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Waterslide or Sublimation: What Should I Use?

Have you been seeing the trendy beer glass tumblers and are dying to get your hands on some? We are taking a look at decal printing, and are comparing the options: sublimation and waterslide transfer decals! 

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Both are great for customizing products and apparel, but which one is better for YOU? Let’s dive in!

For the comparison I used a design from the Glass and Tumbler Sublimation Bundle on So Fontsy! This bundle includes over 140 design for 90% off including some great ones for Father's Day, which aren't always easy to find!

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If you've been around Silhouette School Blog, you know that Sublimation is a special type of printing that allows you to transfer an image onto polyester fabric, plastic, paper, metal, glass and more! 

It works by first printing your design with special ink onto special sublimation paper. Then you place the paper on top of your sublimation blank and press them together with a heat press to transfer the design directly into the fabric. 

The result is vibrant colors that won’t fade with washing because they become part of the substrate itself. It's an ideal solution for crafters who want permanent designs that maintain their color over time.

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Waterslide Transfer Decals are another popular option for customizing non-porous items like mugs, cups, signs, etc. 

Instead of using a machine to print your design onto paper or fabric, you print it on special waterslide decal paper with a regular inkjet printer. In order to make the design stay you will then need to spray it with a coat of clear sealer. My favorite to use is Bull's Eye Shellac spray. The waterslide paper is then placed in water, which will allow you to slide off the back and use it as a decal. 

It’s easy to do at home with some trial and error. The downside is that these types of transfers will probably fade over time so they may not be suitable for long-term projects.

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Pros of Sublimation:

* Permanent designs

* Vibrant, long-lasting colors

* Can be applied to many surfaces such as glass, paper, fabric, wood and metal

* Can print multi color designs.

* Quick and Easy

Pros of Waterslide Transfer Decals:

* Easy to do at home

* Cheaper than other methods

* Can print multi color designs

* Can print on your home inkjet printer

* Can use it with Silhouette Studios Print and Cut

* Can use any non-porous blank

Cons of Sublimation:

* Special type of ink and printer is required for transfer

* Only can be used with special blanks that have a poly based coating.

* Is more expensive to get started

Cons of Waterslide Transfer Decals:

* Not as durable as sublimation

* Can not be used on porous surfaces.

* May fade over time depending on the type of sealer used.

* Can be time consuming having to wait at each step for things to dry.

I made the same project using both methods to show the difference. The design I used came from the Glass and Tumbler Sublimation Bundle available over at So Fontsy for 90% off! 

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I used Sublimation on the frosted glass can blank (left). The colors were amazing and long-lasting, while the design was sharp and easily recognizable. The glass blank I used had a poly based coating which made it ideal for sublimation.

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For the Waterslide Transfer Decals I used a clear can blank (right) . To make this design easier to transfer, I had to delete portions of it and reduce its size. Crafting this project with waterslide paper (over sublimation) was time-consuming due to the necessity of editing the design and allowing each step of the process adequate drying time. 

For more information on how to create the waterslide paper can glass, check out the blog over at So Fontsy that walks you through the step by step!

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Both methods are great for certain situations! Consider your needs and budget when deciding between sublimation or waterslide transfer decals. Sublimation is great for permanent designs that will maintain their vibrancy over time, while Waterslide Transfer Decals offer an affordable and easier way to customize items. 

Don't forget to grab these dad designs and SO MANY MORE in the Glass and Tumbler Sublimation Bundle!

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Note: This post may contain affiliate links. By clicking on them and purchasing products through my links, I receive a small commission. That's what helps fund Silhouette School so I can keep buying new Silhouette-related products to show you how to get the most out of your machine!

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