Can You Sublimate Over Sublimation On Tumblers In Layers?

Can you sublimate over sublimation? This is a topic that lacks a straightforward answer; it largely depends on various factors. To delve into it, we need to consider that sublimation is feasible on polyester-based fabrics, and it’s possible to sublimate over a polyester shirt that has already undergone the sublimation process.

However, there’s a darker side to this scenario. Attempting sublimation over an already sublimated area can lead to complications. The existing sublimated colors on the shirt may be adversely affected, resulting in issues such as ghosting, bending, or bleeding of sublimation ink. 

This can further escalate to problems like color melting and mixing, potentially causing undesirable outcomes. In some cases, excessive heat during double sublimation can even cause a yellowing effect.

In essence, while it’s technically feasible to sublimate over a previously sublimated surface, the outcome can be unpredictable and may not yield the desired results due to the complexities involved.

Can you Sublimate Over Sublimation?

In sublimation, it primarily works with two types of substrates. The first category includes hard substrates coated with a polymer layer. The second category comprises fabrics, particularly those with a high polyester content or 100% polyester t-shirts.

The Hard Substances Guide

Let’s begin by discussing hard substrates like mugs, frosted glass, plates, and tumblers in the context of sublimation. The approach you take depends on your specific requirements: whether you intend to sublimate over an existing sublimated image or apply sublimation to the opposite side of the substrate after removing the original image.

If your goal is to sublimate an image over an already sublimated one, it’s generally not recommended. Doing so can lead to complications such as ink melting, resulting in ghosting, bending issues, and color bleeding. However, the substrate will still accept the sublimation ink.

On the other hand, if you plan to re-sublimate on the opposite side of the substrate, it can be done at a lower temperature and for a longer pressing duration. This approach is safer and less likely to damage the existing sublimated image.

Now, what if you’ve removed the sublimation image and want to re-sublimate it? The process of removing sublimation ink is typically reserved for correcting mistakes. Without removing the sublimation image, you won’t be able to re-sublimate the substrate, as the existing sublimated colors will still be present and may show through the new image.

Here’s a safe method: suppose you’ve made a mistake and removed the sublimation ink, resulting in a faded image. You can re-sublimate a darker image over the lighter, previously ruined one. Ensure the darker image covers the faded sublimation print to achieve a satisfactory result.

Follow these steps:

  1. SXet the temperature to 480°F for 2 minutes to remove as much of the existing sublimation ink as possible.
  2. Wrap the substrate with butcher paper during this process.
  3. The sublimated image will become yellowish, and the colors will fade. Be cautious as the substrate will be extremely hot, and use protective gloves.
  4. Allow the substrate to cool down.
  5. Wrap the darker printed design around the substrate and re-sublimate it.

This method can yield successful results, as long as the polymer coating on the substrate’s surface remains intact and functional. Here is an example of the outcome achieved using this technique. It demonstrates that re-sublimating over sublimation can be effective when done correctly.

For T-shirts

As previously mentioned, if a fabric has already undergone sublimation, it will still be receptive to further sublimation, regardless of the colors in the original sublimated image. In such cases, you have the option to sublimate on areas adjacent to the existing image or select an ideal location around the image to apply new sublimation.

Is it possible to sublimate a tumbler twice?

Yes, you can indeed sublimate a stainless steel tumbler twice. However, it’s crucial to use a lower temperature when sublimating again to avoid damaging the existing sublimated image on the opposite side.

On the other hand, you intend to sublimate on top of an already sublimated image, you should refer to the method described above for over-sublimation on a mug to correct a sublimation mistake. In this case, the tumbler should initially have a light-colored image that can be covered by a darker image during the over-sublimation process.

Can you layer sublimation on mugs?

Indeed, you can apply sublimation designs in layers. However, it’s essential to take precautions and cover the already sublimated image with butcher paper or a Teflon sheet. This protective layer will shield the existing sublimated image from excessive heat, preventing it from turning yellowish or getting damaged.

If you’re considering layering similar to heat transfer vinyl (HTV), you can achieve this effect with sublimation on HTV materials, similar to techniques like Siser Easysubli and white glitter HTV.

What is the effect of heat pressing over sublimation?

It’s crucial to monitor the temperature carefully when applying a second round of heat pressing to a sublimated image. Reapplying heat can potentially lead to issues like ghosting and color lifting. Therefore, if you intend to perform a double heat press for sublimation, it’s advisable to lower the temperature to minimize these problems.

What is the best way to reuse sublimation paper?

If the sublimated image on the mug hasn’t fully transferred, you can apply heat again to ensure complete ink transfer without causing any shadowing or ghosting of the existing image. However, attempting to reprint on the same sublimation paper is generally not recommended. Reusing sublimation paper for printing is likely to result in faded outcomes.

The effectiveness of a second transfer also depends on the quality of the sublimation paper. If the paper is of high quality and releases all the ink during the initial heat exposure, it may not be suitable for reuse.


I trust you now have a clear answer to your question: Can you sublimate over sublimation? Yes, you can, but the results may not be as ideal as you expect. It’s important to carefully consider and follow the guidelines mentioned above if you plan to re-sublimate. If you still have any confusion or questions about sublimation printing, please feel free to ask in the comment section below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *