Best tumbler heat press

Best Tumbler Heat Press 2024: Create Custom Mugs and Tumblers

There is something quite satisfying about turning a blank mug or tumbler into something artistic and customized: a process that is most efficiently done with one of the best tumbler heat presses on the market. These machines are a form of sublimation printing, and allow you to effortlessly imprint your designs onto any form of… well, tumbler. If you are wanting to effortlessly emboss your water bottle or mug, then investing in one of these units is the best way to do it – but it can be hard to know what the best tumbler heat press looks like.

I’ve put together some recommendations for the best units currently on the market, factoring in a range of budgetary concerns and specialist needs. Irrespective of your skill level or volume of use, these tumbler heat presses are sure to meet your expectations and needs.

Cricut Mug Press
  • User friendly, one-touch settings, safe
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CALCA Mug Tumblers Press
  • Beginner friendly, great for large tumblers
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POVOKICI Tumbler Heat Press
  • Affordable, suitable for a variety of tumblers
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What Makes a Good Tumbler Heat Press?

The major benefit of a tumbler heat press over a convection oven for sublimation is the price: tumbler heat presses are the more affordable option, nine times out of ten. That said, no product is without its strengths and weaknesses, therefore it’s important to consider a few key factors beyond price.

Depending on how frequently you plan to use the heat press, elements such as print speed or print quality are vital considerations. If you are planning on making your mark on a high volume of products, then speed and quick turnarounds will be essential.

Similarly, sublimation printing for beginners can be difficult, with some machines making the process even more challenging. Ease-of-access is vital to tumbler heat press newcomers and experienced printers alike.

Below, our recommendations detail the advantages and disadvantages of each product. Not all heat press printers are born equal, so I’ve accounted for different tastes and recommended for different needs. Consider your specific requirements, and how the disadvantages of one model may be advantageous for your own setup.

Best Tumbler Heat Press: Cricut Mug Press

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  • Delivers professional-quality vinyl transfers
  • User-friendly with one-touch settings
  • Fully insulated exterior for safety
  • Not suitable for tall tumblers

The Cricut Mug Press is our top choice for the best tumbler heat press. It boasts a sleek and compact design, specially tailored for heat press printing on tumblers.

This tumbler heat press is incredibly user-friendly, with convenient one-touch settings and an auto shut-off feature. After creating your designs with infusible ink and attaching the transfer sheets to the mug blanks, it’s as easy as pushing a button. It seamlessly integrates with other Cricut DIY machines like the Cricut Explore Air. The patented heat plate with zone heating, ensures your designs remain peel-proof and dishwasher-safe. You’ll be impressed with its quick heating time, taking just 6 minutes to work its magic. Moreover, it’s compatible with off-brand sublimation inks and other products for added convenience. However, note that taller tumblers aren’t supported in this compact design.

Compared to other options on the list, the Cricut Mug Press stands out for its simplicity.

Best Tumbler Heat Press for Beginners: CALCA 110V

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  • Affordable price point
  • User-friendly
  • Easy setup and operation
  • Ideal for 20oz tumblers
  • Poor temperature control

As an entry-level offering for tumbler heat presses, the CALCA 110V is an ideal solution. Coming fully assembled for immediate use, this affordable and user-friendly tumbler heat press is an excellent jumping-on point to the world of sublimation printing.

Certified for home and business use, the CALCA 110V is built with ease of use in mind. Simply print your designs onto sublimation paper, insert that and your mug or tumbler, and it’s ready to go. The conical mold allows for tumblers of different sizes to be inserted with ease, and the results look fantastic.

However, the temperature modulation on this tumbler heat press is incredibly difficult to gauge, with the unit often overheating or underheating the desired temperature. This can cause print errors in the worst-case scenarios, but otherwise is manageable – especially at an entry-level. For beginners looking to learn the craft of sublimation printing, the CALVA 110V is the ideal tumbler heat press!

Best Budget Tumbler Heat Press: Realkant Tumbler Heat Press Machine

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  • Built-in temperature correction for even heating
  • Suitable for pressing 1-2 mugs simultaneously
  • Low price point
  • Time-consuming setup

All of today’s top tumbler heat press machines have been priced relatively similarly, but the Realkant offering is our pick for the best budget tumbler heat press machine. Often on sale despite offering a great deal more in the package, this budget unit comes with a gamut of useful features.

With a design capable of handling mugs, skinny tumblers, and even glass jars; the Realkant Tumbler Heat Press is a great option for multiple sublimation prints. It is even capable of printing on two items simultaneously, maximizing productivity. A built-in timer keeps things ticking along smoothly, and there’s built-in control for fine-tuning pressure and temperature.

However, unlike our entry-level pick. This tumbler heat press machine is a lot more time-consuming to set up, which may alienate some first-time buyers. If you want to avoid a length assembly, avoid this model. However, for affordable sublimation heat printing with ease, this unit is the best choice!

Best Compact Tumbler Heat Press: AKEYDIY Tumbler Heat Press

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  • Tremendous value for money
  • Entry-level user-friendliness
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Resolution slightly poorer than some sublimation printers
  • Basic control layout

For those working with limited space for their tumbler heat press, consider the AKEYDIY offering. Boasting a compact form factor without sacrificing quality, this is a great option for great sublimation printing!

The AKEYDIY unit offers a digital display for easy adjustment, making for an easier level of configuration and customization. On the other end of the spectrum, for a hands-off approach, the tumbler heat press has automated features for easy plug-and-play printing. I’m also a big fan of the design: with a great metal finish that ensures sturdiness in such a small footprint.

This is one of the more expensive models on our ranking, due to its finer build quality, but it is negligible considering the results. The AKEYDIY compact tumbler heat press is an ideal choice for those who need top-tier sublimation printing in a low-tier package.

Best Tumbler Heat Press for Business: TEKCHIC Tumbler Mug Heat Press Machine

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  • Exceptional print speeds
  • Safe and easy to use
  • Premium pricing
  • Bulky

If you want a business-class tumbler heat press that is capable of using both sublimation and vinyl, then this tumbler heat press unit from TEKCHIC is the ultimate solution. Capable of printing designs in as little as one minute, this heat press is impressively fast and devilishly well-designed.

Heat is consistent all throughout the print process with this tumbler heat press, so you don’t have to worry about inconsistencies ruining your design. It is capable of offering a versatility of sizes for mugs or glassware, from 10oz mugs up to skinny 30oz straight tumblers, thanks to the conical construction.

This is aimed at business-level outputs, however, so consider the price point if you don’t plan to use this tumbler heat press regularly. And whilst the model isn’t too large in size, the bulky metal construction makes it very heavy and impractical to move. Still, if used as a tumbler heat press for businesses, this unit will pay for itself!

Features and Considerations

If you are looking at a tumbler heat press not on today’s list, here are some things to consider to get the most out of your purchase:

Mug Sizes

Most tumbler heat presses have a variable accommodation for different mug and glassware sizes, but always double-check beforehand that your unit has the correct capacity for your planned product. The standard array of 11-ounce mugs are generally universal, but the best tumbler heat press units can hold larger mugs or tumblers as high as 30 ounces.

Heating Element

The heating element is one of the most crucial elements of a tumbler heat press, as it is the component that actually begins to transfer your design onto a tumbler or mug. Ensure that yours has a rapid heating time, and is made of a decently conductive material to reach the necessary temperature in time. Different tumbler heat presses have different heat times: from two minutes to as little as a few dozen seconds – make sure to check with the manufacturer before you buy.

Time Settings

Some mug presses allow you to adjust the duration of the media, which helps create mugs with diverse designs. You can set a shorter time for simple designs and longer for more intricate ones, to ensure the quality remains consistent throughout. This is not an essential feature, however.

What else do you need to start sublimation printing?

Unfortunately, your investment in sublimation printing doesn’t start and end with one of the best tumbler heat presses. There are a number of other purchases that need to be made in order to get started with your designs.

In order to correctly print your designs on sublimation paper, you will first need to invest in a sublimation printer. Without one of these, your tumbler heat press is inert; and no designs will ever be printed. For those operating on a tight budget, it’s worth checking if a printer that you already own is able to be converted to a sublimation printer.

The next key ingredient is ink: standard printer inks don’t work with sublimation printing, unfortunately. Therefore you will have to invest in sublimation ink for the best results. Similarly, sublimation paper (or heat transfer paper) is vital. You can’t sublimate onto standard sheets, so having appropriate paper is an essential.

Heat-resistant gloves are of the utmost importance for tumbler heat presses: they can run extremely hot, and require you to provide literal hands-on attention. Avoid injury or damaging the machine with some high-heat handware.

Another important element to consider is the software you plan to design with. Most printers are compatible with the standard design suites, but it is always worth double-checking that you know how to export your designs into choice formats.

Finally, it’s worth assembling several mugs or tumblers with which you can practice the tumbler heat press process. It can be a learning curve to get right, so having some spares on hand for your planned gift is a good investment.

How to Use a Tumbler Heat Press

With everything set, it’s time to dive into the heat-pressing process, but careful attention is required. As mentioned above, I recommend having a few trial runs before embarking on any intensive heat transference.

Begin by thoroughly cleaning the tumbler’s surface with a lint roller. If any oily residues are detected, use an alcohol-soaked cloth to remove them.

Wrap the previously prepared heat transfer paper tightly around the tumbler, securing it with heat-resistant tape. To minimize ink loss, I recommend encasing the heat transfer paper in silicon paper.

Only now are you ready to switch on the tumbler heat press machine. Adjust the temperature to your desired level (I recommend 375°F, or 190.556°C) and adjust the pressure. Be sure to use the heat-resistant gloves to avoid burning yourself.

Place your wrapped tumbler in the slot, and enclose it – ready to print. After the allotted time, your print should be done. Some models may require you to turn the model halfway or some other hands-on checking, so be sure to double-check that before leaving the transfer unattended.

Once the transfer is complete, carefully unwrap the paper from the tumbler, taking extra care with the heat-resistant tapes. Allow it to cool for a period of time, and immerse it in a bucket of water for rapid cooling. After that, your tumbler is ready for use!

In Summary

That wraps up our rankings for the best tumbler heat presses on the market today. Given the numerous options, finding the best tumbler heat press can be challenging. I’ve taken the time to evaluate these machines based on key factors like ease of use, quality, performance, features, durability, and value for money.

Whether you’re a beginner looking for user-friendly options or a professional seeking high-quality results, there’s a suitable heat press on our list! In the meantime, check out our page for even more sublimation printing techniques, including a guide on sublimation on canvas!

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