Sublimination Printing on wood to laser cut

Hello everyone. I am getting into sublimation printing and would like to print on wood before cutting on my Glowforge. Does anyone know what is safe? I have seen people heat press laminating sheets onto wood which makes a great substrate for sublimation but I guess that is vinyl and not safe to cut?

How about a coating of Minwax Polycrylic? Anyone know if that is safe to laser or how I can find out?

Thanks so much for any information :slight_smile:

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@amanda2 does that through her Etsy shop - she may have advice :slight_smile:

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For future questions, any commercially available paint, stain, or finish should have an MSDS (material safety data sheet) available. It will list combustion by-products. You can always go to the manufacturer’s website and dig that up. I have no experience with them.

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Most laminating sheets are actually polyester (this is why they work with sublimation!), which is safe to cut. Obviously you want to get the MSDS and check before using, but you’ll likely be fine with that.

Some people have subbed directly on plywood with no coating. There is a FB group for doing sublimation with the GF (or other lasers), so you may also find some good info there.

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Thank you!

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Yes I print with UV vs sub but similar. The sheets I use are Dura-Lar and you can also use Mylar. Both are laser safe and Blick Art has an adhesive backed version online of Dura-Lar. I have seen in the FB groups some who buy a wood specifically for sublimation called Unisub I believe.

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I sublimate on laser-cut wood, but I cut first, then prep and sublimate. (I don’t mask my wood, but lightly sand the burn marks off.) Polycrylic works great for sublimation.

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Thank you

I would buy unisub MDF or hardboard from a trusted vendor instead of these type of shortcuts.

I think 12x20 sheets is about $11, plus shipping. The end result I feel is just better.

From what I have read in my sub groups, those who have tried your method do fine, but most have multiple issues getting the polyacrylic to release the paper after subbing, even after drying for days, laminate sheets aren’t properly adhered because of uneven pressure from the press or the surface.

$11 doesn’t seem so bad when you consider all the steps that are eliminated with a proper piece of substrate.

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I’m considering getting into sublimation… I was wondering if anyone on the thread had updates on sourcing laser-cuttable, sublimatable wood or MDF?

I looked up Unisub MDF but struck out on a quick search. Is it still out there?

Edit: Here it is. Still, if there are other options lay it on me!

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I spray paint all of my wood with 2 coats of a white primer, sublimate the wood then it goes into the Glowforge for cutting.

I leave the heat press on the sublimated wood for 3 minutes.

Another technique is to heat press a clear laminate sheet to the painted wood before sublimation. Heat press laminate for only 60 seconds. After you sublimate the laminate heat press only stays on 90 seconds.

Sublimating 1/8 inch MDF did not work. The heat press caused bubbles on the other side of the MDF.

This same technique might work with a thicker MDF. .

White mat board is also great for sublimation!! You will have to use a rolling pin to make it flat again after the heat press.

The Baltic Birch I purchase is very light in color and I do not have to prime it before I sublimate it.

I absolutely love sublimating. @CMadok helped me when I started. I purchased an Epson Eco Tank and converted it into a sublimation printer. It was extremely EASY.

Also get a roll of white butcher paper. You want to put this on top of the wood before sublimating. You do not want the ink getting on your heat press.

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Great info, thanks a million. I’m probably going to get an Epson ET-15000 myself.

Any particular kind of white primer you use to prep wood for sublimation?

Good to see your ink/paper combo. I’m currently wrestling with that topic.

Edit to add: This week I have gone from “hmm I am probably getting into sublimation later this year” to “OK I’m probably buying a printer this week” to “I may as well just get it today.”

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Sorry, pardon my ignorance. What does it mean to sublimate wood?

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Dye sublimation is a way of using heat to transfer a printed image from a printer on to another surface that cannot be run through a printer - like a Tee Shirt or, in this case, a chunk of wood.

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Imagine that you print a color image, and transfer that image to an item like a shirt, sign blank, notebook cover, can cozy, mouse pad, laser cuttable plywood… all kinds of things. I guarantee you have seen stuff made this way, you probably own something.

“Sublimation” is the technical term for how the image moves off the paper onto the “substrate,” which is the item you are decorating. In practice people say “oh I did that with sublimation.”

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Great choice. Remember to get the larger sized sublimation paper. You are also going to need a funnel and throw away cups. This is when you take the original ink out of the bottle.

You will be using the ink bottles that come with the Epson printer. You will transfer the sublimation ink you purchase into the Epson ink bottles.

VERY VERY VERY IMPORTANT—- After you remove the Epson ink thoroughly wash the bottles before you put in the sublimation ink. Then thoroughly wash the sublimation ink bottles so you can put in the Epson ink.

Basically you are just transferring the ink. If you are not interested in saving the original Epson ink then you could just throw it out along with the sublimation ink bottles.

Any spray primer will work. You will also need high heat tape. The laminate pouches are optional. When you sublimate on laminate there is a glossy finish. The pouches need to be take apart and you will sublimate on the smooth side.

If you are not familiar with the Epson printer app —— IT SUCKS!!

You will want to transfer the ink before you set up the printer.

Remember to download the Epson app. You will finish setting up your printer with the Epson app. The directions that came with my printer did not tell me I would be finishing setting up with the app. Also have your router password ready.

Check YouTube to see if someone has turned the Epson printer your purchase into a sublimated printer.

I am SO EXCITED for you!!!

You will be forgetting about your Glowforge for several days because you are going have a blast sublimating everything!!!

Do not forget the white butcher paper and the white mat board.

If you have need help— I am here.

I have been sublimating for over a year and I like to think of myself as the “Sublimation Whisper”

I forgot to add— the sleeping Westie was sublimated on Baltic Birch—- no primer.

Do not sublimate on leather. After a couple of days the sublimated ink soaks into the leather.
I experimented six or seven ways and none of them worked.

Also if you are going to do any text remember to reverse the image.

I vividly remember how excited I was when I received all of my supplies from Amazon and then started sublimating.

Love and Hugs

Elena

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Well… technically it has a very specific definition - it describes the transition of a solid to a gas, without having the solid transition to a liquid first.

If you’ve ever been at higher altitude in the sun after a snow storm, you’ll have seen the snow “steaming”. Water is a substance that can sublimate. In this case it goes directly from ice to vapor, it doesn’t turn to liquid water first (that’s also why ice cubes will “shrivel” when left in the freezer for a long time).

Same thing is happening in a Dye Sub transfer. The ink vaporizes when heated, and then condenses on the cooler surface the ink is being transferred to.

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This company (local to me in NC) has just started manufacturing their own sublimatable MDF.

If you choose 1-sided it starts at only $5/sheet.

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Great link, thanks!

Oh I know, my head is already spinning! This will be fun.

Edit to add: Bought the ET-15000 today. Will be trying InkOwl ink and paper. Need to find some good blanks for practice. Going to be a few days before everything is in.

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