Best Inkjet Printer For Sublimation

What is Sublimation Printing?

Sublimation printing is a process where dye from ink is infused into the surface of materials like plastics, ceramics, metals and polyester fabrics to create permanent images and designs. It uses special sublimation inks which turn into a gas under heat and pressure to penetrate the top layer of the substrate.

When the print is removed from heat, the ink solidifies and becomes a part of the material. This allows for long-lasting, vibrant full color prints that won’t fade, crack or peel like traditional printing methods.

How Does a Sublimation Printer Work?

A sublimation printer works by using special dye sublimation inks and transfer papers. Here is the basic process:

  1. Print the design from your computer onto sublimation transfer paper using sublimation ink.
  2. Use a heat press to apply heat and pressure to transfer the print from the paper onto the polyester coated surface at around 400°F.
  3. The heat turns the solid sublimation ink into a gas which penetrates the coating and bonds at a molecular level.
  4. When cooled, the ink becomes a part of the material, resulting in a permanent print.

The result is vibrant, long lasting full color prints that won’t fade with washing or wear over time.

Types of Sublimation Printers

There are two main types of desktop sublimation printers:

Purpose-Built Sublimation Printers

Sawgrass, Epson and Ricoh make printers specifically designed for sublimation. They are pre-configured to work with sublimation ink and papers to product optimal print quality.

Converted Inkjet Printers

Standard inkjet printers like Epson EcoTank models can be converted to sublimation by using sublimation ink instead of regular inkjet ink. Converting a printer does void warranties.

Best Sublimation Printers

1. Epson SureColor F170

The Epson Surecolor F170 is an excellent dye sublimation printer made specifically for sublimation printing. It delivers outstanding photo-quality prints by spraying ink directly onto specially coated papers.

It conveniently handles both hard and soft substrates like ceramics and fabrics. The Epson PrecisionCore printhead ensures accurate dot placements and precise lines, while fast drying inks maximize productivity.

It features a compact, user-friendly design and straightforward set-up right out of the box. Overall, the Epson SureColor F170 is a high performance sublimation printer perfect for creative projects.

Key Features:

  • Professional quality dye sub prints
  • Handles a variety of materials
  • Precise prints with crisp detail
  • Compact and easy to use

2. Sawgrass Virtuoso SG500

The Sawgrass Virtuoso SG500 is considered one of the best desktop sublimation printers for beginners. It delivers print shop quality results in a compact consumer-friendly package.

It works seamlessly with Sawgrass SubliJet HD inks to produce professional dye sublimated prints for fabrics, hard goods, phone cases, ceramics, art and more. The intuitive touchscreen interface makes printing, copying and scanning super easy.

It also integrates directly with Silhouette Cameo and Cricut cutting machines if you want to cut out printed designs. Overall it’s easy to use, consistent and very versatile.

Key Features:

  • Broadcast print head for uniform ink coverage
  • Optimized for use with SubliJet ink
  • Integrates with Cameo and Cricut cutters
  • User-friendly set-up and operation

3. Epson EcoTank ET-15000

The EcoTank ET-15000 wide-format offers an economical solution for low-volume dye sublimation printing. It uses a refillable ink tank system allowing you to print thousands of color pages with the included ink supply.

It can handle sheets up to 13” x 19” making it great for printing banners, decor elements and apparel. The ink yields beautiful rich colors and is very affordable over time. Just be sure to use dye sublimation ink.

While more of an initial investment, the savings add up over time. Maintenance is also lower versus printers with disposable cartridges. If you print frequently the ET-15000 is a worthwhile sublimation printer.

Key Features:

  • Refillable ink tanks reduce waste
  • Low printing costs over time
  • Prints up to 13” x 19”
  • Minimal maintenance

Sublimation Inkjet Printer

A sublimation inkjet printer refers to an inkjet printer that has been converted or designed to be used with sublimation ink and transfer papers for dye sublimation printing. This allows regular inkjet printers to produce permanent prints by infusing dyes into polyester coatings on various substrates.

Some key advantages of sublimation inkjet printers include:

  • Ability to print vibrant, full color prints directly onto coated blanks
  • Permanent prints that become part of the substrate vs. sitting on top
  • Can print onto fabrics, ceramics, metals, acrylics, and other poly-coated surfaces
  • Professional quality result without need for cutting and weeding
  • Designs won’t crack, peel or fade significantly over time

There are two main approaches: using a printer made for sublimation, or converting an existing inkjet printer. Each has its tradeoffs to consider regarding print quality, cost and required maintenance.

Inkjet Printer For Sublimation

An inkjet printer made for sublimation will provide reliable results out of the box with minimal headaches, while converting an existing inkjet printer allows more flexibility and lower cost. Most converted printers use the Epson EcoTank product line.

When shopping for an inkjet printer for sublimation, some key features to look for include:

  • Print resolution of 720 dpi or higher for sharpness
  • Nozzle count over 300 for precision
  • Ink type – dye vs pigment (dye is preferred)
  • Paper handling – minimum letter/A4 size
  • Print speed 8+ pages per minute preferred

Be sure to use sublimation inks and papers to achieve quality results. A converted Epson EcoTank offers an affordable starting point, while printers from Epson, Ricoh and Sawgrass provide optimized reliability.

Sublimation Paper For Inkjet Printer / Sublimation Paper For Inkjet Printers

Sublimation papers are specially coated transfer papers designed for use in inkjet printers. They allow inkjet printers to be used for dye sublimation printing.

There are two common types:

Standard Sublimation Paper

The most popular and affordable sublimation paper for inkjet printing. These have a polymer coating to receive and release ink during heat transfer.

Peel-Off Adhesive Backed

Pricier but offer the convenience of a peel-off adhesive backing for easier heat transfers. They have adhesive on one side and polymer coating on the other.

Some benefits of sublimation paper for inkjet printers:

  • Enables vivid color transfers
  • Poly coating prevents bleeding/feathering
  • Adhesive-backed for convenience (peel types)
  • High release finish for easy transfer

Be sure to use papers optimized for type of printer and ink. Handle gently to avoid creases or damage to coatings prior to transfer.

Sublimation With Inkjet Printer

Using an inkjet printer for sublimation printing allows you to create full color prints that can be permanently heat transferred onto poly-coated goods. There are two approaches:

1. Convert Existing Printer

Many Epson inkjet printers like the EcoTank line can be converted simply by using sublimation ink instead of regular inkjet ink. Just be sure to use a new printer and only use sublimation ink going forward.

2. Buy a Sublimation Printer

Printers from Sawgrass, Epson and Ricoh are purpose-built for sublimation printing using special ink formulations and print profiles out of the box for reliable, production-quality output.

Using an inkjet printer for sublimation allows you to print colorful designs, photos and more which can be permanently heat transferred onto polyester apparel, mugs, keepsakes, decor and more for a fraction of the cost of other decoration methods.

Inkjet Sublimation Printer

An inkjet sublimation printer refers to either an inkjet printer designed for use with sublimation ink, or a standard inkjet printer that has been converted for sublimation printing.

These specialized printers allow you to print designs onto coated paper, then use heat and pressure to infuse the ink permanently into polyester substrates – from t-shirts and mugs to wood and tile.

Some advantages of inkjet sublimation printers:

  • Eliminates need for weeding/cutting like vinyl
  • Prints vibrant, photorealistic designs
  • Permanent transfer into the item vs. on the surface
  • Ideal for shorter runs due to lower set-up costs
  • Great for prototyping or custom one-offs

When shopping, look professional dye-sublimation models from Epson, Ricoh and Sawgrass or converted EcoTank models from Epson for the best results.

Epson Inkjet Printer For Sublimation

Epson inkjet printers are a popular option for sublimation among home crafters and small businesses due to cost savings and versatility.

There are two approaches to using an Epson inkjet printer:

  1. Convert an EcoTank (ET series) using sublimation ink
  2. Buy a SureColor model designed for dye sublimation

Converted EcoTank models sacrifice some print quality but cost significantly less. SureColor models offer outstanding results straight from the box but carry a higher price tag.

No matter which you choose, Epson inkjets can produce vibrant photographic prints on sublimation paper, perfect for custom apparel, keepsakes, decor and more. Just be sure to pair them with quality dye-sublimation ink and transfer media.

Best Inkjet Printer For Sublimation

The best inkjet printer for sublimation printing comes down to your specific needs and budget.

For home crafters, the Epson EcoTank ET-2760 offers an affordable entry point at under $300 but print quality is just “good enough”. Step up to an ET-15000 for lower ink costs and borderless 13″ x 19″ output.

For businesses, the Epson SureColor F170 is a great choice with robust photo-quality dye sublimation under $500. Sawgrass Virtuoso models are close behind with exceptional inks and printer reliability.

Consider monthly print volumes, paper sizes needed and overall print quality desired. Investing more upfront saves over time for high volume use.

Is An Inkjet Printer The Same As A Sublimation Printer

While inkjet and sublimation printers may look identical, there are some key differences that set sublimation printers apart:


Sublimation printers require specialized sublimation ink with unique formulations optimized for transferring onto poly-coated goods.

Print Profiles

The printer software has customized ICC color profiles for sublimation media to maximize print quality.

Print Head

Some feature upgraded print heads built to provide highly accurate ink droplets for photographic detail.

Maximum Temps

Sublimation printers allow heating to higher temperatures which improves ink vaporization and substrate penetration.

So while their appearances may be similar, dedicated sublimation printers differ in key areas that optimize them for dye sublimation printing.

Can You Use An Inkjet Printer For Sublimation

Yes, inkjet printers can be used for sublimation printing in two ways:

  1. Convert an existing inkjet to sublimation with compatible inks and transfer media.
  2. Buy an inkjet printer made specifically for dye sublimation.

Epson EcoTank models in particular can be easily converted with minimal hassle by simply using sublimation ink and compatible transfer papers only. No hardware changes needed.

Alternatively, Epson, Sawgrass and Ricoh make dedicated sublimation printers with optimized ink, print heads and driver settings specifically for dye sub printing right out of the box.

No matter which route you choose, always use quality dye sublimation ink and papers to achieve vibrant, high resolution transfers onto your poly coated goods and fabrics.

Sublimation Printer Vs Inkjet Printer

Sublimation printers differ from standard inkjets in a few key ways:

Sublimation PrinterStandard Inkjet Printer
Ink TypeDye sublimation inkPigment ink
Print HeadHigh precision; more nozzlesConsumer grade
Print ProfileCustom for sub mediaCoated glossy paper
Max Temp400°F +220°F
Post-PrintHeat transfer with pressNone needed

The hardware, software, ink and process are all optimized around sublimation with a dedicated printer vs standard inkjets which are made for everyday document printing and photo printing on paper. This customization allows a sublimation printer to produce the color accuracy, print precision and heat resilience required for quality dye-sublimation transfers.

Additionally, the prints from a sublimation printer are not the final products – they must be heat transferred onto a polymer coated substrate to realize the finished result. This is unnecessary with standard inkjet prints on copy paper or photo paper.

So while their functions may seem familiar, sublimation printers are highly specialized tools built specifically to enable high quality dye sublimation printing.

Sublimation Ink For Inkjet Printers

Sublimation ink allows standard inkjet printers to print colorful designs onto transfer paper, which are then permanently heat transferred onto polyester apparel, polymer-coated ceramics, aluminum blanks, bespoke wood decor and much more.

When shopping for sublimation ink for your inkjet printer, key factors to consider include:

  • Printer compatibility – Make sure ink fits printer model
  • Vibrant colors – Bright, saturated hues
  • Reliable performance – Proven ink chemistry
  • Reputable brand – Trusted by professionals
  • Value pricing – Competitive cost-per-print

Leading options for home crafters include InkOwl, Cosmos and Printer Jack inks. Epson also offers reputable inks for their line of SureColor printers. Partner with quality inks for stunning customizable prints.

Canon Pixma G1220 Megatank Inkjet Printer For Sublimation

The Canon Pixma G1220 Megatank inkjet printer offers an affordable route for low-volume sublimation printing thanks to ink tanks that reduce replacement costs.

While not sold specifically as a sublimation printer, reviewers have demonstrated decent results when converting the G1220 to dye-sublimation using third party ink.

Key strengths if adapted for sublimation use include:

  • Low ink costs with refillable tanks
  • Capable print quality for the price
  • Intuitive setup and maintenance
  • Compact, all-in-one design

Just keep in mind glossy photo paper is recommended for optimal print vibrancy. Be sure to factor in the added costs of third-party sublimation ink and transfer paper as well before converting the Canon Pixma G1220.

Can I Use Inkjet Printer For Sublimation

Yes, standard inkjet printers can be used for sublimation printing in two main ways:

  1. Convert an inkjet by replacing OEM ink with dye-sublimation ink.
  2. Buy an inkjet model specifically built for sublimation with required ink, print profiles and print heads to maximize quality.

When shopping for an inkjet printer to adapt for sublimation, Epson EcoTank models like the ET-15000 offer the most flexibility and least hassle for home crafters. For optimal print vibrancy with minimal fuss, Sawgrass and Epson also manufacture printers designed specifically for dye-sublimation.

Can Any Inkjet Printer Be Used For Sublimation

No, not every inkjet printer can be used successfully for sublimation printing. There are a few factors that determine compatibility:

  • Must accept third-party dye-sublimation ink cartridges
  • Cannot have non-removeable print heads or circuits
  • Ink tanks must be accessible for refilling
  • Works best with common paper sizes like letter or 13”x19”

Epson EcoTank and WorkForce Pro models are most commonly converted since they meet these criteria. All-in-one machines with scanners and fax functionality also tend to work well when adapted to sublimation ink.

If attempting to convert an existing printer, be prepared to sacrifice print quality and risk damaging the print head. For worry-free sublimation, opt for a dedicated dye-sublimation printer from Epson, Ricoh or Sawgrass instead.

Inkjet Printers For Sublimation

Inkjet printers provide an affordable route for low-volume dye-sublimation printing versus wide-format industrial printers. There are two options:

  1. Convert an Epson EcoTank or WorkForce model with dye sub inks.
  2. Buy a small-format sublimation printer from Epson, Ricoh or Sawgrass.

Converted inkjet printers sacrifice some print quality but cost much less. Dedicated sublimation models like Epson SureColor guarantee accurate hues.

No matter which you pick, using an inkjet printer with sublimation ink allows you to decorate poly-coated blanks – whether an iPhone case, ceramic mug or custom t-shirt – with vibrant, customized full-color prints via heat transfer.

Inkjet Printer Sublimation Ink

Using sublimation ink in an inkjet printer allows you to print colorful designs that can be permanently bonded onto coated surfaces like polyester shirts, ceramic mugs, aluminum panels and more using a heat press.

Sublimation ink converts from solid to gas when heat and pressure are applied during transfer, bonding with the polymer coating at a molecular level. This creates embedded images with photorealistic quality, crisp detail and vibrant hues that won’t fade, chip or peel.

When shopping, look for reputable third-party sublimation inks compatible with Epson, Canon and HP models. Brands like InkOwl, Cobra and Cosmos Inks deliver reliable performance paired with ICC print profiles.

Using an inkjet printer with sublimation opens new doors for creating customized metal signs, poly decor pieces, personalized apparel and much more in small quantities.

Can Inkjet Printers Be Used For Sublimation

Yes, standard inkjet printers can be adapted for dye-sublimation printing in two primary ways:

  1. Convert an existing inkjet by replacing OEM ink with third-party sublimation ink
  2. Purchase an inkjet printer specifically built for sublimation with right inks and settings

Converting an Epson EcoTank model with sublimation ink provides an affordable starting point. For optimized print quality with minimal headaches, Sawgrass and Epson make great pre-configured sublimation printers.

No matter how you source the printer, using an inkjet for sublimation allows you to print colorful designs on special transfer paper. Then using heat and pressure, those images are embedded into poly-coated blanks – from t-shirts and tiles to metal prints and mugs.

Convert Inkjet Printer To Sublimation

You can convert many consumer inkjet printers into DIY dye-sublimation printers simply by switching to compatible sublimation ink.

The most popular model line to adapt is the Epson EcoTank series. Other viable options include Canon PIXMA and some HP Deskjet printers.

The basic steps are:

  1. Obtain 3rd party sublimation ink matched to your printer
  2. Replace standard ink cartridges completely with sublimation ink
  3. Only use sublimation transfer papers going forward

Be sure to run several test prints and press transfers to dial in ideal settings. And remember conversion voids warranties. But it allows low-cost experimentation before investing in a dedicated sublimation printer.

How To Convert Inkjet Printer To Sublimation

Converting an inkjet printer for sublimation printing is relatively straightforward thanks to third-party dye-sublimation inks:

  1. Select printer – Epson EcoTank models like ET-2760 are most common
  2. Obtain sublimation ink matched to printer model
  3. Replace all standard ink cartridges with sublimation ink
  4. Print designs on sublimation transfer paper
  5. Heat press transfers onto poly-coated goods

Be sure to run test prints and train yourself on ideal press times/temperatures. And know that conversion voids warranties. But it allows low-cost experimentation before buying a pricier dedicated sublimation printer.

Inkjet Printer With Dye Sublimation Ink

An inkjet printer filled with dye-sublimation ink allows you to print colorful designs onto coated transfer paper. Then using heat and pressure, you can permanently bond the printed image onto poly-coated blanks – whether a ceramic mug, bespoke phone case or custom t-shirt.

The key advantage over standard inkjets is dye-sublimation ink forms a gas when heat pressed. This allows the ink to infuse into the polymer coating, rather than sitting on top like traditional ink. The result is embedded images with intense, photorealistic quality.

When shopping for sublimation ink, look for reputable third-party dye-sublimation formulas optimized specifically for popular Canon, Epson and HP consumer printers. Quality inks help maximize print vibrancy.

People Also Ask

What is a sublimation printer?

A sublimation printer is a type of printer that uses a process called dye-sublimation to print designs onto coated paper to transfer onto poly-coated goods. Special sublimation ink infuses into the coating when heat and pressure are applied with a heat press, resulting in permanent images.

What is the best budget sublimation printer?

The best budget sublimation printer is the converted Epson EcoTank ET-2760. By using an existing inkjet printer base and third-party sublimation ink, you can get started under $300. Print quality lags versus pricier models but the savings are substantial for hobbyists.

Can any printer be used for sublimation?

No, sublimation requires a printer that works with third-party dye-sublimation inks and supports common transfer paper sizes. Epson EcoTanks are the most common to convert while Epson, Ricoh and Sawgrass make great plug-and-play sublimation printers out of the box.

Does sublimation paper work in normal printers?

Sublimation paper will technically feed through standard inkjet printers, but print quality will suffer without the right dye-sublimation inks, color profiles and print settings. For best results, always pair sublimation transfer papers with compatible sublimation ink.

Is sublimation printing worth it?

Yes, sublimation printing is worth it if you plan to create customized full-color apparel, keepsakes, decor pieces or promotional products featuring your own designs or photography. The printed images last for years without cracking, peeling or fading significantly over time.


Toni Morrison is a seasoned expert with a decade of experience in the world of printers. With a passion for helping users find solutions to their printing needs, Toni leads the team at PrinterDown in providing valuable insights and support.

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