I’ve been raving about using my Cricut mug press so much lately. So when my friend asked me to compare the Cricut Mug Press Machine versus a traditional Sublimation Mug Press versus Oven Pressing to help her decide which one would be best for her.
So, to be able to do that I had to try a little of each, do a bit of digging and now, I have a side-by-side comparison that I can share to help you figure out the best way to make sublimation mugs for you!
One of the things I love best about crafting is that it’s so much a “choose your own adventure” type of activity. Also, there’s no right or wrong answer that works for everyone across the board.
So, I like to find out all the nitty-gritty information and compare, from as many perspectives as possible. Therefore, I recommend that you keep reading to help you start making sublimation mugs in the best way for you!
Cricut Mug Press vs. Mug Press vs. Oven Pressing
Because I’m often heavily influenced by information in tables, I figure I should create one for this comparison, it doesn’t contain much, but what it does show is a significant difference in these three mug sublimation methods. Certainly, take a look.
|Cricut Mug Press vs. Mug Press vs. Oven Pressing||Cricut Mug Press||Mug Press||Oven Pressing|
|Mug Press Time||6 minutes||45 seconds to 2 minutes||14 minutes|
|Heat Safe Tape Required?||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Full-Mug Wraparound Sublimation?||No||No||Can be Done with Creativity, But Not Typical|
|Max Mug Size||14-16oz||11oz||Limited Only By Wrap Size|
|Prices||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price|
Now, that you know these easily comparable differences and similarities, let’s dig into the more loosey-goosey elements to help you decide the best way to make sublimation mugs for you.
Do You Have to Have a Mug Press to Sublimate a Mug?
In short, no, as noted you can sublimate with a convection oven. However, if you want to sublimate with a convection oven, you need to have a silicone wrap to hold the design firmly onto the mug.
What Do You Need to Sublimate a Mug?
Regardless which method you plan to use, you will need a few tools to help you learn to sublimate mugs:
- Sublimation-Ready Mugs
- Heat-Safe Tape
- Sublimation Paper
- Sublimation Printer
But, you CAN sublimate without buying the paper and printer by sourcing pre-printed sublimation designs. For example, I have a friend who really enjoys crafting this way. So explore that option, if you aren’t interested in investing in the printer and paper. If you are interested in investing in a sublimation printer, find out which sublimation printer is the best here.
What Kind of Files Do You Use to Sublimate a Mug?
You can, certainly, use any image type that you can open on your computer and print on your sublimation paper. That could be a JPG, SVG, PNG, or anything, for instance. You could conceivably even use Excel or Word files. Because you’re simply printing the design, then applying it to the mug, there is no special file type required.
Also, if you are looking for some ideas or maybe a free design, you can check out my library here.
What Kind of Mugs Can Each Method Sublimate?
Certainly, the mugs that you can sublimate on don’t change based on the method you use. Finding a sublimation-ready mug is not difficult, but it must be sublimation-ready.
For example, I’m often asked “can you sublimate on Dollar Tree mugs”, for instance. No, you cannot. But that doesn’t change based on the method – no matter if you use the oven, the Cricut or the standard mug press, you’re not going to get consistent, good results when using non-sublimation-ready mugs.
Most importantly, mugs for sublimation have a special coating that allows the gasses from the sublimation dyes to penetrate the surface allowing it to last the life of the mug.
What Else Can You Sublimate on With Each Sublimation Method?
So, if you’re just wanting to make standard, simple coffee mugs, this question may not be pertinent to you. But if you’re looking for more flexibility in the sublimation process, this might factor into your decision-making. So, I wanted to explore the options fully, to give you a better idea of where you might find “pinch points”.
- Cricut Mug Press
- There are only so many things that will fit inside the Cricut Mug Press, specifically mugs with straight sides only. So, you can sublimate on a few materials like A Skinny Tumbler. On the other hand, the shape of the machine limits the size and shape of the mugs you can use – and anything else you might want to sublimate.
- Mug Press
- Similarly, the traditional mug presses are one shape: round, like the Cricut Mug Press. Additionally, like the Cricut product, this structure will often limit what you might sublimate in the machine. But, if you’re working with a round blank, you can purchase different attachments for mug presses (typically) to allow you to sublimate in a cone shape or larger mugs.
- Oven Method
- If it can fit in the oven and you can snap a wrap around it, you can sublimate it in the oven. For example, there are a wide variety of silicone wraps, from standard-size mugs all the way up to 20oz skinny tumblers. And because the silicone is stretchy, even if the silicone wrap isn’t the perfect fit, you can usually work it on there. Because of this wide variety of silicone wraps, you have a wide variety of items that you can sublimate.
What Does the Cricut Mug Press Come With?
Therefore, if you want to purchase a Cricut Mug Press, you’ll want to be aware that everything to create your first project is not included in the box. The following are the items that will come in the box:
- Cricut Mug Press™ heat press for mugs
- USB cord for activation**
What Does a Typical Mug Press Come With?
Similarly, traditional mug presses come with the machine and one attachment to wrap around the mugs. Some mug presses come with a second attachment for a different-sized mug, but typically those must be purchased separately.
What Does Oven Pressing Come With?
Finally, convection ovens come with nothing tailor-made for sublimation. You’ll basically have to assemble your own “sublimation kit” of silicone wraps, convection oven, heat-safe tape, and sublimation paper.
Cricut Mug Press vs. Mug Press vs. Oven Pressing Price Comparison
There are too many mug presses out there for me to say there’s a definitive cost, but they range from $100 to $600, or more, depending on your needs.
There are too many mug presses out there for me to say there’s a definitive cost, but they range from $50 to $200, or more, depending on your needs.
Which is Best: Cricut Mug Press vs. Mug Press vs. Oven Pressing?
Above all, this is entirely dependent on your needs. If you are a first-time hobby mug-maker, then the Cricut Mug Press might be the best choice for you. It’s fast, convenient, and, it’s certainly, a little workhorse. To clarify, it knocks out mugs efficiently and effectively with professional-looking results.
But, if you’re wanting to make a LOT of mugs, a traditional mug press goes quite a bit faster, can give you very professional-looking results and is more versatile than the Cricut product.
But if you’re just having fun, trying out different things and want to keep yourself from investing too much in what could be a lark, maybe investing less than $100 on a convection oven and silicone wraps.
In conclusion, it’s really up to you and your needs. Only you will be able to decide which mug press is going to ba best for your business.
If you are still thinking about what path you’d like to take, but you found this article helpful, take a second and pin it to your favorite crafting Pinterest board so you can find it again fast when you’re thinking about the best sublimation method for you again.
Can You Use A Traditional Mug Heat Press With Infusible Ink Materials?
Yes you can. Cricut Infusible Ink Transfer sheets are a paper type material that you can cut with the Cricut Cutting Machine that contain a type of sublimation ink. For this to work you will still need sublimation or infusible ink compatible mug blanks. You also need a cutting machine like the Cricut Maker 3 or Cricut Joy to cut out the mug wrap.
Optionally, for each type of mug press you can use shrink wrap to make sure that the wrap is completely around the Cricut Mug Blank. You definitely want to use shrink wrap when you are using a convection or toaster oven for your personalized mugs.