Excited about Cricut’s new Infusible Ink products? This article has everything you need to know about using Cricut Infusible Ink pens and markers!
Cricut’s new Infusible Ink products are AWESOME! I have always loved making shirts and baby onesies with heat transfer vinyl, but I think Infusible Ink might be my new favorite heat transfer product. It’s super easy to use and your finished project has no bumps or texture or anything on top of it; it’s perfectly smooth with bright, vivid colors, and the ink is permanent so it lasts through wash after wash!
Everything You Need To Know About Cricut Infusible Ink Pens & Markers
Cricut Infusible Ink comes in two products: pens/markers and transfer sheets. The transfer sheets are similar to a sheet of heat transfer vinyl that you cut out and then press onto your project. But the pens and markers are different from regular Cricut pens in that you don’t draw directly onto your project; instead you draw onto a sheet of copy paper and then use a heat press to press the image from the paper onto the project.
This post is all about Cricut Infusible Ink pens and markers: what they are, how to use them, what types of projects you can do with them, and tips & tricks for using them. (I will be sharing another post all about Infusible Ink transfer sheets in a few weeks, so keep an eye out for that!)
- Everything You Need To Know About Cricut Infusible Ink Pens & Markers
- Cricut Infusible Ink Pens & Markers FAQs
- What is Cricut Infusible Ink?
- What are Cricut Infusible Ink pens & markers?
- How do Infusible Ink pens & markers work?
- Which machines can use Infusible Ink pens & markers?
- Which blanks are compatible with Infusible Ink pens & markers?
- Where can I buy Infusible Ink pens & markers and other supplies?
- Can I use a regular iron with Infusible Ink pens & markers?
- What other supplies do I need to use Infusible Ink pens & markers?
- Are Infusible Ink pens & markers like fabric pens?
- How long do Infusible Ink pens & markers last? Will they dry up if I don’t use them?
- Can I draw directly on my project with Infusible Ink pens & markers?
- Can I reuse my designs created with Infusible Ink pens & markers after the first press?
- Why are the colors I draw on the copy paper with Infusible Ink pens & markers so muted? I thought they were supposed to be bright and vivid!
- How do I care for the projects I make with Infusible Ink pens & markers?
- How do I make a project with Cricut Infusible Ink pens & markers?
Cricut Infusible Ink Pens & Markers FAQs
What is Cricut Infusible Ink?
Infusible Ink is a new line of Cricut products that allow you to get professional-quality heat transfer projects at home! In the most basic terms it’s ink that “infuses” into your project; instead of being a physical layer of material that attaches to your project with a layer of adhesive (like heat transfer vinyl), Infusible Ink actually sinks into your project, dying the project itself.
Infusible Ink permanently infuses into your blank leaving you with a seamlessly smooth image that lasts forever! It becomes one with the project itself, so the image will last until the t-shirt itself frays into nothingness. It doesn’t flake, peel, crack, wrinkle; it stretches and moves with the fabric of your project if you make a shirt or tote bag, and it’s completely smooth, like you “printed” directly onto your project!
What are Cricut Infusible Ink pens & markers?
Cricut Infusible Ink pens and markers are pens and markers containing Infusible Ink that are designed to work with your Cricut machine. You can load them directly into the accessory clamp of your machine and let the machine draw for you, or you can even draw by hand with them!
Infusible Ink pens have a .4mm tip for drawing clean, crisp lines. Infusible Ink markers have a 1mm tip for thicker lines or for coloring in images. Both the pens and the markers come in the Basic colors (cardinal red, bright green, ultraviolet, tawny brown, and black) and Neon colors (neon blue, neon yellow, neon green, neon orange, and neon pink).
How do Infusible Ink pens & markers work?
The science behind how Infusible Ink works is actually pretty cool! When you draw with Infusible Ink pens and markers, the ink on the paper is in a solid state, just like any regular ink. But Infusible Ink is special because when you apply heat, it goes through a chemical transformation and turns into a gas! At that point the ink comes off the copy paper and infuses directly into your project, then once the heat is removed and your project cools down, the ink turns back into a solid within your project.
One thing to note, this only works on certain materials; the ink “sticks” best to poly-based materials like polyester fabric or poly-coated ceramic coasters. Luckily Cricut has a whole line of blanks that have been tested to work with Infusible Ink! Currently you can get tote bags, t-shirts in mens, womens, and kids sizes, baby onesies, and coasters.
Which machines can use Infusible Ink pens & markers?
The Infusible Ink pens and markers are compatible with the Cricut Maker and the Cricut Explore series of machines and the Cricut Joy.
Which blanks are compatible with Infusible Ink pens & markers?
All of the Cricut blanks work with Infusible Ink pens and markers! You can make tote bags, coasters, t-shirts in Mens, Womens, and Kids sizes, or baby onesies.
Where can I buy Infusible Ink pens & markers and other supplies?
Infusible Ink products (pens, markers, transfer sheets, and blanks) are available exclusively at Michaels through the end of September. You can find them in stores or online. They will be available through Cricut’s website and other retailers starting October 2.
Can I use a regular iron with Infusible Ink pens & markers?
Unfortunately no. Regular household irons just don’t get hot enough to cause the chemical transformation in the Infusible Ink products. You need to use a heat press or Cricut EasyPress 2 that can reach temperatures of 400 F (you can also use the original Cricut EasyPress but with varied results because it doesn’t quite get hot enough…)
What other supplies do I need to use Infusible Ink pens & markers?
The exact supplies you need when doing an Infusible Ink project vary depending on the exact type of project (for example, you need a lint roller for making shirts, but not for making coasters, etc.) but here are the basic supplies you need:
Cricut Infusible Ink pens and markers: Obviously!
Cricut cutting machine: The Cricut Maker, Cricut Joy, or any of the Cricut Explore machines will work.
A heat source: The Infusible Ink system was built to work with the Cricut EasyPress 2. You could also use any other heat press machine, but a regular household iron does not get hot enough for Infusible Ink (the original Cricut EasyPress doesn’t quite get hot enough either, but you can use it if you want, you just risk less vibrant colors or incomplete transfers etc.)
Cricut EasyPress mat: You really should use an EasyPress mat for Infusible Ink; a regular towel works fine for iron on vinyl but it absorbs too much heat out of your project to make it work for Infusible Ink (you need all that heat to stay in your project blank rather than absorbing into the towel).
Laser copy paper: This is important; laser copy paper is designed to handle a high level of heat so it won’t burn and leave brown marks on your project. It also has a special coating that helps keep ink from bleeding, so your lines are still crisp and clear when you transfer them onto your project. Luckily you can easily find it for $7.99 on Amazon!
LightGrip mat: Best for holding copy paper.
Cricut compatible blanks: In theory any poly-coated blank will work, but Cricut only guarantees the brightness and long-lasting-ness of Infusible Ink on their blanks that have the Infusible Ink compatibility badge. They’ve done rigorous testing on the compatible blanks and know they work great; any other blanks might work, but they weren’t designed to work with the Infusible Ink system, so results aren’t guaranteed.
Heat resistant tape: Really important for holding your designs still while you apply heat, otherwise your design will ghost.
Lint roller (for fabric projects): Even if you don’t see any lint on your blank, lint roll it anyway. Some lint is so small you can’t see it, but it will still leave weird colored speckles on your finished project if you press it along with the Infusible Ink.
Lint-free cloth (for coasters): For the same reasons as above, you need to wipe down coasters with a lint-free cloth (like a microfiber cloth) before pressing.
Butcher paper: This protects your EasyPress from any escaped Infusible Ink, and also protects your blanks from overheating from direct contact with the EasyPress plate. Cricut recommends white butcher paper that is 14-32 lb.
Cardstock: This protects your EasyPress mat and work surface from any escaped Infusible Ink. Cricut recommends white cardstock that is 80 lb or heavier.
Scissors: For cutting away the extra copy paper before pressing your design.
Are Infusible Ink pens & markers like fabric pens?
Not really. They are pens and they do help you draw designs onto fabric, but Infusible Ink pens and markers contain ink that is specially formulated to transform into a gas when heat is applied, allowing the ink to permanently infuse into the fibers of your fabric.
How long do Infusible Ink pens & markers last? Will they dry up if I don’t use them?
Cricut says that Infusible Ink pens and markers will last a minimum of four full 8.5” x 11” pages of writing or drawing. And just as with any pen or marker, they might eventually dry up; it’s not likely to happen just because you don’t use them every single day, but over time the ink might dry out or the pigment can start to break down, resulting in colors that aren’t quite as vibrant as they once were.
Can I draw directly on my project with Infusible Ink pens & markers?
Nope. The ink in the Infusible Ink pens and markers is designed to be transferred off of laser copy paper and onto your project via a chemical/heat reaction. It might seem like there’s a couple extra steps to draw on paper and then transfer to the project, but there’s a method to the madness!
Can I reuse my designs created with Infusible Ink pens & markers after the first press?
Nope, it may look like there is still some ink left on the copy paper after you do the transfer, but it’s not enough for a second project. When you apply heat to the copy paper, the Infusible Ink detaches from the paper and permanently infuses into your project, leaving only traces behind on the copy paper.
Why are the colors I draw on the copy paper with Infusible Ink pens & markers so muted? I thought they were supposed to be bright and vivid!
Don’t worry, they will be! It’s part of the magic of the chemical reaction that happens when heat is applied; the ink you see on the paper is in its solid state, but once it transforms into its gaseous state and bonds with your project, it’s a slightly different color (read: brighter and way more vivid!)
How do I care for the projects I make with Infusible Ink pens & markers?
For fabric projects like shirts and tote bags, Cricut suggests that you machine wash them inside out with cold water and mild detergent (basically on the Delicates cycle) and then tumble dry low or hang them to dry. And don’t use fabric softener, dryer sheets, or bleach. You can iron or steam your fabric projects if you want to, just be sure to use low temperatures so the ink isn’t re-activated.
For coasters, wash them with warm water and a glass cleaner. Make sure you don’t use any colored cleansing agents because the color might transfer, and don’t use any harsh scrubby things like steel wool or scrubbing pads.
How do I make a project with Cricut Infusible Ink pens & markers?
The basics of using Infusible Ink pens and markers to do a project are pretty simple.
Step 1: Choose which pens/markers you want to use and a compatible blank.
Step 2: Create your design in Design Space and have the Cricut machine draw it out onto laser copy paper. (You can also draw or color in by hand if you wish)
Step 3: Apply heat with a heat press that reaches 400 degrees F.
Step 1: Choose your pens and markers and a compatible blank
You can choose any Cricut compatible blank and any of the Infusible Ink pens or markers that you wish for your project.
For this example project I chose the round ceramic coasters as my blank. And I decided I wanted to try a mix of thin pens and thick markers and colors from both the Basics and Neon color packs just so I could see the different colors and styles all together in one project.
Step 2: Create your design
Open up Design Space and create your design. You need to make sure any images you use are single layer shapes without any “fill” because the Infusible Ink pens and markers can only draw your designs. If you want your images to be full color, you can color them in by hand after the Cricut does the outline drawing part.
If you want to make a pre-designed project you can click the “Projects” button on the left and then search within the Infusible Ink category. If you want to design your own project, when you click the “Images” button on the left you can search for the word “draw” to find images that already single layer outlines that can be drawn with Infusible Ink pens and markers.
Before you make your project, make sure that all of your line types are set to “Draw”; you can see this by selecting an image or a layer and looking at the Linetype drop down menu in the toolbar at the top of the screen.
You can pick the specific color of Infusible Ink pen or marker you want to use for each line/shape by clicking on the color swatch square to the right of the Linetype drop down menu.
Click the green “Make It” button to send the design to your Cricut for drawing.
Always make sure that your design is set to mirror when doing heat transfers (regardless of whether you use Infusible Ink or iron on). You can do this with the Mirror toggle below each mat thumbnail in the Prepare screen.
On the Make screen choose “Copy Paper” as your material since that is what you will be drawing on.
The software will tell you which pen or marker to load into Clamp A to start. You don’t need a blade in Clamp B, but it won’t hurt anything if you leave a blade in there from a previous project.
This screen also tells you which additional Infusible Ink pens or markers you will need to draw out the entire project.
Load a single sheet of laser copy paper onto your LightGrip Mat and load the mat into your machine. Press the flashing Go button to start drawing.
Once all the lines of a single color are drawn, the machine will pause and it will let you know that you need to switch to a different pen before continuing.
Once the machine finishes drawing with all of the colors, you can unload the mat and remove the paper from the mat. If you want to color your design in by hand, do that now.
Step 3: Apply heat
When you are ready to transfer your design to your blank, cut out the design so there isn’t a lot of extra white space around the edges.
Pre-heat your EasyPress 2 to the correct settings according to the heat guide here. (There is also a basic list of instructions there to help remind you!)
Clean your blank with a lint roller (for fabric blanks) or a lint-free cloth (for coasters) to make sure there’s no lint or fuzz that will transfer onto your project.
Then flip your drawn design over and tape it face down onto the surface of the blank using heat resistant tape. Make sure you tape all the way around to the back of the coasters; you don’t want the tape to be on the face of the coasters when you apply heat.
Place a piece of cardstock on top of your EasyPress mat to protect it, then place your project on top of the cardstock. For the round ceramic coasters you need to place them upside down on the mat, but for fabric blanks you can place them right side up. (The heat guide will remind you whether your blanks go face up or face down.)
If your heat press is big enough you can press all four coasters at once to save time.
Cover your project with a piece of butcher paper and then place the Cricut EasyPress 2 on top of the project and hold for the recommended time. In this case my EasyPress was set to 400 F and 240 seconds.
DO NOT MOVE THE EASYPRESS while it is heating! This can cause your image to “ghost” making a weird duplicate shadow version of your image that is slightly misaligned. Just set the EasyPress down and leave it there unless the heat guide says to apply firm pressure (in that case, press firmly but don’t move it around!)
When the EasyPress is done carefully remove it from your project and put it back in its stand.
Then DO NOT MOVE YOUR PROJECT UNTIL IT HAS COMPLETELY COOLED DOWN! Same reason as above: while the ink is still hot and in its gaseous state, any slight movement can cause the ink to transfer to the wrong area of your project.
For the coasters, it took like fifteen minutes for them to cool all the way down because ceramic really holds onto heat. For fabric blanks it should only take a minute or two for your project to cool down.
After your project is completely cool, carefully remove the tape and the copy paper, and you’re done!
BONUS: 13 tips & tricks for using Cricut Infusible Ink pens & markers
1. Always follow the guidelines from Cricut EXACTLY! There’s no going back with Infusible Ink, so it’s important to get it right the first time so you don’t waste valuable ink and blanks! Cricut has their guidelines clearly posted in their Heat Guide, including instructions telling you when to tape a design down, or place a blank face up vs face down. Just do what they say and your projects will look great!
2. Use the right heat settings on your EasyPress 2. The heat settings are really important with Infusible Ink. If your heat press isn’t hot enough the colors won’t be as vibrant or saturated and you may have other issues such as the ink not fully transferring in spots. If it’s too hot you risk destroying the pigment in the ink.
3. NEVER move your EasyPress during the transfer. Seriously, don’t do it! The ink has to cool completely before it transforms back into its solid state, so if anything moves while the project is still warm it can cause the transfer to shift and create a ghost image in a slightly different area. Always let your project cool completely before moving anything, including the butcher paper on top.
4. Don’t forget to mirror your designs before drawing them. Heat transfers are always done face down, so make sure you set the Mirror toggle on when doing Infusible Ink projects. This also means, unless you are super talented and can write backwards, that you probably can’t do projects using your own handwriting. It’s best to set your Cricut mat to Mirror, let your Cricut draw out your project, and then color it in by hand.
5. Always use cardstock under your project! You can see in the photo below how much of the ink bled through the copy paper and onto the cardstock below when I pressed these coasters. It would have gone straight into my mat if the cardstock hadn’t been there, and then it could transfer into other projects I do later. And make sure your cardstock is big enough to cover the whole mat! You can see what happened to my friend Cori’s mat in her Infusible Ink troubleshooting post here (look for the picture of a sleeve with green leaves on it, then just read the whole post, there’s tons of good info in there!).
6. Always use butcher paper on top of your project! The butcher paper I put on top of my coasters burnt a little bit after the 4 minute press, and I’m really glad that heat wasn’t directly on my coasters. The ceramic coasters have the longest press time of any of the blanks, but still…no one wants scorch marks on their projects! The butcher paper also protects the plate of your EasyPress from any escaped ink.
7. Don’t reuse your butcher paper between projects. In the case of the paper above, it’s obvious you wouldn’t use that again or you’d risk transferring the brown scorch marks to your next project. But even if your paper isn’t visibly burnt, there might be microscopic bits of ink on the paper that could transfer to the next project, so it’s just safer to use a new piece each time.
8. Infusible Ink from pens and markers transfers EXACTLY as drawn. If you’ve ever drawn with markers before, you know you can get some slightly darker spots where your lines start and stop, or anywhere else where you color over an area you’ve already colored. Those details WILL transfer into your final project when using Infusible Ink pens and markers! You can see in the closeup photo below that there are little “dots” of darker orange where the Cricut started the line, went around the shape, and ended in the exact same spot, essentially doubling the ink in that one spot. It’s not really obvious or bad or anything, but just know, the ink will transfer EXACTLY the way it is drawn on your paper in terms of overlapping lines, etc.
9. Infusible Ink pens and markers are marked so you can tell them apart. The pens and markers come in exactly the same colors, but rather than have to take the cap off to see if it’s a pen or a marker, you can look on the body of the pen or on the base. The pens are labeled “Pen 0.4” and have an “F” on the bottom for “Fine tip”; the markers are labeled “Marker 1.0” and have an “M” on the bottom for “Medium tip”.
10. Always use laser copy paper. Other copy paper just isn’t designed to handle high heat and still retain bright colors. And on that note, always use the LightGrip mat with copy paper; the StandardGrip mat is too sticky and you’ll have issues getting the paper off the mat.
11. Always use heat resistant tape. When drawing designs with Infusible Ink pens and markers, you always want to use heat resistant tape to secure your design to your blank so it doesn’t move while pressing. (If you are using Infusible Ink transfer sheets, the backing is sticky and will hold the transfer sheet on your project without needing additional tape.)
12. Make sure your hands are totally clean and dry. This also means no lotion or oils or you risk messing up the ink when you are working with the copy paper.
13. You can “wrap” your design around the edges of your coasters. If your design is a little bigger than your coaster, you can wrap the paper around the edge and tape it down firmly. When the coaster is heated it will pick up the ink on the sides as well as on the top. (Unfortunately this little trick doesn’t work for the fabric blanks; if you try to press across seams or around edges you just end up with weird light spots on your project.)
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How To Use Infusible Ink Pens And Markers
- Infusible Ink pens and markers
- [EasyPress mat]
- Choose which pens/markers you want to use and a compatible blank.
- Create a design in Design Space, or choose a ready-to-make project. (Make sure all Line Types are set to "Draw" instead of "Cut")
- Mirror your design by switching the "Mirror" toggle on when previewing the mats.
- Set the material to "copy paper" and place a piece of copy paper on your LightGrip mat, then load it into the machine.
- Follow the on-screen instructions for loading pens and markers into the machine. If you are using multiple colors, the machine will pause when it is done drawing with one color and it will tell you which color to load next.
- Unload the mat and remove the paper from the mat. You can color in your design by hand now if you want.
- Pre-heat your EasyPress 2 according to the Heat Guide recommendations for your specific material and blanks.
- Clean your blank with a lint roller or lint-free cloth.
- Place your design face down onto your blank and tape it in place with heat resistant tape.
- Place a piece of cardstock on top of your EasyPress mat, then place your project on top of the cardstock.
- Place a piece of butcher paper on top of your project then press with your EasyPress according to the Heat Guide recommendations. Don't move the EasyPress while pressing!
- Carefully remove the EasyPress when it is done pressing, but leave everything else where it is until the project has cooled completely.
- Remove the butcher paper, copy paper, and tape from your project once it's cool, and you're done!
- Always follow the instructions found in the Heat Guide exactly
- Use an EasyPress 2 or other heat press that goes up to 400 degrees F
- NEVER move your EasyPress during the transfer
- Don't forget to mirror your design before drawing
- Always use cardstock under your project
- Always use butcher paper on top of your project
- Don't reuse your butcher paper between projects
- Be careful about dark spots when coloring with Infusible Ink pens/markers where your strokes overlap each other; those will show up in your project after the transfer
- Infusible Ink pens and markers are marked on the bottom; "F" for fine point pens and "M" for medium point markers
- Always use laser copy paper
- Always use heat resistant tape to secure your design
- Make sure your hands are clean, dry, and free of lotions or oils
- If you're making coasters you can "wrap" your design around the edge if it's a little too big to fit just on the top; make sure you tape the edges well!
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