Sublimation Heat Press Settings

You have everything set up: the printer, the ink, a heat press, sublimation paper, and more. But does that guarantee the best sublimation printing results? No, it doesn’t. We faced the same dull-looking output issue on our substrate.

The reason for the failed attempt wasn’t due to printer settings, paper, or sublimation ink because we had already tweaked and refined the print output.

We discovered that even if you have the sharpest color design on paper, it will only transfer to the target material (fabric, ceramic, metal, etc.) once you use the correct temperature and pressure settings

But what exactly are the correct temperature settings? Do they vary with each substrate? We will discuss all these doubts in detail. Let’s begin.

What is the correct Sublimation Heat Press and Temperature Setting

Polyester400° F35-40 seconds40 psi
Ceramic350-400°F150-210 seconds40 psi
Metal400° F60-80 seconds40 psi
Hardwood360-400°F40-80 seconds40 psi
MDF(fibreboard)400°F80-90 seconds40 psi
Plywood400° F60-70 seconds40 psi
Fiber-reinforced plastic380-400°F60-75 seconds40 psi

Well, the sublimation heat press settings aren’t a ‘one shoe fits all’ approach. We learned it the hard way, but you won’t have to go through the same scenario again.

Each sublimation material has pre-defined temperature, timing, and pressure settings, which helps transfer the complete design from the sublimation paper.

However, if you purchase sublimation-ready products like fabrics, and ceramic mugs, typically, your seller will share the correct settings for the material. 

So, here is a list of the most common sublimation materials and their sublimation heat press settings:

Polyester: Polyester is an excellent substrate for sublimation because the fibers bond well with the sublimation ink. It is also the go-to choice for sublimation enthusiast because printed apparels are a huge market. The recommended heat press settings for polyester are 400° F for 35-40 seconds at a medium pressure of 40 psi.  

Ceramic: Ceramic sublimation is also an equally lucrative industry, but it requires a special heat press that can adjust to the product’s design. For best results, set the heat press to a 350-400°F temperature at 40 psi pressure. It takes a bit longer than polyester, between 150-210 seconds.

Metal: Metal sublimation looks shinier than any other sublimation material while retaining the details. Before sublimating on metal surfaces, always remove the plastic coating. Then warm up the heat press to 400°F and press the design for 60-80 seconds at medium pressure of 40 psi. 

Hardboard and MDF: Unlike metal, hardboard is an engineered wood product and needs 40-80 seconds of pressing time at a 360-400°F temperature range. Keep the pressure medium (40 psi).

For MDF, press the design at 400°F temperature and medium pressure for 80-90 seconds. 

Plywood: If you are sublimating on plywood, remove the plastic coating and clean the surface before placing it in the heat press. Warm up the press to 400°F and press the design for 60-70 seconds at medium pressure.

Fiberglass Reinforced Plastics: FRP requires a little longer time than MDF. You must press the design for 60-75 seconds at medium pressure with a temperature of 380-400°F. 

Here’s a neat table that you can quickly glance at before sublimating on any material:

Final words

The target substrate (material) will absorb the sublimation ink only if you get everything right. It includes the best print and color accuracy on the sublimation paper and the perfect heat press settings.

Printer manufacturers like Sawgrass always bundle a heat press guide for different materials. In addition, always check the packaging of the substrate and contact the seller to know the correct heat press settings for vivid sublimation results.


What temperature should I heat press polyester and spandex sublimation?

The ideal temperature range is 350-400°F for 30-45 seconds. Apply medium pressure and place Teflon paper on both sides to avoid ink spillage on the heat press. 

What temperature should I set my heat press to?

The temperature range will vary with different substrates. Refrain from second-guessing temperature and timings and check the packaging of the substrate for heat-pressing sublimation. Always warm up your heat press before printing the design. In addition, remove the moisture and wrinkles from the substrate by pressing it for a few seconds.

How long do you press a sublimation transfer?

Like the temperature settings, the timing must be adequate to allow the ink to evaporate and transfer to the substrate. If you press the design for longer, the result will be dull and faded. Refer to our sublimation heat press settings chart for information on press time for different substrates. 

What temperature do you sublimate 100% polyester?

You can sublimate a 100% polyester fabric at 380-400°F for 35-40 seconds. Since polyester binds well with sublimation ink, you don’t need to press it too long. However, ensure that the fabric is completely dry before sublimating the design. 

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