The Ultimate Guide to Sublimation Coating for Stainless Steel


To make sublimation coating for stainless steel, mix polyurethane and isopropyl alcohol in a 1:1 ratio. Then add sublimation ink and stir it well until it is properly mixed.

Sublimation coating is a vital step when it comes to sublimation printing on stainless steel. The coating ensures that the sublimation ink will penetrate the surface and last long without fading or scratching. To create a durable and long-lasting coating on stainless steel, you will need a few materials and ingredients.

In this article, we will take a closer look at the process of making sublimation coating for stainless steel. By the end of this guide, you will have a clear understanding of the steps required to create a perfect coating for your sublimation printing needs.

The Ultimate Guide to Sublimation Coating for Stainless Steel


What Is Sublimation Coating?

Sublimation coating is a process that involves the application of a special coating on the surface of stainless steel to create a high-quality, durable print. This process involves the transition of a substance from a solid state to a gas state without passing through the liquid phase.

This process is known as sublimation, hence the name sublimation coating. This section of the blog post will discuss the key points related to sublimation coating, its benefits, and how it compares to other coating methods.

Definition Of Sublimation Coating

Sublimation coating is a coating process that involves transferring dye into a polymer coating on the surface of stainless steel. This coating process is designed to produce high-quality, vibrant, and long-lasting prints on stainless steel that can withstand wear and tear.

  • The sublimation coating process uses a combination of heat and pressure to transfer the dye into the coating on the stainless steel surface.
  • The process results in a high-quality print that is resistant to fading and scratching, providing long-lasting results.
  • Sublimation coatings are typically applied to stainless steel using a sublimation process with specialized equipment.

Benefits Of Using Sublimation Coating On Stainless Steel

Sublimation coating offers a range of benefits that make it an ideal choice for coating stainless steel surfaces. Some of the key benefits of sublimation coating include:

  • High-quality prints: Sublimation coating produces high-quality prints with vibrant colors that are resistant to fading and scratching.
  • Durability: Sublimation coating creates a durable, long-lasting print that can withstand wear and tear.
  • Versatility: Sublimation coating can be used to print on a range of different shapes and sizes of stainless steel surfaces, making it a versatile option.
  • Cost-effective: Sublimation coating is a cost-effective way to produce high-quality, long-lasting prints on stainless steel surfaces.

How Sublimation Coating Compares To Other Coating Methods

Sublimation coating offers a range of benefits over other coating methods. Some of the key advantages of sublimation coating include:

  • Durability: Sublimation coating produces long-lasting prints that are resistant to fading and scratching.
  • Vibrant colors: Sublimation coating produces vibrant, high-quality prints that are suitable for a wide range of purposes.
  • Versatility: Sublimation coating can be used on a range of different shapes and sizes of stainless steel surfaces.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Sublimation coating is a cost-effective way to produce high-quality prints on stainless steel surfaces.

In contrast, other coating methods may be less durable or produce lower quality prints that may not be suitable for certain applications. Sublimation coating is an ideal choice for producing high-quality, durable prints on stainless steel surfaces.

Choosing The Right Sublimation Coating For Stainless Steel

Factors To Consider When Selecting A Sublimation Coating For Stainless Steel

Before choosing a sublimation coating for stainless steel, it’s essential to consider these factors:

  • Chemical compatibility: Make sure the coating is compatible with the chemicals, inks, and dyes you will be using for the sublimation process.
  • Surface preparation: Determine whether the stainless steel needs any surface preparation before applying the coating. The type of preparation needed may vary depending on the quality of the stainless steel and the coating being used.
  • Application method: Consider the type of application method, whether it is a spray, roll, or brush-on. Choose a coating that is easy to apply and works best with the application method.
  • Durability: Choose a coating that is durable and can withstand exposure to the elements, uv light, and abrasion. This ensures that the sublimation image adheres properly for the long term.

Types Of Sublimation Coatings And Their Pros And Cons

There are various types of sublimation coatings available in the market. Here are some of the most popular types and their pros and cons:

  • Polyester-based coatings: Polyester-based coatings are widely used for sublimation on stainless steel. They are easy to apply, provide excellent adhesion, and produce vibrant colors. However, they may be susceptible to fading and discoloration over time.
  • Epoxy-based coatings: Epoxy-based coatings are known for their durability and resistance to scratches and chemicals. They provide a glossy finish and conform to fda regulations for food contact. However, they tend to be more expensive and harder to apply than polyester-based coatings.
  • Polyurethane-based coatings: Polyurethane-based coatings are also durable and chemical resistant. They provide a matte or glossy finish and are perfect for outdoor use. However, they may require additional surface preparation and tend to be more expensive than polyester-based coatings.

Popular Sublimation Coating Brands And Their Unique Features

Here are some of the most popular sublimation coating brands in the market and their unique features:

  • Spraylat corporation: Spraylat offers a range of sublimation coatings for stainless steel, including polyester-based and epoxy-based coatings. Their coatings provide excellent adhesion and color vibrancy while being resistant to chemicals, abrasion, and uv light.
  • Decoral systems usa: Decoral systems offers a range of polyurethane-based coatings that provide excellent versatility and durability. Their coatings offer both matte and glossy finishes, adhere well to stainless steel, and are ideal for outdoor use.
  • Cerakote ceramic coatings: Cerakote offers a unique line of ceramic-based coatings that provide exceptional durability and resistance to heat, corrosion, and abrasion. Their coatings are available in a wide range of colors, finishes, and textures, making them perfect for a variety of sublimation projects.

Choosing the right sublimation coating for stainless steel is essential to achieve high-quality, long-lasting sublimation images. Consider the factors mentioned above, the types of sublimation coatings available, and their unique features to make an informed decision.

Preparing Stainless Steel For Sublimation Coating

Surface Preparation Techniques For Stainless Steel

Preparing stainless steel for sublimation coating is a crucial step. Proper surface preparation ensures a smooth and durable finish. Here are some surface preparation techniques for stainless steel:

  • Chemical etching: It is a process of applying acid on the steel surface to remove oxides, scale, and other contaminants. This process is ideal for large surfaces or complex shapes.
  • Mechanical polishing: In this process, the steel surface is polished mechanically with abrasives to remove blemishes, scratches, and weld marks. The result is a smooth surface that is perfect for sublimation printing.
  • Sandblasting: The process involves shooting fine sand or other abrasive materials onto the steel surface at high pressure. It provides a rough surface ideal for sublimation printing.

The Role Of Cleaning, Degreasing, And Sanding In Surface Preparation

Cleaning, degreasing, and sanding are crucial steps in surface preparation. Here is how they help:

  • Cleaning: Before the surface preparation, all dirt, dust, and other contaminants need to be removed. Cleaning also removes any surface oils, grease, or fingerprints left during handling that can interfere with adhesion.
  • Degreasing: Even the slightest oil or grease residue can hinder the sublimation ink from bonding with the metal surface. Therefore, it is essential to degrease the stainless steel surface effectively.
  • Sanding: Sanding ensures that the surface is smooth and free of scratches. It also helps in the adhesion of the sublimation ink onto the steel surface.

Common Mistakes To Avoid During Surface Preparation

Even a minor mistake during surface preparation can result in a failed sublimation coating. Here are some common mistakes to avoid:

  • Skipping cleaning and degreasing steps: Failure to remove grease and oil residues or other contaminants can cause the sublimation ink to peel and flake.
  • Over-sanding: Over-sanding can cause the surface to become too porous, leading to poor sublimation printing results.
  • Using the wrong abrasive materials: Using abrasive materials that are too coarse or too fine can cause problems in sublimation coating.

Proper surface preparation is critical to ensure a high-quality sublimation coating on stainless steel. Using the right techniques and avoiding common mistakes will lead to a successful outcome.

Applying Sublimation Coating To Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is a versatile material that has many applications in construction, furniture, and automotive industries. It’s no wonder why many people choose to decorate it with sublimation coatings. However, applying sublimation coating to stainless steel can be quite daunting, especially for beginners.

In this section, we will provide you with a step-by-step guide to applying sublimation coating on stainless steel, recommended tools and equipment, and tips for achieving a flawless finish.

Step-By-Step Guide To Applying Sublimation Coating On Stainless Steel

  • Prepare the surface of the stainless steel: Clean the surface of the stainless steel using a degreaser and rinse it with water.
  • Apply the sublimation coating: Apply the sublimation coating using an airbrush or a spray gun. Make sure to apply it evenly and in thin layers to avoid drips and clumps.
  • Wait for the coating to cure: Allow the coating to dry for at least 24 hours.
  • Bake the coated stainless steel: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. Place the coated stainless steel in the oven and bake it for 15 minutes.
  • Remove the stainless steel from the oven and let it cool: Leave the coated stainless steel to cool down at room temperature.

Recommended Tools And Equipment For Coating

  • Airbrush or spray gun: Used for applying sublimation coating on stainless steel.
  • Degreaser: Cleans the surface of the stainless steel before coating.
  • Oven: Bakes the coated stainless steel.

Tips For Achieving A Flawless Finish

  • Quality coating: Use a high-quality sublimation coating to achieve a flawless finish.
  • Even application: Apply the sublimation coating evenly on the surface of the stainless steel, in thin layers, to achieve a smooth and flawless finish.
  • Don’t rush it: Make sure to let the coating dry properly before baking it in the oven to achieve a better bonding result.
  • Avoid touching the surface: Avoid touching the surface of the coated stainless steel with your bare hands after baking it, as this can lead to smudges and fingerprints.

Sublimation coating adds vibrancy and visual appeal to stainless steel, making it an excellent choice for decoration. Applying the coating correctly can be intimidating, but with the proper tools, equipment, and techniques, anyone can achieve a flawless finish.

Caring For Sublimation Coated Stainless Steel

How to make sublimation coating for stainless steel: caring for sublimation coated stainless steel

Stainless steel is a popular material used in several industries, from kitchen appliances to construction. Its durability and versatility make it an excellent choice for various applications. However, it may lack the aesthetic appeal that some people look for. Fortunately, sublimation coating is an excellent solution to this problem.

It is a process that allows you to transfer a design onto the steel surface, making it look more attractive.

If you’ve already invested in sublimation coated stainless steel, it’s crucial to take care of it properly to ensure its longevity. In this section, we’ll share some best practices, cleaning tips, and troubleshooting techniques, all aimed at keeping your sublimation coated stainless steel in great condition.

Best Practices For Maintaining Sublimation Coated Stainless Steel

Here are some tips for maintaining the quality of your sublimation coated stainless steel:

  • Avoid leaving the steel surface exposed to direct sunlight or high temperatures as they may damage the coating.
  • Use mild soap and water to clean the surface. Avoid using abrasive cleaners or tools that may scratch or peel off the coating.
  • Store your sublimation coated stainless steel in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight.

How To Clean And Protect The Coating From Damage

Cleaning and protecting the coating is critical to maintain its finish. Here are some steps you can take to clean and protect it:

  • Wipe the surface gently with a soft cloth dipped in warm soapy water.
  • Rinse the surface with clean water and dry it with a soft towel to avoid water stains.
  • Apply a protective coating to safeguard against scratches, uv rays, and other environmental factors that may cause damage to the surface.

Potential Issues And How To Troubleshoot Them

Despite your best efforts, some issues may arise with your sublimation coated stainless steel. Here are some steps you can take to troubleshoot:

  • If the finish appears dull or faded, apply a coat of wax or polish to restore its shine.
  • If the coating peels or chips off, you may need to recoat the surface. Contact your coating service provider for assistance.
  • If you notice rust or corrosion on the surface, clean the area with a mild soap and water solution, dry thoroughly, and apply a rust inhibitor to prevent further damage.

Sublimation coating is an excellent way to enhance the aesthetic appeal of stainless steel. By following our best practices, cleaning tips, and troubleshooting techniques, you can ensure that your sublimation coated stainless steel remains in excellent condition for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions Of How To Make Sublimation Coating For Stainless Steel

What Is Sublimation Coating?

Sublimation coating is a thin film that is applied to surfaces in order to make them receptive to dye sublimation ink.

What Kind Of Stainless Steel Is Best For Sublimation Coating?

Stainless steel that has a smooth surface is the best for sublimation coating. Ensure that the steel is free from oil and dust.

How Do You Prepare Stainless Steel For Sublimation Coating?

You should clean it with isopropyl alcohol or acetone. Then, apply a sublimation coating in a clean and controlled environment.

Can Sublimation Coating Be Applied To Other Metals Besides Stainless Steel?

Yes, sublimation coating can be applied to aluminum, brass, copper, and other metals. Ensure that they also have a smooth surface.

How Long Does Sublimation Coating Last?

Sublimation coating has a long lifespan if used correctly. If the surface is cleaned and maintained properly, it can last for years.


With the current trend of customization, sublimation coating for stainless steel is becoming increasingly popular. From personalized mugs to corporate gifts, there is a wide range of applications for this technique. Thanks to the easy-to-follow steps outlined in this blog post, anyone can try their hand at making sublimation coatings.

Additionally, it’s a cost-effective method that can save you money in the long run. By using a high-quality sublimation coating, you can produce durable, long-lasting images that will remain vivid and vibrant for years to come. So, whether you’re a business owner looking to expand your product line or an individual looking to add a personal touch to their stainless steel items, sublimation coating is the way to go.

Start experimenting today and see just how versatile this technique can be!

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