In this article we will talk about overall quality of custom enamelware in market since there are a lot of technologies how to produce them – but there are actually a few that are resistant and we want you to know more about every method out there.
We have started our business in early 2015, when we ordered our first batch of sublimation mugs to run our business. We already had everything needed to produce them – a printer and sublimation mug press which was also used for printing ceramic mugs.
We were excited coming in custom enamelware market and getting first requests for customization very soon. Not so long after that we started to receive few bad reviews about quality that print fades and comes off.
What to do next?
TO THE TEST
We started to test them out ourselves. We tried to scratch mug with a screwdriver and the print came off pretty easily. Next we placed mug in a bowl of water for few hours and noticed that sublimation coating with print comes off. We didn't even try to place mug on a campfire because we knew it will melt off as printing on these mugs was done at about 200°C in mug press. Sublimation coating also have started to turn yellow and print faded when placed in daylight for some time - that's because sublimation lacquer is not UV resistant.
We didn't like our test results and knew that if we continue like that, we soon will have to search for other business idea. We wanted that our customers gets the best product possible. We also wanted to have possibilities to customize every place on mugs, for example inside or bottom which we couldn't do with sublimation mugs.
We then made a research on how enamel mugs were made in early days and found that mugs are manufactured in over 1100°C. As we found out - there are mugs with one enamel coat and with two coats. Mugs with one enamel coat are lightweight, but they are easy to break and enamel chips off easily while mugs with two enamel coats are more durable and best for long term use.
We knew that to get good and resistant prints, we need two coat mugs and to find colours that can be baked in very high temperature so print is one with enamel itself instead with sublimation coating. With method we use print melts right into enamel and is one with the mug itself. There's no possibility to scratch it off, it will not melt on the campfire and it will not fade or turn yellow by time. The only way to 'delete' the print is actually to smash the mug.
There still may be defects when producing these mugs but we sort every one out, with no potholes or other damage so you always get the best enamelware.
In the market there are also few other techniques which are used to make custom enamel mugs.
There are mugs which designs are laser engraved. For this method laser burns down smooth enamel coating which then has matte effect. This is good method if you're in a hurry because laser engraving is very common nowadays, although it's more easier to break enamel down due to engraving. Also with this method it is possible to have designs only in black colour.
There are also mugs with vinyl stickers. This is the most affordable method as vinyl is cheap and cutters are in a lot of homes but those mugs are more or less to use for one time.
There are DIY 'printed' enamel mugs which are done with sharpie markers and baked in simple kitchen oven. This is good for small home projects or to entertain kids, but there's no big problem to scrap and wash designs off.
You may have noticed there are mugs with aluminium rim which most often are sublimation mugs. When using for some time, this is the place where the rust forms and a fact to remember for men with moustache – be careful, it will catch your hair.
Of course if you're in a hurry and want your custom enamel mug, you can do it yourself at home with markers and vinyl stickers or you can go to closest print shop which can produce sublimation mug in about 30 minutes but if you go for a quality and long term product, we invite you to think twice.
For more information about our possibilities, visit CUSTOMIZATION page.