How to Make Personalized Tumblers And Yeti Cups
The smile on anyone’s face when receiving a personalized tumbler is priceless. Learning how to make personalized tumblers and Yeti cups is pretty straightforward.
Just prepare your tumbler by cleaning and priming it well and apply the first layer of epoxy. Prepare the decals, then add the vinyl decal after 12-24 hours. Finish off by adding another layer of epoxy and allowing it to cure.
Here’s the step-by-step guide on how to make personalized tumblers and Yeti cups. We also addressed common epoxy crafting issues like uneven coating, delamination, discoloration, and dimpling and tips on how to solve them.
What You’ll Need
- 1 Stainless steel tumbler
- Black spray paint (flat)
- 91% rubbing alcohol
- Non-toxic epoxy resin
- Clear vinyl transfer tape
- Pearlescent mica powder of choice
- Metallic mica powder of choice
- Alumilite dye of choice
- Measuring cups
- Popsicle sticks
- Nitrile gloves
- Cup turner
- Cricut maker
- Blow torch
1. Prepare the blank
- Pre-wash your stainless steel tumbler or yeti cup with rubbing alcohol. This step will remove all dust and adhesive residues from labels, etc.
- Apply two coats of flat black paint spray, allowing an hour between coats. You can also use other colors as the base of your tumbler.
- Add your design. You can do glitters or paint.
2. Apply the epoxy
- Apply a thin layer of clear epoxy to the tumbler, carefully spreading it with your gloved finger.
- Mix your epoxy using a 1:1 ratio of A and B. You can use pearlescent or metallic mica powder and Alumilite dye for the colors. The Alumilite enhances the color of the mica, making it darker or lighter, depending on the color you add.
- Apply your epoxy as desired. You can use the pouring method (pouring the epoxy directly on the cup), modified pour (lightly drizzling the epoxy using a popsicle stick), brush method (using a silicone brush), or rub method (using a gloved finger). Each has different results, so find out which works best for you.
- Lightly torch your finished tumbler to remove air bubbles.
- Let it dry for 24 hours to fully dry the epoxy.
- Sand and clean with rubbing alcohol to make your personalized tumbler ready for the next step.
3. Prepare the decal
- To make the decal, create a layout of your font or design on your computer.
- Print your design using a Cricut. Remove the uncut parts to reveal the design.
- Cut out a piece of transfer tape, peel off the backing, and apply to the design.
- Remove air bubbles using a burnishing tool, carefully working on both sides. This will also force the design to transfer to the tape.
4. Add the decal
- Position your decal on the part of your tumbler.
- Using a popsicle stick, rub the design to transfer it to your tumbler.
- Carefully peel off the backing.
5. Apply the final epoxy coating
- Mix clear epoxy using the 1:1 ratio.
- Apply it on the tumbler, carefully rubbing the epoxy all over the tumbler as it turns.
- Torch your personalized tumbler to remove air bubbles. Let it dry.
- Sand and apply another layer, repeating B and C.
- Let it dry for at least 12 hours on the cup turner. Remove and cure for another 48-72 hours.
Personalized Tumbler and Yeti Cups Common Issues
Beginners may encounter some issues that may prevent them from pursuing epoxy resin crafting. Here are some tips and tricks to avoid these common problems.
The uneven coating on your customized tumbler could result from the following reasons:
- Adding catalysts to the epoxy
Adding catalysts to your epoxy is not necessary. Manufacturers promote adding catalysts to shorten the curing process, but it has adverse effects on the end product’s quality.
Catalysts add an external source of heat that causes premature hardening, while the epoxy underneath has not thoroughly dried. The A and B components of the epoxy are enough to polymerize on their own.
- Uneven turning
A wobbly wand or ill-fitting cup holder results in an uneven coating, especially if using the pouring or modified pouring method.
Ensure to check your setup first to solve the wobbling of your cup turner. Remove the wand and secure the screw on the motor and the wand by adding some thread lock so the screw won’t pop out.
You can also find a cup holder that fits better. A foam football or a better fitting foam roller of the appropriate size is a good option. Another is moving the middle support to the wand closer to the cup. Adding a roller bearing also helps stabilize the turning.
- Too slow cup turner
If your cup turner is too slow (2.5-3 RPM) and you use the pour or modified pouring method, the epoxy moves to the bottom of the tumbler or cup. If using a slow cup turner, use a silicone brush or a gloved finger to slowly apply the epoxy, carefully smoothing it as you go.
Cloudy / Loss of Gloss
Excessive moisture could cause a cloudy epoxy finish, mainly if you worked on your personalized tumbler during the winter in uncontrolled temperature. This is one reason you should not rush the drying process before applying the subsequent coating.
You should also not enhance drying by adding a catalyst. Before working on your cups and tumblers, ensure that they are thoroughly dry and clean. If humidity is too high, take a break from crafting unless you’re willing to risk the quality of your work.
Another reason for clouding and loss of shine is the epoxy itself, especially if it is too cold. To solve this, measure out your A and B components and let them in a bowl of warm water before mixing.
Separation of Layers
Separation of layers (delamination) happens when the first and second epoxy layers don’t bond together. There are two methods to add the next layer.
One is the 3-5 hour method. This is best if you're working on a simple design like adding glitters, and you'll add two coats of epoxy to seal the design in. After 5 hours, the epoxy has gelled enough but hasn't hardened yet, so adding a new layer allows the second layer to bond with the first.
The second method is to allow the epoxy to fully dry in 12 hours, then sand the first layer. Rub it down with rubbing alcohol to remove dust and other foreign matters that might prevent bonding. Apply the next layer of epoxy and let it dry for another 18-24 hours. Your personalized yeti cup is fully cured in 72 hours.
Yellowing and Discoloration
Here are some tips you need to remember to prevent discoloration (yellowing or browning) of your personalized Yeti cup.
- Avoid over torching
Over torching and using the wrong materials can cause discoloration to your personalized tumbler. To avoid discoloration from over torching, pass your torch once or twice over your work. This should be enough to remove the air bubbles.
- Use UV-resistant epoxy resin
Be sure to use a UV-resistant epoxy resin. It is best to protect your personalized tumbler from overexposure to UV rays.
- Compatibility of materials
Another helpful trick is to read the user guide for your dye. Some colors, usually green, react with the epoxy and become blue. Always check the compatibility of your epoxy and dye.
- Avoid using oxidized epoxy
Sometimes the very cause of discoloration and yellowing is the epoxy itself. The hardener is most susceptible to oxidation as the container itself is not airtight, so oxidation is bound to happen. Always check the shelf-life of your epoxy.
If you observe slight yellowing of the hardener, you can still use it without effect on the curing time. Note that very noticeable discoloration is a red flag.
These are the top reasons for dimpling and how you can avoid them:
- Air bubbles and dust particles
Hours of hard work go to waste if you are not careful with this. However, some crafters suggest using a toothpick to pop the air bubbles or blow out the bubbles using a straw. Both methods are very labor-intensive and ineffective.
A hairdryer and heat gun may work. However, these can introduce dust particles and hair to your work.
The best way to remove air bubbles is to use a blow torch. You can adjust the intensity of your blow torch’s flame by turning the gas knob to your desired intensity.
- Over torching
The secret to effective torching is passing the torch once or twice over your tumbler, just close enough so you can see the bubbles popping. Passing more than twice or too close over a specific part may cause over torching, which causes dimpling too.
- Fluctuating temperature
Another cause of dimpling is unstable temperature. The room temperature should range between 75-86°F (24-30°C) to dry your personalized yeti cup evenly. This is a challenge, especially during winter, unless you can afford to heat your workshop during the drying process. However, you can make a DIY heat box. Also, do not attempt to use a heat gun or torch, as prolonged heat will prevent your epoxy resin from properly drying.
With the current crafting market reaching an enormous $43 billion, you'll know that this is serious business for some. While others do it as a hobby, learning how to make personalized tumblers and yeti cups and incorporating your creative designs can be a stepping stone towards a lucrative career.
How do you feel about making your personalized yeti cups? Are you ready to explore a hobby that could change your life? Share your thoughts in the comments.