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How to Make Sublimation Water Bottles (Step By Step)

Are you tired of carrying around plain and boring water bottles that lack any hint of personality? Imagine being able to infuse your water bottle with style and flair that reflects your unique taste. With sublimation printing, this dream becomes a reality.

Sublimation printing not only allows you to unleash your creativity but also offers a lucrative opportunity to expand your sublimation business. Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or an entrepreneur looking to diversify your product line, mastering the art of sublimating water bottles is a game-changer.

In this comprehensive guide, we will take you on a journey through the fascinating world of sublimation water bottles. You’ll learn everything you need to know to get started, from the essential materials to the step-by-step process. Get ready to elevate your water bottle game to new heights.

white bottle
Photo by Luis Quintero on

What is Water Bottle Sublimation?

Water bottle sublimation refers to the process of using sublimation printing techniques to transfer designs, graphics, or artwork onto water bottles. At the same time, sublimation printing involves using heat and pressure to transfer sublimation ink onto a special coating on the surface of the water bottle, resulting in a permanent, vibrant, and high-resolution print.

The sublimation process starts with designing the artwork using graphic design software. The design is then printed onto sublimation paper using specialized sublimation ink and a sublimation printer. The printed design is then transferred to the water bottle using a heat press machine.

During the heat press process, the sublimation ink on the paper transitions from a solid state to a gas state without becoming a liquid. This transition is known as sublimation. The high temperature and pressure cause the sublimation ink to penetrate the coating on the water bottle, permanently bonding the design to the surface.

The sublimation process offers several advantages for water bottle customization. It allows for full-color printing, intricate details, and the ability to reproduce complex designs accurately. The sublimated prints are durable, scratch-resistant, and do not fade easily, ensuring a long-lasting and professional-looking result.

Water bottle sublimation provides a creative way to personalize water bottles for personal use, promotional purposes, or as unique gifts. It’s commonly used by businesses, sports teams, event organizers, and individuals who want to showcase their brand, logo, artwork, or messages on water bottles.

white sports bottle
Photo by Maël BALLAND on

What Kind of Water Bottles can be Sublimated?

You can sublimate various water bottles depending on their material and surface coating. Here are some commonly used types of water bottles for sublimation.

  • Stainless Steel Water Bottles: are a popular choice for sublimation because they have a smooth, durable surface that allows sublimation ink to adhere well and produce vibrant prints. They also offer excellent insulation properties, keeping liquids hot or cold for extended periods.
  • Aluminum Water Bottles: are suitable for sublimation printing because they typically have a polymer coating or a special sublimation-ready coating that provides a smooth surface for the ink transfer. Moreover, they are lightweight, making them ideal for on-the-go use.
  • Polymer Water Bottles: also known as plastic water bottles, can be sublimated, although they require a specific type of polymer coating compatible with sublimation ink. These bottles are lightweight and come in various shapes and sizes, offering flexibility for customization.

When selecting water bottles for sublimation, it’s crucial to consider the surface coating and finish. Look for bottles designed explicitly for sublimation or those with a sublimation-ready coating. This ensures optimal ink adhesion and longevity of the print.

Additionally, consider the size and shape of the water bottle to accommodate the desired design. Some bottles may have curved or irregular surfaces, which can affect the placement and appearance of the printed design. Flat surfaces or bottles with removable lids and caps provide easier access for the heat press machine during the transfer process.

Moreover, always check the manufacturer’s recommendations for sublimation compatibility before attempting to sublimate a specific water bottle. This ensures you choose the right type of bottle for successful and high-quality sublimation printing results.

insulated water bottles
Photo by cottonbro studio on

Water Bottle Sublimation Supplies

To sublimate on a water bottle, you will need the following supplies.

  1. Sublimation Printer

You will need a printer specifically designed for sublimation printing. It should be capable of printing with sublimation inks and have the necessary color management features for accurate color reproduction.

  1. Sublimation Ink

You will also use specialized sublimation inks for the printing process. These inks are formulated to convert from a solid to a gas state under heat and bond with the coating on the water bottle.

  1. Sublimation Paper

The special sublimation paper is coated with a special layer that transfers the sublimation ink onto the water bottle’s surface. It is essential to use high-quality sublimation paper for optimal results.

  1. Heat Press Machine

Once your design is printed, you will use a heat press machine to apply heat and pressure to transfer it onto the bottle. The heat press machine ensures the sublimation ink is adequately bonded to the water bottle’s coating. Moreover, ensure it has adjustable temperature and pressure settings to suit different bottle materials for the best results.

  1. Water Bottles

Select water bottles with a sublimation-ready coating or a polymer coating compatible with sublimation ink. Additionally, choose bottles with a smooth and flat surface for easier printing and transfers.

  1. Heat-Resistant Tape or Adhesive

During the printing process, you will need heat-resistant tape or adhesive to secure the sublimation paper onto the water bottle. It helps to prevent the paper from shifting and ensures accurate alignment.

  1. Protective Gear

Wearing protective gloves and a mask is recommended when handling sublimation inks and using the heat press machine. It helps protect against potential ink contact or burns, or inhaling fumes.

  1. Design Software

If you don’t have ready-made designs, you will need graphic design software such as Adobe Photoshop or CorelDRAW to create and edit the artwork or graphics you will print on the water bottle.

  1. Cleaning Supplies

You may need cleaning supplies like lint-free cloths and isopropyl alcohol to clean the water bottle surface before printing to ensure proper ink adhesion.

  1. Optional Accessories

Depending on the type of heat press you’re using, you may need optional accessories such as a heat-resistant mat or silicone wrap. You will use these to wrap around the water bottle during the heat press process, ensuring even heat distribution and preventing potential marks from the heat press’s platen.

The Process of Sublimating a Water Bottle

Step-by-Step Process of Sublimating on a Water Bottle.

  1. Design Your Artwork

Using graphic design software, create or customize your desired artwork or design for the water bottle. Consider the dimensions and shape of the bottle to ensure proper placement and alignment.

  1. Prepare the Water Bottle

Clean the surface of the water bottle using a lint-free cloth and isopropyl alcohol. This ensures the surface is free from dust, oils, or any contaminants that may affect the adhesion of the sublimation ink.

  1. Print the Design on Sublimation Paper

Load sublimation paper into your sublimation printer and adjust the print settings according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. Print your design onto the sublimation paper, ensuring accurate sizing and placement.

  1. Secure the Sublimation Paper on the Bottle

Carefully position the printed sublimation paper onto the water bottle’s surface, ensuring the design is aligned correctly. Use heat-resistant tape or adhesive to secure the paper, ensuring it does not shift during the transfer process.

  1. Preheat the Heat Press Machine

Preheat your heat press machine to the recommended temperature for sublimation printing, usually around 380-400 degrees Fahrenheit (193-204 degrees Celsius).

  1. Transfer the Design Onto the Water Bottle

Place the water bottle with the secured sublimation paper into the heat press machine. Ensure the design is positioned correctly and the pressure is evenly distributed.

  1. Apply Heat and Pressure

Close the heat press machine and apply firm pressure. Set the timer according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, typically around 60-90 seconds.

  1. Remove the Water Bottle From the Heat Press

Once the timer is complete, carefully open the heat press machine and remove the water bottle using heat-resistant gloves or tongs. Be cautious, as the bottle will be hot.

  1. Peel off the Sublimation Paper

Allow the water bottle to cool slightly, then gently peel off the sublimation paper from the surface. The design should be transferred onto the bottle, leaving a vibrant and permanent print.

  1. Inspect and Clean the Water Bottle

Inspect the transferred design for any imperfections or areas that may require touch-ups. Clean the water bottle using a mild soap and water, avoiding abrasive cleaners that may damage the print.

Water Bottle Sublimation in a Convection Oven

Sublimating on a water bottle using a convection oven is an alternative method to achieve sublimation prints. The first four steps will be similar to using a heat press; following those, you can continue to your convection oven. 

  1. Preheat the Convection Oven

Preheat your convection oven to the recommended temperature for sublimation, typically around 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius). Ensure adequate preheating time for the oven to reach the desired temperature.

  1. Transfer the Design Onto the Water Bottle

Place the water bottle with the secured sublimation paper into the preheated convection oven. Ensure the bottle is positioned securely and does not come into contact with any of the oven’s surfaces that may damage the print.

  1. Sublimation in the Convection Oven

Bake the water bottle in the convection oven for the recommended time, usually around 10-15 minutes. The heat from the oven will cause the sublimation ink on the paper to convert into a gas, which will penetrate the coating on the water bottle’s surface and permanently bond with it.

  1. Cool Down and Remove the Sublimated Water Bottle

Once the sublimation time is complete, carefully remove the water bottle from the convection oven using heat-resistant gloves or tongs. Place it on a heat-resistant surface to cool down completely before handling.

  1. Peel off the Sublimation Paper

Once the water bottle has cooled, gently peel off the sublimation paper from the surface. The design should be transferred onto the bottle, leaving a vibrant and permanent print.

  1. Inspect and Clean the Water Bottle

Inspect the transferred design for any imperfections or areas requiring touch-ups. Clean the water bottle using a mild soap and water, avoiding abrasive cleaners that may damage the print.

How to Finish a Sublimation Water Bottle

Finishing sublimation water bottles involves the final steps to enhance the appearance and protect the sublimated design. Here are some key finishing techniques to consider:

  1. Clear Coating

Apply a clear coating or varnish over the sublimated design to provide added protection against scratches, fading, and general wear and tear. Choose a clear coating specifically designed for sublimation to ensure compatibility with the ink and substrate. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper application and drying times.

  1. Gloss or Matte Finish

Consider using a gloss or matte finishing spray to enhance the overall aesthetic of the sublimated water bottle. A gloss finish provides a shiny and vibrant appearance, while a matte finish offers a more subtle and elegant look. Test the finishing spray on a small area before applying it to the entire bottle.

  1. Heat Pressing

For certain specialized finishes, such as glitter or holographic effects, heat pressing can be applied after sublimation. Use heat transfer vinyl or special sublimation papers designed for these effects. Apply the heat press at the appropriate temperature and pressure to transfer the desired finish onto the water bottle’s surface.

  1. Embellishments

You can also add embellishments to the sublimated design for a unique and personalized touch. This can include rhinestones, sequins, or other decorative elements. Ensure that any embellishments are securely attached and do not interfere with the functionality of the water bottle.

Care and Maintenance of a Sublimation Water Bottle

Proper care and maintenance of a sublimation water bottle can help ensure the longevity and vibrant appearance of the sublimated design. Here are some tips to keep in mind.

  1. Handwashing

It’s recommended to hand wash sublimated water bottles using mild soap and water. Avoid using abrasive cleaners or scrub brushes that can potentially damage the print. Gently clean the bottle’s surface with a soft cloth or sponge.

  1. Avoid Extreme Temperatures

Sublimated water bottles are typically designed to withstand normal temperature variations. However, extreme heat or freezing temperatures may affect the durability and appearance of the print. Avoid exposing the bottle to excessive heat or leaving it in freezing conditions for prolonged periods.

  1. Avoid Dishwashers and Microwaves

Sublimation water bottles are not dishwasher or microwave safe. The intense heat and harsh dishwasher detergents can fade or damage the sublimated design. Similarly, microwaving the bottle can cause the ink to deteriorate or warp the bottle’s structure.

  1. Handle with Care

Treat the sublimated water bottle with care to avoid scratches or dents that may impact the appearance of the design. Avoid dropping the bottle or subjecting it to rough handling.

  1. Store Properly

Store the sublimated water bottle in a clean and dry place when not in use. Avoid placing heavy objects on top of it, as this may cause deformation or affect the integrity of the print.

  1. Regularly Inspect the Prin

Periodically inspect the sublimated design for any signs of wear, fading, or peeling. If you notice any issues, discontinue use and consider replacing or seeking professional assistance to restore the print.


Water bottle sublimation is a captivating method for personalizing and customizing water bottles. Using sublimation printing techniques, you can transfer vibrant designs onto a bottle’s surface, resulting in stunning and durable prints. This water bottle customization technique allows for creativity and brand expression, whether for personal use, promotions, or gifts.

Moreover, you can use a heat press to transfer your designs onto your bottle or go the more DIY method and use a convection oven. Follow the steps we’ve outlined, but remember to follow manufacturer guidelines for optimal results, from preparing the surface to applying heat and pressure. 

With endless possibilities for customization, sublimation offers a unique way to make a statement. So embrace your creativity and enjoy bringing your imagination to life through water bottle sublimation.


Can you sublimate any water bottle?

Not all water bottles are suitable for sublimation. Choosing bottles with a sublimation-ready coating or a polymer coating compatible with sublimation ink is essential. Stainless steel, aluminum, and certain types of polymer bottles are commonly used for sublimation.

Can I use a regular inkjet printer for sublimation?

Sublimation requires specialized sublimation printers specifically designed to work with sublimation inks. These printers have features that allow them to reproduce colors accurately and handle the unique properties of sublimation ink.

Is sublimation printing on water bottles durable?

Sublimation printing on water bottles creates a durable and long-lasting print. Sublimation ink bonds with the bottle’s surface, resulting in a vibrant, scratch-resistant design that won’t fade over time.

Can I wash sublimated water bottles?

You can wash sublimated water bottles. Handwashing them using a mild soap and water is generally recommended, avoiding abrasive cleaners that may damage the print. However, it’s essential to check the specific care instructions provided by the manufacturer to ensure proper maintenance.

Can I sublimate on curved water bottles?

Sublimating on curved water bottles can be more challenging compared to flat surfaces. It requires careful positioning and may require specialized accessories like heat-resistant wraps or mats to ensure even heat distribution during the sublimation process.