|The perfect customized gift!|
Welcome to Cups 'N Stuff. Create the perfect customized gift.
Our commitment to quality
My husband and I decided years ago that we were going to produce the best photo mug possible… the most vibrant, realistic, and the most durable photo mug that can be made. We decided to use the very best equipment, processes, ink, and blank mugs available on the market. The result is that our photo mugs are the highest quality keepsakes with years of lasting quality.
My husband and I make every mug, one at a time by hand. We review each mug design and optimize it if necessary to produce the very best possible photo mug. We care greatly about quality and helping customers.
We are also sensitive to your schedule. We know that you don't want to wait weeks for your custom photo mug order to arrive. We can usually ship your custom mug within 24 hours after you place your order, even during the busy holiday seasons.
We do not try to compete on price with the large discount chains, or the large “business promotional” companies that make t-shirts, hats, pins, (and mugs), or the “mall mugs”. You can get "silk-screen" mugs for less than $1 in quantity. You can also get "soft coated" photo mugs fairly inexpensively.
Its okay to be a bargain-hunter and on a tight budget for a project. If a "soft coated" photo mug or silk-screen mugs will do, then please shop around. There are many companies that specialize in these items.
However, if you are looking for a keepsake photo mug that will last for years, hopefully this information will help you make an informed decision, and make you aware that all photo mugs are not created equal.
We make everything ourselves
At Cups N Stuff, we personally make everything personalized photo gift that you create on our web site, from the best quality blanks. This is not true for most photo gift companies you see on the web.
Do you remember the 2007 pet food recalls? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_pet_food_recalls). Everyone at the time was very surprised to learn that almost all dog and cat food in the USA was actually made by a single mega-factory out of the country.
Here's an industry secret about the photo gift industry... there's a similar trend. Did you know that the big box corporations, national drug stores chains, photo film development retail stores, and "discount" photo gift stores on the web, most don't make their own products? They are simply a store-front with pictures of photo gifts on their website. Once you click on the picture, your web browser is actually redirected to a mega-factory's web site. This same mega-factory makes photo gifts for multiple large retail outlets, drug store chains, and "discount" photo mug sites.
How can you tell? One way is to be on the lookout for your website address to change during the design and ordering process. Some mega-factory sites have found a work-around to this. If its a large national corporation, chances are that they do not own their photo gift facility or equipment... they subcontract it out to a mega-factory located who knows where.
Here at CupsNStuff, LLC, we are a small American company. You get personalized service and as little or as much help as you need on your design and order. You can completely create the design and order on our site. Or, we can help you if you need it. It is up to you.
Made in the USA
Its very difficult to find anything made in the USA. We are constantly looking for USA-made photo gift products. See Made-In-The-USA for more details.
We use a process called dye sublimation. This is an expensive and time-consuming process. Dye sublimation uses precise temperature, pressure, and time to transfer specialized inks into the surface of the photo mug, almost like a tattoo. If a quality blank photo mug is used, the image won’t scratch or fade over time (see “Our Mugs” section below). Unlike many “mall mugs” the image won’t easily fade over time or peel off.
There are other "photo transfer" processes on the market, but I'm not aware of any process that is as durable or that produces vibrant and realistic images than dye sublimation.
Our inks are very expensive specialized dye-sublimation inks. This is a 6-color process, consisting of precise combinations of black, cyan, light cyan, magenta, light magenta, and yellow inks. These inks come in small bags that attach to a specially modified inkjet photo printer. Each bag of ink costs us over $135 !!! Times 6, that's over $800 for a single set of ink.
There are much cheaper inks on the market. However, the results that we get are worth every penny for this premium dye-sublimation ink.
Mug-coating hardness is what determines a mug's durability and lasting image quality. The harder the coating, the better the mug. "Economy” mugs have a soft coating. With "soft coated" mugs, the image is easy to scrape off with an accidental fingernail scrape, and the “soft coated” mugs are not dishwasher safe. They can look good at first, but the image doesn't last.
If you want the best quality and a lasting keepsake, insist on a “Dishwasher-Safe” mug.
Our "boil test"
If you've narrowed your search to the few companies that offer "Dishwasher Safe" mugs, please be aware of this. Not all "Dishwasher Safe" photo mugs are created equal. We've developed a special "boil test" where we can evaluate and compare different vendors of blank photo mugs. We process a mug from each blank mug vendor that we evaluate, using a standard test pattern that we've developed. These finished mugs are then put in an aluminum pot of water with a tablet of Electrosol dishwasher detergent. As soon as the water comes to a full boil, the timer starts, and the mugs remain in concentrated detergent water at a hard boil for a full hour.
Why do we do this? A home dishwasher’s
peak water temperature is about 180 degrees Fahrenheit for only a few minutes,
whereas the “boil
test” is at 212 degrees Fahrenheit for a full hour in concentrated
dishwasher detergent. If a photo mug can survive this torture "boil
test" and come out looking good, then its reasonable to assume that
the mug will last for many years of daily dishwasher use without fading.
Below is a picture of the results of one of the many boil tests that we've done. Some companies "claim" they are dishwasher safe, but we test for ourselves. We only buy from a select few mug suppliers who are truely dishwasher safe, and can pass our 1-hour boil test.
Click on the image for a larger version.
I really appreciate you taking the time to read this far. Hopefully this information has been useful in helping you make an informed decision.
If you have any questions, feel free to call me at 1-256-677-4060, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Owner, Cups 'N Stuff
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