Personalizing Drinkware with Heat Transfer Printing

Printer, heat press, and variety of customizable items sitting on a table

Heat transfer printing is a go-to technology for people looking to create custom apparel items such as t-shirt, sweatshirts, and other soft goods. The ability to transfer white on to dark products is a huge selling point for customers and opens up a wide range of items that can be personalized.

While it’s ideal for garments, those who maximize their heat transfer printer know that it’s also great for hard surface items, including drinkware. From creating custom mugs and shot glasses to promotional giveaways like tumblers, heat transfer printing can bring big profits with personalized drinkware. Let’s look at how you can expand into this very lucrative market.

Paper Makes the Difference

The first thing to consider when expanding into the drinkware market is to make sure you have the right transfer paper. When customizing soft goods, you’re typically using a two-step process and transfers. Drinkware and other rigid items, however, require one-step paper.

Choosing the right paper, such as the JPPlus 1 Step Paper Hard Surface Paper, will make sure you’re getting the best results when personalizing drinkware. The nice thing about hard surface transfers is that the process is faster than a traditional two-step process. It’s as simple as print and press.

Transfer with a Mug Press or Convection Oven

Once you’ve got your design printed and your drinkware picked out, you’ll need to give the transfer some heat and pressure to finish up your project. To do this, you’ll need some heat tape and mug press or a convection oven.

Whether you’re using a mug press or convection oven, you’ll want to use specific heat tape to attach your transfer to your drinkware. Heat tape is designed specifically to withstand the temperatures of either process without melting or causing other damage to your finished product.

A mug press is the fastest and easiest way to create one-off personalized drinkware for a variety of shapes, sizes and styles. The JP450 mug press is adjustable and comes with separate attachments for mugs, latte-style glasses, and tumblers up to 20oz. Secure your transfer to your drinkware with heat tape and place in the mug press for the recommended time and pressure and you’re all set.

If you don’t have a mug press, a dedicated convection oven can give you the same results. With a convection oven, you’re using heat tape and either a single-use shrink wrap sleeve or reusable silicone wrap to secure your transfer to the drinkware and “baking” the item at the recommended temperature and time.

JP450 Mug Press with DrinkwareJP450 Mug Press with Drinkware

Item #JP450: Johnson Plastics Mug Press Item #XP8612: 11oz Black Laser Mug Item #XP9100F: Frosted Mason Jar Glass

Shrink sleeves come in different sizes and hold your transfer in place when they “shrink” to the drinkware when heated with a heat gun. After baking in the convection oven, you simply cut the sleeve off of your finished item. Because of the “shrinking” process, however, shrink sleeves are not recommended for drinkware with handles, as the handle may not allow for a secure hold on your transfer. Silicone sleeves mechanically fasten in place and allow for space for handles. They’re reusable and adjustable and work great for mugs and larger items that might not fit in a traditional heat press.

Convection ovens don’t transfer as fast as a mug press, but depending on the size of your oven you can do multiple items at the same time. The Hix SubliPro Convection Oven can accommodate up to 12 mugs at a time for bulk orders.

TIP: Due to the nature of both sublimation and heat transfer and potential off-gassing that can occur, it is strongly recommended that you use a dedicated convection oven for these processes and not use them for food preparation as well.

Heat Transfer: The Drinkware Superstar

Heat transfer printing can add a whole new dimension customized drinkware and help you grow your business and increase profits. Personalizing mugs, tumblers and other rigid items is a great way to keep your heat transfer printer making money for you in between more traditional heat transfer jobs like shirts and soft goods.

If you’re just getting started in heat transfer printing, be sure to check out the Heat Transfer Essential playlist on the Johnson Plastics Plus YouTube channel. It’s a great primer on what products you’ll need to have on hand when starting with heat transfer.

package of iColor Presto 1-Step Metallic Hard Surface Transfer Mediapackage of iColor Presto 1-Step Metallic Hard Surface Transfer Media

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