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Article: Sublimating on Clear Subli from CMB

Sublimating on Clear Subli from CMB

Sublimation on the new Clear Acrylic from CMB

This is a quick little tutorial on how I sublimated on this product. Please note, settings for both cutting and sublimating will vary based on your laser/heat press. This is what works for me in particular, and it should provide you with a really good baseline to start with 🙂


My Machines:

-Glowforge Pro

-Mira 9

-Epson 8550 Printer

-HPN Signature PRO 15" x 15" Auto-Open Heat Press


Other Supplies:

-Hiipoo Sublimation Ink

-HTVRONT Sublimation Paper

-Butcher Paper (Blowout paper. You can use copy paper as well)

-Heat Tape

-Microfiber Cloth


The Process:

-Prep your new fancy acrylic. Take the plastic off of both sides (This is very important!) You should have one nice glossy side, and one side that is matte and has more of a texture. We will refer to this matte side as the “white side”. This is the side that will make contact with the sublimation paper and produce your design. 

Sublimation Clear Acrylic from CMB Acrylic

-Next up, place your acrylic in your laser, just as you normally would. I am sure that you could mask the glossy side if you choose (I did not). Now which way do you place it? This part is probably more about preference than there being an actual “right” or “wrong” way. I tested it both ways and had very little difference in result. However I definitely came out of that experiment with a preference, which is what I am going to share here. 


I cut my acrylic RAISED off of my laser bed with the glossy side up. When I tried it the other way, it worked fine, but the mirror-don’t mirror thing really boggled my brain ;) This felt the easiest for me and it worked perfectly. 


I cut this with my normal white acrylic settings. I will share my settings, however, like I said above, we all know that no 2 lasers are exactly alike. 

Glowforge Pro: PG Medium White Acrylic

Mira 9: 30 Speed/75 Power


Let’s talk about flashback…


So, I did have a little bit of an issue with this. I was pretty sad because I thought I had several ruined pieces, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that even though they initially looked rough, it wasn’t noticeable in the design. I did use a damp microfiber cloth to clean it off before sublimating. (Okay, okay….So I also did a little no no, and I tried some denatured alcohol on the white side to see if it helped more than water or destroyed the white coating. It did neither, so just stick with the water and play it safe lol)

 Sublimation Clear Acrylic from CMB Acrylic

Quick photo of the “Worst case scenario. These had the worst case of flashback and also had a super light design. It’s visible from the front, but minimally. If you do have this issue, I’d suggest darker designs which will cover it completely.

So, now we are ready to sublimate!! This is the fun part!! 


-Choose your designs. Now, how you do this is on you. Lining these up will always be a challenge. I will share my secret, because it’s super easy for beginners. I print out a whole sheet of images. If it is a pattern, I print appropriate size blocks. (1.5 in to be exact) and if it is a more detailed image, I add a tiny offset (bleed) around the image.

Sublimating on Acrylic

This is what my typical sheets look like. I cram as much as humanly possible on the page before I print. I cut it all out and save the extras for later. Trust me on this, leave as little white space as you can, but make sure you can cut it all out  ;)



Now, those of you that have been subbing for a while are going to have a hard time with this one…trust me, I did too.


DO NOT MIRROR YOUR PRINT!!!


I know, this goes against everything we know. Make sure to change your settings so that your prints are not mirrored.


-So now, you should have a sheet full of goodies to put on your blank pieces. Cut them out and grab your heat tape! I am sure you know, this part requires a bit of practice. Line your pieces up WITH THE WHITE SIDE DOWN ON THE PRINTED SHEET and tape them down really good. Make sure you capture the piece of acrylic as well as your sublimation paper and the blowout sheet under it. This will keep your pieces from shifting during the press. I use a lot of tape. I forgot to grab a photo of this step, but it’s probably for the best. It’s not pretty. ;) I way over do it so that nothing moves. 

Sublimating on Acrylic





-Once you have everything taped down like you want it, throw another sheet of blowout paper down on the bottom platen of your heat press to protect it. Take your paper/acrylic/tape creation and flip it over.


SUBLIMATION PAPER SIDE UP TOWARD THE HEATING ELEMENT ON YOUR PRESS! 


So the order from the top down is:

Blowout Paper

Sublimation Paper

Acrylic Piece

Blowout Paper.


-Press settings that I have been using successfully:

Medium Pressure

385 Degrees

45 Seconds


-As soon as your press is complete, immediately take your paper/pieces out of the press (Pro Tip: Grab the paper edges, don’t burn yourself!) and place them under something flat and heavy. This prevents warping while the acrylic is hot and pliable. I personally use a heavy cutting board with a textbook (Or a 12 pack of Coke in a pinch lol) on top. Let the pieces cool completely before trying to take them off of the paper. 


-Once the acrylic is cool, I usually give it 20 mins or so, you’re ready for the big reveal! This is the part where you are going to fall in love, I promise! ;) Peel all the tape off and reveal these beauties!


They should come right off the paper, but occasionally you may have a tiny bit of paper stuck. Not to worry, grab your damp microfiber cloth and give it a little scrub. 

Sublimating on Acrylic

And that's it!! Aren’t they amazing?!? 🙂


Last little note: To seal or not to seal….


I am not sure what Melody recommends for this. I tried a little scratch test, and the white sublimation coating is pretty durable! It will scratch with some force though. I used some clear gloss sealer on the back of some of my pieces, and noticed no effect on the image at all, but as with anything, test first on a screwup and try at your own risk ;)


If you made it through this long winded tutorial…I hope it helped, or at least answered a question or 2 you may have had. If you ever have any other questions, my inbox is always open. I’m not an expert, but I can always provide you with lots of “what not to do” stories ;) Have fun!!


-Ashlee Grimm, Silver Lining Design Company

Check out all of Ashlee's Digital Files Here

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