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Selecting the best sublimation printer for phone cases can make or break your custom design game, and we are here to help every step of the way! If you’re aiming for top-notch, long-lasting prints, understanding the nuances of print resolution, ink types, and maximizing your investment is crucial. Without delay, let’s explore your options to ensure your designs on phone cases pop with color and detail, all while keeping an eye on the bottom line. You are closer than ever to achieve your dream of possessing vibrant, colorful cases for your phone!

Key Takeaways

  • The best sublimation printer for phone cases  must be compatible with sublimation inks and have a suitable print size, with options like the Sawgrass SG500 and Epson SureColor SC-F170 being popular. The Epson EcoTank ET-2720 can be converted affordably for beginners. Make sure to read our article if you are confused about the selection of suitable sublimation printers for purchase.
  • Key factors in quality sublimation printing include high-resolution output for detailed graphics, using high-quality sublimation ink and paper, and adapting designs to accommodate phone case features and dimensions for optimal transfer.[1]
  • Efficient sublimation printing requires a robust process: proper preparation of the phone case surface, accurate heat and pressure application during heat pressing, and best practices in aftercare to ensure durability and quality of the printed cases.

Choosing the Right Sublimation Printer

Phone case sublimation blanks and accessories

Entering the world of sublimation printing, you’ll need a dependable ally – a sublimation printer. But determining the perfect fit for your phone case sublimation endeavor can be a challenge. The choice largely depends on the printer’s maximum print size, compatibility with sublimation inks, and cost-effectiveness.

You might consider the Sawgrass SG500, lauded for its high-quality dye sublimation technology and suitable print size for phone cases. Or perhaps the Epson SureColor SC-F170, a beginner-friendly option admired for its simplicity and impressive resolution. Other factors like the printer’s features, such as Wi-Fi connectivity and compatibility with different operating systems, also contribute to its versatility and convenience.

And if you’re on a tight budget, you could convert an existing printer, like the Epson EcoTank ET-2720, into a sublimation printer by replacing the standard ink with sublimation ink.

Print Quality and Resolution

One crucial factor determines the quality of your printed design on a phone case – resolution. High resolution is key to achieving the vibrancy and precision your custom graphics deserve. For instance, the Epson EcoTank ET-2720, even after being converted to a sublimation printer, offers a high maximum resolution of 5760 x 1440 dpi, ensuring finely detailed and durable prints. Similarly, the Sawgrass SG500 offers 4800 x 1200 dpi, beneficial for producing sharp prints.

Keep in mind, with a higher resolution, your design will appear more clear and intricate on the phone case.

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Compatibility with Sublimation Inks

A high-quality sublimation printer needs to be paired with equally high-quality sublimation inks to produce vibrant and long-lasting prints. The Sawgrass SG500, for instance, is compatible with Sublijet UHD sublimation inks known for their brilliant color performance. The Epson SureColor SC-F170, on the other hand, uses genuine Epson dye-sublimation ink technology to ensure high color saturation and contrast. The right sublimation ink can truly make your phone case designs come alive!

Assessing the Cost-Effectiveness

While considering the cost of a sublimation printer, it’s important to assess the long-term savings as well. Purpose-built sublimation printers may seem pricier initially but can lead to cost savings due to optimized ink usage and reduced waste.

Converting an existing inkjet printer into a sublimation printer can be a cost-effective entry point if you’re on a tight budget. Also, comprehensive sublimation printing packages, like the Epson SureColor SC-F170, can provide cost savings by including all necessary components to begin printing.

Preparing Your Design for Sublimation

Colored phone cases seen on a MAC screen

Once you’ve chosen your sublimation printer, the next step is to let your creativity flow. Preparing your design for sublimation involves:

  1. Creating custom graphics
  2. Adjusting them for heat transfer onto phone cases
  3. Sizing your design accurately for your phone case, which can be achieved by scaling the images in graphic design software settings.

Be it a captivating pattern, a personal photo, or a unique work of art, your design breathes life into your custom phone case.

Creating Custom Graphics

Several sublimation phone cases with different designs

Crafting custom graphics for your phone case requires a bit of artistry, and of course, a good design software. Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator can be your best friends for creating highly detailed and quality images. For those without advanced design skills, Canva offers user-friendly pre-made templates.[2]

While designing, remember to consider the phone case’s unique contours, camera cutouts, and placement of buttons and ports to ensure your custom graphics align properly. Offering a range of unique, custom-designed phone case options can distinguish your business from competitors, attracting a broader customer base. Customizing phone cases has never been more important for businesses looking to stand out in the market.

Adjusting Images for Transfer

Once your design is ready, the next step is to adjust it for sublimation. This involves mirroring the design and adjusting its dimensions to slightly exceed the phone case size, a technique called ‘bleed’ that ensures edge-to-edge coverage and avoids white borders after transferring. Precision in image scaling and positioning is critical to a successful transfer, so it’s recommended to use graphic design software that allows for these adjustments.

Selecting the Right Sublimation Paper

With your design ready, the printing process can commence. But wait, have you chosen the right sublimation paper? The choice of sublimation paper significantly affects the final print quality, especially for hard substrates like phone cases. High-quality sublimation paper, such as TexPrint R or A-SUB, is known for bright, vivid colors, clear text, minimal mottling, and high ink transfer rates. Some papers even come with a special coating layer that promotes more efficient ink release when heat is applied, enhancing the transfer quality.

The Sublimation Printing Process Explained

Flowers designed on paper in heat press machine

With your design now printed on the sublimation paper, the next step is to animate it using the sublimation process. Sublimation printing on phone cases uses a machine that applies heat and pressure to dye, creating permanent, high-resolution full-color prints on specially coated surfaces. To achieve a successful sublimation print, follow these steps:

  1. Print the design onto sublimation paper.
  2. Position the sublimation paper on the phone case.
  3. Place the phone case and sublimation paper in the heat press.
  4. Apply heat and pressure according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  5. Remove the phone case from the heat press and let it cool.
  6. Peel off the sublimation paper to reveal the vibrant, full-color print.

By following these steps, you can create professional-quality sublimation prints on phone cases.

The heat press settings play a crucial role in the final outcome, with optimal temperature and time settings, such as 400 degrees for 60 seconds with a Cricut easy press, being essential for vibrant and accurate dye transfer onto the phone case.

Printing Your Design

The first step in the sublimation process is printing your design. Before you hit the ‘print’ button, ensure that the image is mirrored in the print settings. Also, select ‘high’ quality and ‘photographic’ for color and quality settings in your design software to achieve the best print output.

A pro tip is to print a test page on regular paper before sublimating to verify image size and placement, saving sublimation materials and ensuring precision in the final product.

Preparing the Sublimation Blanks

The next step is preparing your sublimation blank, in this case, the phone case. Start by removing any protective film from the sublimation surface and clean it to ensure there are no fingerprints that could potentially interfere with the design transfer.

Next, carefully center the design over the phone case for proper placement. Use heat-resistant tape to secure the sublimation paper to the phone case blank, which prevents any movement that might result in ghosting or blurring of the transferred image during the heat press stage.

Heat Pressing Techniques

The final step in the sublimation process is using the heat press. Set your heat press to the recommended temperature and time settings for the specific sublimation blank and ink you’re using. Apply light, even pressure with the heat press to correctly transfer the design onto the sublimation surface.

To prevent the heat press from ink bleed and promote even heat distribution during sublimation, place butcher paper over the design. It’s vital to assess the print quality post-sublimation and make necessary adjustments if the transfer is not satisfactory.

Essential Accessories for Sublimating Phone Cases

Robotic arm working on sublimation project

A sublimation printer isn’t the only necessity for successful phone case sublimation printing; other essential accessories are also involved. These include:

  • A heat press
  • Sublimation paper
  • Sublimation ink
  • Phone case blanks
  • And a few others.

Recognizing the absence of other essential accessories underlines the significance of the initially mentioned tools in the successful sublimation of phone cases, ensuring the entire surface is covered.

Heat Tape and Butcher Paper

Two of the key accessories in the sublimation process are heat tape and butcher paper. Heat tape is used to secure the design onto the sublimation blank, ensuring that it does not shift during the heat pressing process. Butcher paper is placed above and below the sublimation blank to prevent ink bleed from affecting the heat press or subsequent projects.[3] Don’t miss our guide on detailed reviews of heat tape for sublimation.

Using disposable protective sheets like parchment paper or butcher paper for each press cycle can prevent quality issues and save time.

Protective Coatings and Inserts

Another accessory to consider is metal inserts. Using a metal insert during the sublimation process offers several benefits:

  • It helps maintain the shape of the phone case, preventing it from warping under the heat.
  • It ensures that the design is smoothly transferred onto the case.
  • It provides additional support and durability to the phone case.

By using metal inserts, you can enhance the quality and longevity of your sublimated phone cases.

After the sublimation process, applying a clear protective spray or laminate can enhance the durability of the phone case design.

Optimizing Durability and Quality

Equipment in lab to be used for testing

Congratulations on successfully sublimating your phone case! Now, it’s important to ensure the longevity and quality of your sublimated phone cases. This involves following the manufacturer’s instructions for care and maintenance, handling the phone cases with care, and storing them properly.

Testing for Heat and Pressure Accuracy

To ensure that your sublimation prints are of high quality, it’s vital to test for heat and pressure accuracy. Accurate heat application is integral to the sublimation process on phone cases to ensure designs are vivid and lasting. A heat press test kit can be used for precise temperature verification.

In addition, uniform light pressure during heat pressing is crucial for high-quality, consistent sublimation prints on phone cases, and utilizing a pressure gauge can help achieve this.

Aftercare for Long-lasting Prints

Aftercare practices are key to maintaining the look and longevity of your sublimated phone cases. Here are some tips to help you:

  • Regularly wipe them with a soft, damp cloth
  • Use mild, non-abrasive cleaning products
  • Properly store them in a dry, cool environment
  • Avoid direct sunlight exposure to prevent fading

Following these practices can help prolong the life and vibrancy of the design on your phone cases.

It’s always a good idea to apply final finishing touches before packaging the product for distribution or retail.

Expanding Your Business with Sublimation Printing

Having mastered the skill of sublimation printing for phone cases, you’re now ready to grow your business. Sublimation printing is a cost-effective method that helps businesses expand their product offerings and increase their customer base, while also maximizing profits. Through efficient production of large quantities of items, you can take on large-scale promotions or fundraisers, expanding your business reach while avoiding minimum order quantities and setup fees.

A Wider Range of Customizable Products

Sublimation printing enables you to personalize a virtually limitless range of substrates, such as fabric, glass, plastic, metal, canvas, wood, acrylic, vinyl, and nylon. This allows you to expand your offerings to include products such as drinkware, coasters, tote bags, ornaments, and of course, phone cases.

Sublimation printing, often done with the help of a sublimation machine, is commonly used for merchandise and promotional products, offering opportunities to diversify your business’s product range.

Strategies to Fulfill Orders Efficiently

The key to a thriving business lies in the efficient fulfillment of orders. Here are some tips to help you maximize your production efficiency and decrease case material costs:

  • Maximize the number of phone cases printed and pressed simultaneously
  • Efficiently use transfer paper to avoid waste in unprinted areas
  • Minimize time spent on perfect image placement

By following these tips, you can enhance your production efficiency and reduce costs.

Providing orders ahead of schedule can significantly enhance customer satisfaction and establish a reputation of reliability for efficient order fulfillment. Lastly, businesses should be proactive in addressing potential fulfillment challenges by partnering with vendors who provide comprehensive support and training.


We’ve walked through the entire journey of phone case sublimation, from choosing the right sublimation printer to creating your custom designs, to the actual printing process, and finally to the business aspect. Now, you’re equipped with the knowledge and insights to start your venture into sublimation printing. The world of custom phone case designs is now at your fingertips, waiting for you to bring your unique creations to life!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best sublimation printer for phone cases?

For phone cases and small items, the Sawgrass Virtuoso SG500 or Epson EcoTank ET-2400 are excellent choices for a desktop sublimation printer. Larger projects like banners and shirts would require a wide-format printer such as the HP Stitch S500.

Can you sublimate on a phone case?

Yes, you can sublimate on a phone case by using a case that can accept sublimation, a printer, sublimation ink, and a heat press or iron, along with sublimation paper. The most popular use for blank phone cases is to be printed on using a 2D sublimation printing process.

What temperature is needed for phone case sublimation?

For phone case sublimation, the recommended temperature is 350-400°F, and the time is 80-120 seconds. This ensures a better and vivid transfer image.

What factors should I consider when choosing a sublimation printer?

When choosing a sublimation printer, it’s important to consider factors such as maximum print size, compatibility with sublimation inks, and cost-effectiveness. Additionally, features like Wi-Fi connectivity and compatibility with different operating systems can enhance its versatility and convenience.

How can I ensure high-quality prints?

To ensure high-quality prints, use a high-resolution printer with high-quality sublimation inks and paper for vibrant and detailed results. These combinations offer bright colors, clear text, and high ink transfer rates in your prints.


  1. Research Guides: All About Images: What is Resolution? (n.d.-b). https://guides.lib.umich.edu/c.php?g=282942&p=1885350
  2. CorelDRAW Graphics Suite | Free Trial. (n.d.-b). https://www.coreldraw.com/en/tips/sublimation/software/
  3. Wikipedia contributors. (2024b, January 15). Butcher paper. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butcher_paper
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