How to Make Sublimation Coating for Stainless Steel?
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Do you want to learn how to make sublimation coating for stainless steel? It’s actually a lot easier than you might think! In this blog post, we will walk you through the steps that you need to take in order to create a beautiful and durable sublimation coating on stainless steel. Keep reading for more information!

What Is Stainless Steel?

Stainless steel is a type of steel that contains at least 10.5% chromium, which makes it highly resistant to corrosion. Chromium is a key element in stainless steel because it forms a thin layer of oxide on the surface of the metal, which protects it from further corrosion. Stainless steel is available in many different grades, each with slightly different compositions and properties. The grades of stainless steel used most often in sublimation are 304 and 316. [1]

How Does Sublimation Work?

Sublimation is a process where a solid material turns into a gas without going through the liquid phase. This can happen when the material is heated to its vaporization point and the pressure is released. When heat is applied to a solid material, the molecules of that material begin to move faster. If the heat is increased enough, the molecules will have enough energy to break apart the bonds that hold them together and they will turn into a gas.

How Does Sublimation Work?

Sublimation can also happen when a material is cooled down very quickly. This is because the molecules don’t have time to slow down and form new bonds as they cool. When this happens, the material goes straight from the gas phase to the solid phase without going through the liquid phase. [2]

Why Use Stainless Steel?

Stainless steel is a popular choice for sublimation because it is strong, durable, and corrosion-resistant. It is also easy to clean and maintain. Stainless steel can be used for a variety of applications, including cookware, kitchen appliances, and medical equipment.

Can You Sublimate Onto Steel?

Yes, you can sublimate onto steel! Steel is a great substrate for sublimation and produces vibrant, full-color results. In order to sublimate onto steel, you will need a product that has been specially coated to accept the transfer inks. We offer a variety of coated steel products that are perfect for sublimation, including mugs, keychains, ornaments, and more.

To get started, you will need:

  • A heat press capable of reaching 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Sublimation transfer paper
  • High-quality sublimation inks
  • A coated steel product

Once you have gathered your supplies, you are ready to begin! Follow the instructions below to create a beautiful, full-color sublimation transfer.


  • Start by designing your sublimation transfer in your preferred design software.
    Make sure to mirror (flip) your image before printing.
  • Print your design onto sublimation transfer paper using a sublimation-compatible printer. We recommend using our Epson WorkForce WF-7710 printer and Siser EasySubli heat transfer vinyl for best results.
  • Cut out your design, weed away the excess vinyl, and place it on your coated steel product.
  • Cover your design with a piece of parchment paper or a Teflon sheet to prevent sticking.
  • Place your product in a heat press and apply pressure at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 60 seconds.
  • Remove your product from the heat press and allow it to cool completely before handling. Your design should now be fully transferred onto your steel product!

Repeat these steps for each product you wish to sublimate. You’ll be amazed at the vibrant, full-color results you can achieve with sublimation onto steel! [3]

How to Make Sublimation Coating for Stainless Steel?

Sublimation coating is a type of paint or coating that is specifically designed to allow sublimation inks to bond with the surface. Sublimation inks are a special type of ink that can be heat transferred onto a variety of surfaces, including stainless steel. In order for the inks to properly bond with the surface, the surface must first be properly prepared with a sublimation coating.

There are a few different methods that can be used to apply a sublimation coating onto stainless steel. One popular method is to use a spray-on sublimation coating. This type of coating can be easily applied using a standard aerosol pump sprayer. Another popular method is to use an airbrush to apply the coating. This method provides a more even coating, but can be more time consuming.

Once the coating has been applied, it needs to be cured. Curing can be done using a heat press or an oven.

When using a heat press, the coated stainless steel should be placed on the heat press for 2-3 minutes at 400°F (204°C).
If using an oven, the coated stainless steel should be placed in the oven for 30 minutes at 400°F (204°C).

How to Make Sublimation Coating for Stainless Steel?

After the coating has been cured, it is now ready to have sublimation inks applied. The inks can be applied using a standard inkjet printer and sublimation paper. Once the inks have been applied, they need to be heat transferred onto the stainless steel. This can be done using a heat press or an oven. When using a heat press, the inked stainless steel should be placed on the heat press for 60 seconds at 400°F (204°C). If using an oven, the inked stainless steel should be placed in the oven for 2 minutes at 400°F (204°C).

Once the inks have been properly transferred, they will become permanent and will not fade or wash away. The sublimation coating will also help to protect the inks from scratching and UV damage.[4]

How Do You Sublimate Stainless Steel In The Oven?

You can actually sublimate stainless steel in the oven, but you’ll need to purchase a specially made transfer paper that’s designed for this purpose. The process is pretty simple:

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Place your stainless steel item on the transfer paper.
  • Place the transfer paper (with the stainless steel item) onto an oven-safe tray or cookie sheet.
  • Put the tray or cookie sheet into the preheated oven and bake for 3-5 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool completely before handling.

Your stainless steel item should now have a beautiful design that’s been permanently transferred!

Can You Do Sublimation On Stainless Steel Tumblers?

Yes, you can do sublimation on stainless steel tumblers! Stainless steel is a great substrate for sublimation because it doesn’t require any special coating – the ink will adhere directly to the metal. That said, there are a few things to keep in mind when working with stainless steel.

Can You Do Sublimation On Stainless Steel Tumblers?

First, because the ink will be absorbed directly into the metal, the colors will not be as vibrant as they would be on other substrates. This is especially true for dark colors; white and light colors will still look good, but don’t expect them to “pop” like they would on a coated mug.

Second, stainless steel is a smooth surface, so you won’t get the same level of detail as you would with a coated substrate. This means that complex designs or very small text may not print well.

Third, stainless steel is a bit of a tricky surface to work with when it comes to sublimation. Because the ink is absorbed directly into the metal, it can be difficult to get an even coat of color. This can result in some areas being darker or lighter than others, or in streaking.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to minimize these issues. First, make sure your design is simple and that any text is large and easy to read. Second, use masking tape to cover any areas you don’t want to print (this will help prevent streaking). Finally, be sure to use an even, continuous printing motion when applying the ink to the stainless steel.

With a little practice, you’ll be able to produce great-looking stainless steel tumblers that are perfect for promotional events, gifts, or just everyday use! [5]

Alternatives to Stainless Steel for Sublimation

While stainless steel is the most commonly used metal for sublimation, it’s not the only option. Other metals that can be used for sublimation include aluminum, brass, and bronze. Each of these metals has its own benefits and drawbacks that should be considered before making a decision.

Aluminum is the most popular alternative to stainless steel for sublimation.
It’s less expensive than stainless steel and has a lower melting point, making it easier to work with. Aluminum also provides a brighter and more vibrant image when sublimated. However, it is more prone to scratching and denting than stainless steel.

Brass and bronze are both more expensive than aluminum but offer a number of advantages. Both metals have a higher melting point than aluminum, making them more durable. Brass and bronze also create a more subtle image when sublimated, which may be preferred for some designs.

Finally, it’s important to note that not all metals are suitable for sublimation. Metals such as iron and steel will not work because they have too high of a melting point. Copper and its alloys are also not typically used for sublimation due to their reactivity with certain chemicals.

When choosing a metal for sublimation, it’s important to consider the benefits and drawbacks of each option. Stainless steel is the most popular choice but aluminum, brass, and bronze can also be used. Each metal has its own unique advantages and disadvantages that should be considered before making a decision.

Alternatives to Stainless Steel for Sublimation

If you’re looking for a more affordable option, aluminum is the way to go. For a more durable metal, brass or bronze might be a better choice. Ultimately, the best metal for sublimation is the one that meets your specific needs and preferences.


Can I make my own sublimation coating?

Yes, it is possible to make your own sublimation coating. However, we do not recommend this as it is difficult to get the correct proportions and mix the ingredients correctly. It is also hard to find all of the necessary ingredients. We highly suggest that you purchase a pre-made sublimation coating.

What do I need to make my own sublimation coating?

To make your own sublimation coating, you will need: 1 part aluminum powder, 1 part zinc oxide, 2 parts epoxy resin, and a small amount of pigment (optional).

First, mix the aluminum powder and zinc oxide together. Next, slowly add the epoxy resin while stirring. Once the epoxy resin is fully mixed in, you can add a small amount of pigment if desired.

How do I apply the sublimation coating?

The best way to apply the sublimation coating is to use a spray gun. First, make sure that your substrate is clean and free of any grease or dirt. Next, mix the coating ingredients together and pour them into the spray gun. Apply the coating evenly to the substrate, making sure to cover all sides. Allow the coating to dry completely before proceeding with the sublimation process.

What is the shelf life of homemade sublimation coating?

Homemade sublimation coatings have a shorter shelf life than commercially made coatings. We recommend that you use the coating within 6 months of mixing it.

Can I apply the sublimation coating to metal?

Yes, you can apply the sublimation coating to metal substrates. However, it is important to note that the results will vary depending on the type of metal used. For best results, we recommend using stainless steel or aluminum.

How do I store the leftover coating?

Leftover coating can be stored in an airtight container for future use. However, we recommend that you use it within 6 months for best results.

Can I use polyurethane for sublimation?

Polyurethane is not recommended for use with sublimation due to the fact that it is not very heat resistant. If you must use polyurethane, it is recommended that you use a product that is specifically designed for sublimation purposes.

What kind of paint should I use for sublimation?

The best type of paint to use for sublimation is a water-based acrylic paint. These kinds of paints are specifically designed to be used with sublimation and will not damage the substrate when heated.

What is sublimation coating spray?

Sublimation coating spray is a product that is designed to be used on substrates that will be used for sublimation. This type of coating will help to protect the substrate from the high temperatures that are required for sublimation.

Can powder coating be sublimated?

Powder coating can be sublimated, but it is not recommended due to the fact that it is not very heat resistant. If you must use powder coating, it is recommended that you use a product that is specifically designed for sublimation purposes.

Useful Video: Coating Stainless Steel with Polygloss | Sublimating on Stainless Steel Apparels


With a little bit of creativity and the right supplies, you can create your own sublimation coating for stainless steel! By following the steps outlined in this article, you’ll be well on your way to creating beautiful and unique metal pieces that are perfect for personalization. Remember to experiment with different colors and designs to find the perfect look for your project. With a bit of practice, you’ll be able to create stunning sublimated stainless steel pieces that will amaze your friends and family. Thanks for reading!



Hello! I'm a James Miller, and I'm an expert in materials science. I learned different metal properties in the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and I know everything about all kinds of metal. That's why I want to share my experience with you.

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