Ceramic Decals vs. Sublimation Printing: A Look at Enamel Mug Creation Techniques

Ceramic Decals vs. Sublimation Printing: A Look at Enamel Mug Creation Techniques

Enamel mugs are a popular choice for their durability, versatility, and unique style. But did you know that there are two main methods for creating designs on enamel mugs: ceramic decals and sublimation? While both methods can produce an eye-catching results, there are some key differences between them.

Emalco’s Traditional Technique: Quality and Durability

Emalco uses a time-honored technique that has been around for over 100 years. This method, which involves ceramic decals, is known for its superior quality and durability. Here’s a closer look at the process:


The process begins with sheet metal being cut and pressed into the desired shape. Handles and rims are then welded on to complete the mug form.


  • The metal form undergoes a multi-stage enameling process that includes:
    • Grounding: A base coat is applied to prepare the metal for the outer layer. This is followed by a rigorous quality inspection.
    • Enameling: The mug is then coated with enamel, giving it its signature color and protecting the metal.
    • Decoration: Once the enamel has been cured, a ceramic decal is meticulously applied by hand. This decal is then fired at high temperatures to permanently fuse it to the enamel.

Sublimation Printing: A Faster, but Less Durable, Alternative

Sublimation printing is a quicker and more cost-effective process compared to ceramic decals. However, it comes at the expense of durability and quality. Here’s how sublimation printing works:

  • Printing: The design is printed onto special sublimation paper in reverse image.
  • Heat Transfer: The printed paper is then placed on the mug and heat is applied. This causes the ink to sublimate, transforming from a solid to a gas, and permanently dye the mug’s coating.

Why Emalco Mugs Are Superior

While both methods can create visually appealing mugs, Emalco’s traditional technique using ceramic decals offers several advantages:

  • Durability: Emalco mugs are significantly more durable than mugs decorated using sublimation. The fired-on ceramic decal becomes part of the enamel, making it resistant to scratches, fading, and even chipping. Sublimated designs, on the other hand, are more prone to peeling, cracking, and fading over time, especially with regular use and washing.
  • Safety: Emalco’s mugs use high-quality, lead-free materials, making them safe for use with food and beverages. Sublimation inks, however, may contain harmful chemicals, especially if they are not sourced from reputable suppliers.
  • Appearance: Emalco mugs have a unique, high-quality look and feel due to the multi-layered enameling process and the hand-applied ceramic decals. Sublimated mugs, on the other hand, can sometimes have a duller finish and the design may appear less crisp.

The Emalco Difference: A Commitment to Quality

At Emalco, we are committed to using the best materials and traditional techniques to create enamel mugs that are built to last. Our mugs are not only beautiful and stylish, but they are also safe, durable, and perfect for everyday use. So, the next time you’re looking for an enamel mug, choose Emalco and experience the difference that quality makes.

Contact us at emalco@emalco.com

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