Can You Sublimate on PVC? (Explained)

Sublimation works well in producing various vibrant and durable graphics designs. However, you are sometimes likely to come across some challenges. An example would be, can you sublimate on PVC?

Yes, it’s possible to sublimate in PVC, but it’s not a common process. That is because PVC is plastic, which doesn’t go well with sublimation. However, using products like primer before printing can help with ink absorption.

There is more to this process than you would expect, and this guide should help:

How to Sublimate on PVC

We identified the steps and products you will need to sublimate on PVC. They include:

Items Required 

ProductDescriptionGet Them From Amazon
Sublimation printer
Sublimation ink
Heat press
Image transfer paper
PVC Sheet
PVC Sublimation Film
Sublimation tape
PVC Masking tape
Heat tape
Masking film
Vinly cutter

Steps To Sublimating On PVC

Choose the correct material for your project. Ensure you pick material that works specifically for sublimation. It involves using a dye heated that provides the best-sticking results on the PVC.

Also Read: Can You Sublimate On Nylon

Prepare the PVC for sublimation. It involves cleaning the PVC using mild detergent and some water. Once the surface is clean, coat the PVC evenly using a sublimation transfer resource.

Doing this ensures the dye sticks well to the PVC.

Once you set the transfer is set, expose the PVC to a heat press. Ensure you maintain the correct temperature, and pressure so the design sets as required.

Expect to use temperature levels of between 320 to 30 degrees for sublimation on PVC. The best pressure for setting PVC is 30 psi.  The specific settings depend on your preferences and the expected results.

Once you set the PVC on a heating plate, bring the press to the surface. Start by pressing the PVC for a few seconds, and then remove the heating plate.

Evaluate the results of the design. You might have to repeat the process once more for a few seconds or until the design imparts on the PVC.

Once this process is complete, remove the paper, and let the PVC cool for a few seconds. Remove it from the surface once it becomes cool, and evaluate the quality of the image. 

How to Make a PVC ID Card Using Sublimation

Here is a step-by-step guide to producing ID cards using sublimation. First, realize that the traditional ID card features Polyvinyl Chloride as the main material. 

Also Read: Sublimation Black Looks Brown

These ID cards are used for company IDs, debit cards, and other purposes. There are various ways of producing ID cards, but this one focuses on using the sublimation approach. Here are the steps:

  1. Collect the required supplies. These include sublimation paper, printer, heat press, and PVC card.
  2. Develop the card design. Get a graphics program or online template which you can use to produce the card designs. Ensure the size is appropriate for your preferred card.
  3. Print the design on the sublimation paper. Ensure you use a printer that supports this function and for your preferred card material.
  4. Set the printed design on your card. Remember to set the design facing the right side and that it aligns with the card’s surface. 
  5. Set the card and design on a heat press. Adhere to the instructions for using the heat press, and ensure that the design receives sufficient heating.
  6. Remove the card. Let it sit for a few minutes to cool, and then inspect the design. 

What are the Challenges of Sublimating on PVC?

Here are the challenges you might expect when sublimating on PVC:

  • PVC can produce large amounts of poisonous fumes when exposed to heat. Therefore, sufficient ventilation and safety measures are important during the sublimation process.
  • PVC is not receptive to dyes when compared to other material types. Plus, it may not work with the sublimation process as required, thus leading to issues in the image quality.
  • Sublimation inks are also sometimes difficult to use on PVC. 

Also Read: Why is Black Sublimation Turning Green


What Materials Can You Not Sublimate On?

Various material types are impossible to sublimate on. These include materials like stone, ceramics, glass, and metals. It also includes fabrics that can’t withstand the 400 degrees Fahrenheit temperature mark.

What Plastic Can You Sublimate On?

There are various plastics that you can sublimate for high-quality results. These include polyester, acrylic, polystyrene, and polycarbonate. It’s also a process that requires the right temperature settings. 

Can a Normal Printer Print on PVC?

Yes, it’s possible to print on PVC using regular printers. However, you must get a printer that specifically works for printing PVC. The PVC should also be compatible with the printer you want to use. 

Can You Heat Press Onto PVC?

Yes, it’s possible to heat press onto PVC material. However, you must first ensure you maintain the correct temperatures and settings. The PVC also requires small amounts of heat to avoid causing damage to the material.

Does PVC Melt With Heat?

Yes, PVC can melt with heat because it is a temperature sensitive item. The melting point of PVC averages between 100 to 260 degrees Celsius. Factors like product quality and composition all contribute to this melting point.

What Surfaces Can Be Sublimated On?

There are various surfaces that you can sublimate on. These include polyester aprons, glass sheets, MDF coasters, ceramic tiles, and polyester cushion covers. The possibility of sublimation depends on the material structure.

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