How to Sublimate a Puzzle From Start to Finish

Looking for a way to grow your custom products shop but aren’t sure how to do it?

Our experience shows that the simplest way to do this is by expanding your product range. Once you add new and complementary products to your current offerings, you’re then fishing with multiple baits at once.

Let’s be honest, you never know when someone will need a certain item!

One day they need this product, the next day they need something completely different.

And as a business owner, you want to meet those needs — in other words, you want customers to have more choices, not less!

This is where sublimation puzzles come in.

These days sublimation puzzles have become one of the more popular add-on items for gift shops and souvenir kiosks.

Other than being hot-sellers, these puzzle blanks are amazing because they come at a great price and they’re exceptionally easy to make.

In this article, we’ll give you step by step instructions on how to sublimate a puzzle using the Sawgrass SG1000.

If that is of interest to you, keep reading (or play the video) to find out how to do it and what equipment you’ll need for the job!

Step 1: Prepare Your Design for Print

The first step is to choose a photo, design, or graphic at a high enough resolution and quality so that it prints well on the puzzle blank.

To ensure that you have the right sized design, all you need to know are the puzzle blank dimensions.

You can find this information on any of the puzzle product pages. 

Quick tip: Make sure to add at least one to two inches of “bleed” area around the corners.

Assuming you’ve done this, what’s the next step?

Step 2: Print Your Design on the Sawgrass SG1000

Now that your design is ready, you’ll want to print it on sublimation paper. 

For this project, we used Beaver TexPrint sublimation paper.

It’s okay if you’ve never heard of it — think of it as a specialty coated paper that absorbs and holds ink. The second it comes in contact with sublimation blanks, it releases the ink onto the blank.

After loading the sublimation paper into your printer and choosing the file you want to print, you’ll use the print manager software to print out the design or designs!  It really is so simple!

When you’ve done that, you’re ready to move to the next step.

Step 3: Secure the Printed Transfer Onto the Blank

After printing, take your transfer paper and secure it to the puzzle blank with some heat tape.

What you’re looking for is a tight marriage between the transfer paper and the blank.

We do this to avoid the risk of creating a ghosting effect.

The appearance of ghosting can be described as a fuzziness or a blurry section in the design. It is out-of-focus and makes the color look weird.

This usually happens during the heat pressing step if the transfer isn’t secure on the blank or even after when you’re peeling the transfer off the blank. 

That’s why this step is so important.

Heat tape is a great accessory for holding transfers on t-shirts, tiles, mugs, and puzzles while heat pressing.

It’s simple to use, especially when paired together with a dispenser.

While you’re at it, keep in mind that you need to leave a bleed around all four sides of the puzzle when you do it.

With that done, let’s move to the fourth step.

Step 4: Use a Heat Press to Sublimate the Puzzle

Congratulations! You’ve almost made your very own puzzle.

What’s left to do now is to heat press your design onto the puzzle blank.

For this step, we used the Hotronix Fusion IQ Heat Press but you can use a standard heat press like the Galaxy 15×15 Heat Press as well. 

We have it set at 375 degrees for 60 seconds, but the parameter settings may vary depending on the type of heat press that you’re using.

Remember, practice makes perfect!

To protect your heat press from any residue, add a finishing sheet on the bottom platen.

Then, place the puzzle on top of it and cover it with another finishing sheet just to protect the puzzle from the direct heat from the upper platen.

Now you’re ready to send it under the heat press!

Step 5: Remove the Sublimation Paper from the Puzzle

For the final step, remove your puzzle from the heat press.

Be careful when you’re doing this as the surface of the puzzle can be very hot to the touch. So, if it’s easier let it cool down to room temperature.

However, it’s not necessary. You can carefully remove the sublimation paper from the puzzle when it’s hot. 

We recommend using heat resistant gloves to avoid any burning. 

Once this is done, you’ve now created your first sublimated puzzle!

This is just another unique way you can make money with your sublimation printer. 

If you’d like to learn more about sublimation printing, you can live chat with one of our pros!



Related Posts


Choosing DTF vs White Toner: Pitting Versatility Against Speed 

In the competitive world of apparel customization, the choice between Direct to Film (DTF) and White Toner printing technologies is crucial. This comprehensive comparison delves deep into the strengths and weaknesses of both. We analyze their efficiency in production, quality of the final print, cost-effectiveness, and suitability for various fabric types. The article aims to guide businesses in making an informed decision, highlighting how each technology can influence your customization capabilities and overall business strategy. Whether you are a startup or an established entity, understanding the nuances of DTF and White Toner printing is pivotal for optimizing your operational efficiency and product quality.

Read More »