Try This: Sublimate a Children’s Lunchbox

Appeal to parents and kiddos with this personalization project.

Learn how to easily sublimate an aluminum insert for a children’s lunchbox in the following tutorial. 

Materials needed:

  • Sublimation printer (a Sawgrass printer is used in this tutorial)
  • Transfer paper
  • Heat press
  • Heat gloves
  • Room-temperature water
  • Handle lunchbox*

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*Note: The lunchbox used in this example is available from Sublimation101; however, a similar lunchbox from another supplier can also be used. (All images courtesy Sublimation101)

Step 1: Set up the design

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Open CreativeStudio (if working with a Sawgrass printer) and proceed to the template for the lunchbox. Size the image accordingly and leave about a 1/10″ border bleed.

Step 2: Prepare the aluminum

Remove the protective film from the aluminum (most aluminums have a protective film). 

Step 3: Prepare to sublimate

Line up the transfer paper and aluminum in the designated area. Once lined up, use two pieces of heat tape to hold it in place. 

Step 4: Press the aluminum

Because you’re working with an aluminum insert, you only want to press at 400 F for 30 seconds, rather than at 60 seconds as with most metal sublimation. The reason is the gauge of the metal is not as thick. If you press for a longer time, you can scorch the coding or make the image look distorted from too much time. 

Step 5: Cool down

Remove the aluminum from the heat press and place it in room-temperature water to cool. Dry the aluminum.  

Step 6: Complete the project

Remove adhesive cover from the lunchbox and apply the aluminum piece to the lunchbox. Once inserted, wipe off any fingerprints and you’re finished. 

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Extra tip: What I like to do before I secure the metal onto insert products, is do a practice insert run. Line up the metal and put it onto the item to make sure it’s secure, then remove the covering to remove the adhesive. Do this a couple of times until you’re comfortable. 

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Michael Kaminsky

Michael Kaminsky


Michael Kaminsky is the CFO at Sublimation101 in Branchburg, New Jersey. He has been with the company since June 2015 and practicing sublimation for over 25 years, and he has led training classes at THE NBM SHOW (now GRAPHICS PRO EXPO) since 2000.

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