How to Sublimate a Mug Without a Mug Press

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Learn to sublimate a mug without using a mug press OR a sublimation printer.

Friends… I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot with this tutorial today. I’m going to teach you how to sublimate a mug WITHOUT a mug press. Yes, you heard that right. No mug press or sublimation printer needed. Ready to learn the secret sauce? Read on…

sublimate a mug



Did you notice what we’re going to be using to sublimate?

The secret is a HEAT GUN!



I’m going to preface this by saying that this was my first attempt at doing this and the final project is not 100% perfect. But is any DIY 100% perfect? AND sublimating a mug without a mug press takes longer than if you are using a mug press. However, I think the final project came out pretty darn good and there are a few things I’m going to do next time that will make it even better.

What is Cricut Infusible Ink?

Cricut Infusible Ink is a peel-proof, flake-proof, wash-proof ink that you can transfer onto any compatible material. Cricut sells compatible blanks but you don’t need to buy their blanks to use the infusible ink (see below). Infusible ink is a heat transfer product that is infused into your base material without any bulk. The ink becomes part of the material and is permanently bonded. Cricut Infusible Ink comes in many different bold colors and patterns.

How is Infusible Ink Different than Heat Transfer Vinyl?

Infusible ink is infused into the substrate material during the heating process. The ink actually becomes a part of the material, unlike heat transfer vinyl (HTV) which is adhered on top of the material. When you use Infusible ink, you don’t have to worry about it peeling off after washing which is sometimes a problem with HTV.

Is Infusible Ink the Same as Sublimation?

Infusible ink is a material that is used in sublimation. Sublimation refers to the process of bonding ink into the material. The material can be things like fabric, wood, or ceramic. Sublimation designs can also be printed, however, you need a special sublimation printer. So if you have a cutting machine but no sublimation printer, Infusible Ink is the way to go.

What Materials are Compatible with Infusible Ink?

If you are using Infusible ink on a mug or ornament, it must be specially coated for sublimation. Cricut has numerous blanks for sale that work with infusible ink but places like your local craft store and Amazon also sell sublimation blanks that work just as well as the Cricut blanks. I purchased my sublimation-ready mug from Michaels. In order for fabric to work with infusible ink, it must be a light-colored polyester surface. Infusible ink will not work on dark cotton. There are some work-arounds for this but for true sublimation, you’ll need a light-colored substrate. The polyester content must be at least 50%.

How to Cut Infusible Ink with Silhouette Cameo

Did you know that you don’t need a Cricut cutting machine to use their Infusible Ink? That’s right…you can cut the Infusible Ink sheets with a Silhouette (or any other cutting machine that supports SVG files).

  1. Upload the SVG file to Silhouette Studio.
  2. Size the SVG file to fit your mug and make sure to mirror the design. This is a crucial step. If you do not mirror the design, it will be backward on your mug.
  3. Place the Infusible Ink sheet onto your cutting mat with the patterned/colored side up. Since Infusible ink comes in rolls, it may be difficult to keep flat on the mat so make sure you use a sticky mat. You can also use a brayer to adhere the Infusuble Ink to the cutting mat.
  4. Send the Infusible Ink sheet through your Cameo or Portrait to cut. The cut settings should be Blade: 5, Speed: 4, Force 26, 1 Pass. Silhouette does not have a default cut setting for Cricut Infusible Ink so be sure to save these cut settings and label them as Infusible Ink Sheets.
  5. Once your design is finished cutting, weed away the excess Infusible Ink from around your design. You do not need a weeding tool to weed Infusible Ink. Simply bend the Infusible Ink paper a bit and you can peel it right off.

How to Sublimate a Mug Without A Mug Press

  1. Center your design (ink side down) onto your mug and use heat-resistant tape to keep it in place.
  2. Using your heat gun on the LOW setting, direct the heat onto your design. Do not hold the heat gun too close to the design. If you do this, the carrier sheet will curl up and you’ll get a ghosting effect.
  3. Continue to heat your design evenly, moving the heat gun back and forth across the design for approximately 5 minutes.
  4. Slowly remove the heat-resistant tape and peel off the protective sheet to reveal your design. Be careful because the mug will be hot. I usually use a set of tweezers to remove the protective sheet. You may want to use heat-resistant gloves as well.

This was my first time sublimating a mug without a mug press and I think it turned out well. You’ll notice that there is a bit of smearing/ghosting that occurred. You can see this on the “w” and the “n” in the photo above. This is because at first I turned the heat gun to high and held it really close to the mug. Because my impatient-self just couldn’t help it. But the heat was way too hot and too close to the mug so the carrier sheet started to curl and the design lifted off of the mug a bit and smeared. After I realized what was happening, I lowered the heat setting and moved the gun further away from the mug and everything from there on out turned out good.

There are a few spots that are not as dark as the rest of the design and that is because those areas probably weren’t heated as long as the other areas. With this method, it is more difficult to get consistent heat like a mug press but sublimating with a heat gun is a great alternative if you don’t have a mug press.


  • Be patient. This method takes longer than a mug press
  • Make sure your design is fully secured to your mug with heat-resistant tape
  • Set your heat gun to the low setting. If your heat gun doesn’t have a low setting, hold your gun further away from the mug
  • Do not hold the heat gun too close to the mug or the carrier sheet will curl up and cause smearing.
mug with oh what fun sublimated design on it


How to Sublimate a Shirt: Everything You Need to Know
How to Sublimate a Wooden Ornament
Christmas Coasters with Cricut Infusible Ink
Christmas Tote Bag with Cricut Infusible Ink


How do I open these files in my Silhouette software?
Save the file to your computer. If it is a zip file, unzip it. Open your Silhouette software and select FILE>OPEN and navigate to where you saved the file. You can also import the file(s) to your Silhouette library by clicking FILE>LIBRARY>IMPORT TO LIBRARY and navigating to where you saved the file.

Can I open SVG files in the Silhouette Basic Edition?
No. You must have Silhouette Designer Edition or higher to open SVG files. If you have Silhouette Basic Edition, you can use PNG files and convert the PNG to a cut file.

Can this file be used with a Cricut?
Yes. Any SVG file can be used in Cricut Design Space


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