How to Sublimate on Clear Acrylic for Stunning Results

How to Sublimate on Clear Acrylic for Stunning Results

Hey there, fellow crafters and DIY enthusiasts! I've been obsessed with sublimating on clear acrylic lately, and I just have to share my excitement with you. It's like magic watching your designs come to life on these sleek, modern pieces.

But let's be real - it can be a bit tricky at first. I've had my fair share of trial and error, but I've learned so much along the way. And now, I'm here to spill all the secrets so you can create stunning acrylic pieces too!

No matter if you're a complete novice or an experienced crafter seeking to improve your technique, this is the perfect place to learn about sublimating on clear acrylic. Get ready to immerse yourself in the world of creating beautiful, personalized pieces that showcase your unique style!

Table Of Contents:

Choosing the Right Acrylic for Sublimation

When it comes to sublimation on acrylic, choosing the right material is crucial. You want your designs to pop, your edges to be clean, and your final product to be top-notch. But with so many options out there, how do you know which acrylic to choose? I've been there, my friend. I've spent countless hours researching and testing different types of acrylic, trying to find the perfect one for my sublimation projects. And let me tell you, not all acrylics are created equal. Trust me, I've learned that the hard way. But don't worry, I'm here to share my knowledge and experience with you, so you can make an informed decision and choose the best acrylic for your needs.

Non-Unisub vs. Unisub Acrylic

First things first, let's talk about the two main types of sublimation cast acrylic: non-Unisub and Unisub. What's the difference, you ask? Well, let me break it down for you. Non-Unisub acrylic is the cheaper option, but it comes with a catch. When I first started using it, I noticed that it had bubbles on the side, which made a quarter inch of it unusable. Talk about frustrating. I mean, who wants to waste that much material? On the other hand, Unisub acrylic is a bit pricier, but it's worth every penny. I've never had any issues with the material, and it always gives me a flawless finish. Plus, I don't have to worry about losing any of it to pesky bubbles.

Material Quality and Cutting Experience

Now, let's talk about cutting. I used a CO2 laser to cut both types of acrylic, and let me tell you, it was an experience. It took three passes to get through the material, but the end result was worth it. The non-Unisub acrylic had a slightly cloudy appearance after cutting, which wasn't ideal. But the Unisub acrylic? It was crystal clear and looked amazing. I know what you're thinking - "But what about the cost?" I hear you. The non-Unisub acrylic cost me $9.95 for an 11.8 by 11.8-inch sheet, while the Unisub acrylic was slightly more expensive but comes in larger sheet sizes. Trust me, the extra cost is worth it for the quality and usability you get in return.

Sublimation Process and Techniques

Alright, now that we've covered the different types of acrylic, let's dive into the nitty-gritty of the sublimation process. Because let's be real, even the best acrylic won't do you any good if you don't know how to use it properly.

Optimal Heat Press Settings

First up, let's talk about heat press settings. After much trial and error, I've found that the sweet spot for sublimating on clear acrylic is 360 degrees for 60 seconds with medium pressure. Trust me, these settings will give you the best results every time. But don't just take my word for it - experiment with different settings and see what works best for you and your specific project. Every heat press is different, so it's important to find the settings that give you the best results.

Protection During Pressing

Now, let's talk about protection. And no, I'm not talking about the kind of protection you use on a first date. I'm talking about protecting your acrylic during the sublimation process. I always use blowout paper, tape, and a Teflon sheet when pressing my acrylic. The blowout paper helps to absorb any excess ink, while the tape keeps everything in place. And the Teflon sheet? It's like a superhero cape for your acrylic - it protects it from any damage during the pressing process. Trust me, taking these extra steps will save you a lot of headaches in the long run. There's nothing worse than spending hours on a project only to have it ruined because you didn't take the proper precautions.

Cooling Methods to Prevent Warping

Last but not least, let's talk about cooling. And no, I'm not talking about the kind of cooling you do with a cold beer on a hot summer day. I'm talking about cooling your acrylic after sublimation to prevent warping. I've found that the best way to cool down my acrylic is with a stack of plywood on top. I know, it sounds a bit unconventional, but it works like a charm. The weight of the plywood helps to keep the acrylic flat as it cools, preventing any warping or distortion. And there you have it, folks - my top tips and techniques for sublimating on clear acrylic. But don't just take my word for it - try them out for yourself and see the amazing results you can achieve.

Final Results and Cost Comparison

Alright, we've covered the different types of acrylic, the sublimation process, and some tips and techniques for getting the best results. But what about the final product? And more importantly, what about the cost?

Appearance Against Different Backgrounds

First, let's talk about appearance. I tested both the non-Unisub and Unisub acrylic against various backgrounds to see how they looked. And let me tell you, the results were surprising. Both types of acrylic looked great against a white background, with clean edges and vibrant colors. But when I tested them against a floral background, the Unisub acrylic really shone. The colors were brighter and more vivid, and the edges were crisp and clean.

Peeling Off Another Layer

But wait, there's more. When I first sublimated the Unisub acrylic, I was a bit disappointed with the results. The colors didn't seem as bright as I had hoped, and I was starting to wonder if I had made a mistake in choosing this material. But then I discovered something amazing - there was another layer of plastic on top of the acrylic that needed to be peeled off. Once I removed this layer, the colors popped like never before. It was like a whole new world of possibilities had opened up before my eyes.

Cost Effectiveness

Now, let's talk about cost. I know, I know - it's not the most exciting topic, but it's an important one nonetheless. After all, we all want to get the most bang for our buck, right? As I mentioned earlier, the non-Unisub acrylic cost me $9.95 for an 11.8 by 11.8-inch sheet, while the Unisub acrylic was slightly more expensive. But when you factor in the quality and final appearance of the projects, the Unisub acrylic is definitely worth the extra cost. Plus, when you consider the fact that you don't have to worry about bubbles or unusable material with the Unisub acrylic, it's really a no-brainer. You'll save time and money in the long run by investing in a higher-quality material from the start. So there you have it, folks - my final thoughts on sublimating on clear acrylic. It's been a wild ride, but I hope I've been able to share some valuable insights and tips with you along the way. Remember, choosing the right acrylic is key, but it's only half the battle. You also need to have the right techniques and tools in your arsenal to achieve the best results. But with a little patience, practice, and perseverance, you'll be creating stunning sublimation projects in no time.

Key Takeaway: 

Choosing the right acrylic is key to nailing sublimation projects. Non-Unisub may be cheaper, but Unisub wins with no bubbles and a flawless finish. Experiment with heat settings for perfect results, protect your work during pressing, and cool it properly to avoid warping. The extra cost of Unisub pays off in quality and ease of use.


Wow, we've covered a lot of ground in the world of sublimating on clear acrylic! From choosing the right blanks to nailing your heat press settings, you're now armed with all the knowledge you need to create stunning, professional-looking pieces.

Don't be afraid to embrace the "oops" moments in your crafting journey – they're all part of the learning process. The key is to let your creativity run wild, take chances, and most importantly, enjoy the ride.

Ready to unleash your inner artist? Clear acrylic is the perfect canvas for your sublimation masterpieces. Embrace the learning process, and soon enough, you'll be crafting designs that'll leave everyone in awe. Trust me, the satisfaction of creating something beautiful is unmatched. So, let's see what you've got!

Wishing you joyful sublimating adventures ahead, pal!