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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Julia Schroeder

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