Is SubTHAT! water resistant?
Yes, generally, if the substrate is water resistant prior to SubTHAT! application. Applying SubTHAT! Prep Wipe will enhance water resistance on some materials (glass, ceramic, aluminum, stainless steel and some types of stone).
Is SubTHAT! UV protected?
SubTHAT! itself is not susceptible to UV exposure, and independent laboratory tests have shown minimal to no image fade when subjected to a simulation of two years of direct sunlight exposure. Additional exposure testing, including real-time testing, is ongoing.
Why am I seeing spotty application of SubTHAT! on substrates?
This depends on the type of substrate and the quality of surface:
- The surface needs to be clean prior to application of SubTHAT! – fingerprints, moisture, dust (including sawdust), etc. can either interfere with adhesion or be trapped under the film causing visual defects.
- Irregularities on the surface can cause uneven or insufficient pressure in low spots. A compressible heat conductive pad will conform to variations up to about half of its thickness – a 1/8” pad can conform to approximately 1/16” variation in surface flatness under proper platen pressure.
- Adhesion problems on wood are most commonly due to moisture released while pressing, including sap and any naturally occurring oils in the wood. Try pressing your piece between sheets of plain paper through several cycles to draw out any moisture/sap/oil that will interfere with SubTHAT! adhesion. If the piece warps after pressing, this suggests that the wood is in fact losing water – you can reverse the warping by alternating between face-up and face-down for each cycle until it stabilizes.
- Aluminum and stainless steel (304 and 316 work well) will give the best results when the surface is cleaned and prepped prior to application of SubTHAT!. Surface residues can be removed by wet sanding with 400-grit or finer sandpaper or abrasive pad (depending of the desired surface appearance) and application of SubTHAT! Prep Wipe (allowing 30-40 seconds of wet contact time).
- Glass and glazed ceramic may need to be cleaned with glass cleaner before using SubTHAT! Prep Wipes to prime the surface for best adhesion (allowing 30-40 seconds of wet contact time).
Why do I see texture on the substrate after applying SubTHAT!?
When SubTHAT! is first heated in the press, it melts and flows a bit to fill pores and surface irregularities before it starts to cure and harden. During this liquid stage, any texture that is being pressed into the surface of the film will be permanently embossed into SubTHAT! when it hardens. The smooth surface of the red silicone sheet preserves the desired surface finish (gloss or matte) by acting as a barrier to any texture that could be transferred from a heat conductive pad, Teflon/non-stick sheet, felt pad, etc.
PRO TIP: Keep your silicone sheet clean by periodically wiping with rubbing alcohol to remove any dust or SubTHAT! residue that may be sticking to the sheet.
Why does SubTHAT! not stick to wood substrates when applying (prior to heat pressing)?
SubTHAT! is designed with just enough tackiness to hold it in position while preparing for and during heat press application. Initial adhesion will be greatest on highly polished surfaces, and lowest on rougher, porous surfaces such as wood. You don’t need perfect adhesion prior to pressing – adhesion to your substrate will occur during the heat press cycle. As with any substrate, a clean, dry, dust-free surface will provide the best results.
What is the minimum heat press temperature for SubTHAT!?
Optimal heat press temperature is 410 degrees Fahrenheit, minimum is 370F with an increase in time heat pressing.
What is the preferred type of heat press?
Any press that can reach and consistently hold the recommended temperature throughout the press cycle and apply sufficient and even pressure should give good results. Low wattage presses may not be able to achieve and hold the proper temperature, but additional press time can often compensate for this. Sufficient and even pressure is easier to achieve in swing-away presses, particularly for larger substrates, but clamshell presses will work fine with the proper adjustment for thickness.
Why do my glass and ceramic tiles break after heat pressing SubTHAT! to the surface?
This is often caused by uneven pressure on the glass/ceramic stressing your substrate. If you regularly press pieces in the same position in your press, padding on the lower platen can get compressed over time and allow larger pieces to flex under pressure. Try replacing or repositioning your lower pad to avoid these compressed areas or simply try putting your piece in a different area of the press. If you are using a clamshell press, make sure that it is properly adjusted for the thickness of your substrate so that the top and bottom platens are parallel when closed.
How do I use SubTHAT! on ceramic tiles with curved edges?
SubTHAT! can be applied to tiles either face-up with a 1/8” heat conductive pad directly on top of the red silicone sheet to conform SubTHAT! down around the edges, or face-down so that the substrate is pushed down into soft base to push SubTHAT! up around the edges. Face-down application will take a little more time in the press, but can give more even coverage around the edges. Face-up may be required if the backside of the tiles has pronounced texture or grout ridges that a heat conductive pad cannot fully conform to.
For face-down application, layer the materials as follows from the base up:
- Nomex/felt pad or layers of fleece fabric
- SubTHAT! Red Silicone Mat
- Tile with SubTHAT! applied, face down
- 1/8″ Heat Conductive Pad
- Teflon/non-stick sheet
Can I apply SubTHAT! to mugs or curved surfaces?
This may be possible, provided that your press can evenly apply sufficient and consistent firm to heavy pressure over the entire curved area. In practice, this has proven to be a challenge to achieve.