Sublimation for Phone Cases

What do you need to Sublimate a Phone case?

One of the best ways to personalize a phone case is with sublimation. We will explore what is needed for phone case sublimation, and how it compares to sublimation of other materials.

People carry mobile phone with them everywhere. Having a unique and personalized case is a great way to make a phone one’s own. A sublimated phone case makes a great gift for friends and family. Sublimating phone cases can be part of or the sole focus of a small business. You can create your own designs or solicit meaningful photos from your clients.

Sublimation for Phone Cases

Phone case sublimation is similar to other types of sublimation printing thanks to modern blank designs. If you already are familiar with sublimation, then adding phone cases to your repertoire will be fairly simple.

If you are new to sublimation, then we will help to get you started on the right track and teach you how to sublimate phone cases.

What do you need to Sublimate a Phone case?

You will need the following items. We will review them in depth below.

  • Design Software
  • Sublimation Printer
  • Sublimation ink
  • Sublimation Paper
  • Heat Press
  • Phone Case Blanks

Phone Case Heat Press Machine

To sublimate a phone case, you will need a heat press; phone case blanks have a sheet of flat aluminum in them that is the substrate to be used with a heat press. There are a numerous heat presses that work well for aluminum. Consider the following:

TUSY Heat press

TUSY Makes heat presses in different sizes. The Pro 5 in one is our favorite, but you may prefer a larger or smaller one. We reviewed several TUSY Heat presses, including a portable one.

Cricut Heat Presses

Cricut makes heat presses such as the Cricut Easy Press 2 that will work for phone cases. In a pinch, you could also use the Cricut Mini. Always remember to use a mat when you use Cricut heat presses.

phone case heat press machine.  Heat press phone case

Left to right: Heat Press; Phone Case. Learn how to Make Phone Cases with a Heat Press

FancierStudio Heat Press

FancierStudio makes solid no frills powerful heat presses that work well when sublimating on a phone case. Read our detailed review.

FC2 Heat press

Another heat press that works well for phone case sublimation is made by FC2. You can read our review of the FC2 Pro 5 in 1 combo heat press here.

Other Phone Case Heat Press Machines

There are many other heat presses that can be used for phone case sublimation. Read more reviews here.

3D Vacuum Heat Press Machines

Modern phone case sublimation blanks no longer need expensive 3D vacuum heat press machines.

Around the year 2015, however, in order to sublimate a phone case, you would have needed a special flexible sublimation film that would have wrapped tightly around the phone case when you put it under vacuum in your 3D heat press.

Since you may have seen these 3D heat presses, let’s briefly review the 3D heat press process.

 heat press phone case.
Older 3D Vacuum Heat Press Phone Case Machine

You start with a one piece phone case, and then you wrap your design all around it, and tape it into place. Next you put in into a heat press that pulls a vacuum. The vacuum causes the sublimation paper to cling tightly against all the edges of a one piece phone case.

Once you remove the phone cases from the heat press, you need to cool them on a solid fitted surface so that they retain their shape.

These types of heat presses work for groups of mugs, plates, and other objects that don’t have a flat surface.

They make a nice product, but the machines are costly, and it requires a lot of work to wrap each phone case tightly with sublimation film and then cool it properly after it is sublimated.

You can find 3D Vacuum Heat Presses here.

Luckily for makers, crafters, and small business owners, this special sublimation paper and this complex and time consuming process is no longer necessary.

Sublimation Paper for Phone Cases

Modern phone cases are made of 2 pieces, including a flat aluminum substrate. As a result sublimation for phone cases is just like sublimating onto an aluminum blank, and good quality sublimation paper will work. Please read our review for the top sublimation papers. You might also like to use Cricut Infusible Ink or some of the papers listed below:

Sublimation Phone Case Design Software

There are many good software packages that you can use for design, and we have reviewed them here. You can create your own unique designs or purchase templates from places like Etsy. If you have a sublimation business then you can also solicit photos from your clients to make unique and highly personalized phone cases.

Sublimation Printer For Phone Cases

Once you have a great design for your phone case, you will need to print it on sublimation paper using sublimation ink and a sublimation printer.

The difference between sublimation printers and regular printers is significant.

First, sublimation printers use special sublimation ink that will sublimate into your substrate when you use a heat press.

A second difference between sublimation printer and inkjet printers is the resolution at which they print. A typical setting for an inkjet printer is 300 dpi, whereas the resolution for a sublimation printer such as the Sawgrass SG1000 starts at 600 dpi, and range up to 4800 dpi.

Third, inkjet printers are made almost exclusively for 8.5 x 11” paper, whereas sublimation printers can accept larger sizes of paper. A sublimation printer for phone cases such as the Sawgrass SG1000 can print up to 11”x17” in standard mode, and 13” x 19” with a bypass tray.

Conversion kits are available, often made by the manufacturers of sublimation inks, which enable you to convert a standard inkjet printer into a sublimation printer.

We have written extensively about sublimation printers. Follow the links below to read our informative reviews and choose the right printer for phone cases:

Sawgrass Printers

Both the Sawgrass SG500 and SG1000 are printers designed specifically for sublimation printing. The SG400 is discontinued, but you can still get ink cartridges for it. Since these printers are manufactured specifically for sublimation, we think that selecting a Sawgrass printer for phone cases is the best option.

Epson Photo Printers

Printers such as the Epson Artisan 1430 were not manufactured for sublimation, but with the help of conversion kits, you can turn the photo printers into a good quality sublimation printer.

Epson EcoTank Printers

Epson EcoTank printer don’t have printer cartridges. Instead they have tanks than you can fill. If you fill them with sublimation ink…voila! You have a sublimation printer!

Epson Workforce Printers

Epson Workforce Printers such as the Epson WF-7720 and Epson Workforce WF-7710 can be converted to sublimation printers using conversion kits.

Phone Cases for Sublimation Printing

Below are links to a variety of phone case sublimation blanks. They all can be used in essentially the same way, which we will describe in the section How to Make Phone Cases with a Heat Press.

-6% Sale
15 Pieces Sublimation Blanks Phone Case Bulk Cover...
  • Package includes: you will receive 15 pieces sublimation phone cases, including 3 models (compatible with Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max,...
  • DIY your own case: this printable sublimation phone case with a printable aluminium insert is creative, and it can make sure your...
  • Quality material: the phone protector cover is made of soft quality TPU and PC materials with shockproof protection against drops,...
-37% Sale
10PCS Sublimation Blanks Phone Case Covers Compatible with...
  • COMPATIBLE:Sublimation blanks phone case covers /Compatible with Apple iPhone XR 6.1-inch. Each Case Comes with high quality...
  • INCLUDES: 10 x Blank Sublimation Black Case + Inserts Compatible with iPhone XR.
  • CUSTOMIZE IMAGE:The blank insert aluminum plate is designable which can make sure your phone case can be difference to others....
5PCS Sublimation Phone Case for iPhone Xs Max 6.5 Inch...
  • 【COMPATIBLE】This sublimation blank iPhone cases compatible with iPhone Xs Max 6.5 inch. Every phone cover equipped with...
  • 【PERSONALIZED PHONE CASE】Your designs can be printed directly onto the blank aluminum inserts: add your picture, your name,...
  • 【MATERIAL】 Made of high-quality soft TPU materials, durable for use and provide good shock absorption protection against...
O BOSSTOP 5PCS Sublimation Blanks Phone Cases Covers for...
  • Heat Transfer Sublimation Blank Phone Cases Make your own phone case unique and special.
  • Sublimation blanks phone case covers /Compatible with Apple iPhone 7 Plus iPhone 8 Plus.
  • Not Glitter Plate.Made of high grade TPU+PC materials.
JUSTRY 10 PCS Sublimation Blank Phone Case Blanks Cover for...
  • 💪【COMPATIBLE】: Sublimation blanks phone case covers / compatible with Samsung Galaxy S8. Each Case Comes with a...
  • 💪【PERFECT PROTECTION】: Rubber materials provide solid texture. Protects your Samsung from daily dings and scratches.
  • 💪【CUSTOMIZE IMAGE】: The sublimation blanks insert plate can be designed which can make sure your Samsung Galaxy S8 case can...

How to Make Phone Cases with a Heat Press

The phone case blanks that you can buy come in two parts. First is the flexible case that protects the phone. The second, and most important part for our purposes, is the aluminum sheet which is sublimation ready. Lets discuss sublimation for Phone cases Step by Step

How to Sublimate Phone Case steps A-D
Figure 1.How to Make Phone Cases with a Heat Press. (A) Print design in mirror image (B) Remove protective film from phone case sublimation blank. (C) Use heat press. (D) Phone case sublimation blank with design

Using design software, create the design that you want to put on the phone case. The design needs to be a little larger than the phone case and take into account the openings for the camera lenses.

How to Sublimate Phone Case Step by Step

  1. Print a mirror image of the design on sublimation paper using a sublimation printer and sublimation ink. See A on Figure 1
  2. Cut out the paper to a size larger than the phone case. See A on Figure 1
  3. On the aluminum plate portion of the sublimation blank phone case, remove the protective film. (VERY IMPORTANT) See B on Figure 1.
  4. Now you need to warm up the heat press. This is where the sublimation takes place. Set the heat press to the temperature recommended by the manufacturer of the phone case blank, typically 350°F to 400°F. See C on Figure 1.
  5. Set the printed design over the uncovered white sublimation blank. Secure it with heat tape.
  6. Set the taped design and blank sandwich into your heat press. Use protective layers on top and bottom. The layers can be silicone sheets, parchment paper, butcher paper, or teflon sheet.
  7. Close the heat press and set a timer based on the time recommended by the manufacturer of the of the sublimation phone case, typically 80-120 seconds.
  8. This is when the magic happens. The ink will sublimate from the paper and onto the phone case.
  9. Remove the sandwich from the heat press and allow it to cool enough so that you can handle it. See D on Figure 1.
Figure 2. How to sublimate phone case. Part 2 assemble the case. (E) Sublimated Phone case blank (F) On flexible portion of case, remove film and expose adhesive (G) Use fingers to press sublimated back onto phone case.
  1. Remove the paper and admire the gorgeous design that is now on the aluminum substrate. See E on Figure 2
  2. Take the flexible protective case and remove the protective film on the back, which exposes and adhesive. See F on Figure 2
  3. With the shiny aluminum side down, use your fingers to press the aluminum case onto the adhesive back of the flexible phone case. (Do NOT use a heat press)
  4. Your sublimated phone case is now complete! See G on Figure 2.

Sublimation Phone Case Storage Solutions

Phone cases are available in different sizes for different sized phones and different manufacturers. If you are working with numerous blanks, you will need to keep the sizes separated and clearly identified.

Here is a simple storage solution that we like:

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Top Pack Supply Open Top Bin Boxes, 4" x 18" x 4 1/2", White...
  • Easy to assemble. Ideal for organizing work areas.
  • Durable one-piece construction.
  • Assemble without tape or staples.

Summary

We have reviewed the process for how to sublimate a phone case. We have answered the question “What do you need to sublimate a phone case?” Together, we have covered the materials and the equipment that are needed. Mobile phones are ubiquitous. And sublimation for phone cases gives everyone an opportunity to have a phone case that is unique to them. This applies, regardless of whether you are sublimating phone cases for yourself, your family, your friends, or the clients of your business.

Last update on 2022-06-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API