal stability than cast acrylic. Therefore it is not a good choice for acrylic sublimation.
Is acrylic yarn flammable?
Yes, acrylic yarn is highly flammable since it contains Acrylonitrile. It is an invisible yet highly flammable liquid that quickly catches fire, making the acrylic yarn highly flammable.
How to print on clear acrylic?
You can apply a translucent white spray coating to sublimate on clear acrylic blanks. Also, you can apply an opaque white spray coating on the clear acrylic to make the sublimation prints more clear and visible.
Can you sublimate on acrylic keychains?
Yes, you can sublimate on acrylic keychains. Acrylic is solid plastic rich in polymers content, making it highly suitable for dye sublimation. You can find many acrylic blanks in various structures that can be used as keychains after printing.
Can you sublimate on PVC?
Yes, PVC is a synthetic plastic that contains a significant amount of polymers. The higher polymer content makes the PVC suitable for sublimation and the heat transfer process.
If you wonder that can you sublimate on acrylic or how to print on acrylic sheets, this guide is a real treat for you. In this in-depth guide, we have discussed the two easiest methods you can use to sublimate on acrylic. You can earn a handsome profit by selling your acrylic sublimation products. Acrylic sublimation sheets are available in a wide range of thicknesses and sizes making it easier for you to find suitable substrates for your projects.