Just over a month ago Cricut released the Cricut Mug Press. At first, the mug press seems potentially baffling: a heat transfer system that can make mug designs. But after just a month with my mug press, I'm obsessed. Unlike the Cricut Joy which took a few months for me to figure out why it was worthy of a purchased, the mug press immediately makes sense. But what makes it special? What does it do different? Let's find out.
Going Beyond Vinyl
If you own a Cricut, your probably no stranger to vinyl. I've put it on everything from wooden signs, to glassware, to mugs and even made a chess board and chess pieces. Vinyl is it's own level of fascinating. But vinyl is also tricky. It is often a multi-step process with weeding, transfer paper and a lot of crossed fingers and deep breathing. And none of that vinyl is machine washable. Mugs and glassware must all be hand-washed unless you want your beautiful designs to quickly become botched.
But the Cricut Mug Press changes the game entirely by using infusable ink. Now, you should know that this technique (sublimation) existed well before Cricut. And there are many mug heat presses on the market; however, Cricut is bringing this to the mainstream and all in an elegant design.
The Cricut Mug Press uses infusible ink and takes that ink and makes it part of the mug itself. That means your creation will feel silky smooth. It also means that your mug is machine washable. This is not a mug for a week or a special event; this is so much more.
If you've never worked with infusible ink, it's a whole different beast compared to vinyl. Vinyl feels pliable and sticky where as infusible ink feels stiff and papery. When you start working with infusible ink, you might think to yourself how drowned out the colors appear, but once that ink is on the desired object, the color is incomparable. It's beyond vibrant. It's radiant!
Like other Cricut products, you can expect the same high quality packaging you've come to expect from other Cricut brand products. What you won't get is much of anything to help make your first mug. Neither ink nor mug is included. That's fairly standard these days, but it means the cost for starting is a little higher than the MSRP of the Mug Press itself at $199.99.
I should also note, you do need a PC or Mac to get your Mug Press working. There is a software and firmware update to get your mug press to turn on. The process is pain-free, but those who only design with iPhone, Android or iPad will need to find a friend with a PC to get their Mug Press up and functioning.
But within a few minutes, your Cricut Mug Press is fully functional.
Additionally, it seems Cricut understood that the Mug Press is a little trickier than previous machines in terms of utilizing Cricut's Design Space software. Thankfully, they included many tutorial videos to show you how to get designing ASAP. The videos are quick and easy to follow. This isn't a 20 minute video with you holding your breath each step of the way; designing never felt easier.
What surprised me most about my Cricut Mug Press? It's fun to use! There's something so fascinating about the whole design process. And with Cricut's continual expansion of Design Space, there's a wealth of options for creating personal mugs.
When it comes to the pressing of the mug itself, the process is smooth, and Cricut's clearly labeled color coding lights will show you where your mug is during the heat press process.
Check out a video of two other Cricut mugs I made
If there is a con to be found, it's that Cricut hasn't quite released many predesigns for the Mug Press. There's some basic monograms, a couple teacher designs, and a totally impractical ocean wave; I just wish there was more. Where it seems the Cricut Joy released with a wealth of insert card designs, the Mug Press options feel scant. And over a month after its release, the options still feel bare. You'll need a designer's eye. With so many new mug press groups popping up, there should be no shortage of inspiration.
Cost to Get Started
So let's start with some basics. The Cricut Mug Press MSRPs for $199.99. If you get the Essentials Bundle, that is currently listed for $229.99 you'll get4 ceramic 12oz, mugs, 2 packages of infusible ink, 5 neon infusible ink markers and heat resistant tape. It's a perfectly serviceable bundle.
There's also the difficult to get Everything Bundle, for $269.99. This includes 8 12oz mugs, 6 different infusible inks, 10 markers and 2x heat resistant tapes.
The short answer is you need ink and you need mugs. Ink ranges in price from as cheap as $4 up to $17.99. If you're getting the small Cricut Joy Ink sheets, that will make you 2 mugs (and not really quite cost effective), but if you get the larger sheets, you could get as many as 8-10 mugs depending on how you utilize space.
There's a lot of discussion about mugs online. For me, the Cricut mugs are definitely the way to go. You can get 36ct of 12oz mugs for $74.99. And that's before any discounts stack ( Cricut Access Subscription gets you 20% off and code MELODYLANE will net you an additional 10% off and free shipping). If you're buying in bulk, you can get mugs as cheap as $1.50 a mug and the quality is top notch. A 36ct of 15oz mugs will run you $99.99. Again, that's before any discounts. All things considered, it's pretty price efficient.
Additionally, there are a wealth of deals of Cricut brand mugs online from major retailers including Joanne's.
You are also going to need a Cricut if you're interested in the design aspect of this. That's not really a hidden cost; presumably if you're interested in the Cricut Mug Press, you own a Cricut. I also can't say enough about Cricut Design Space, so for me, the Cricut Access program is totally worth it. That said, if you were just getting started with all of this, the cost is going to add up. But most of us crafters have much of this to begin with.
Sublimating and Sublimation Printers
With the advent of the Cricut Mug Press, there is a ton of people sublimating (that's what we call this process of infusing images onto a mug). Many people are investing in sublimation printers and ink. I will be clear: that's not for me. But if you're curious, those printers are running around $199 mark as well. For me, there's not enough "design" aspect to printing photos and putting them on mugs; that said, it's undeniable, the results of these printers are gorgeous.
So What I'm Saying?
Is buy it. Absolutely. The only problem I'm running into is, who am I going to make mugs for next? From the hardware to the software to the final product, the Cricut Mug Press is worthy of your time and money. It won't get pulled out as often as some of your other crafting materials, but when you do pull it out, it's undeniably impressive.