Thanks to today’s technology, printers are more feature-rich and advanced. Printers nowadays do more than just print on paper; high-profile printers can also print personal designs on almost any material. There are many printers under this category: circuit printers, heat transfer printers and sublimation printers — with the last one offering more compact options.
Dye-sublimation printers provide the best results when it comes to printing artwork or transferring dye on ceramics or fabrics. Dye-sublimation printing uses heat to transfer digital images on paper, plastic, textiles and other sublimation-friendly surfaces. With the best sublimation printer and the right ink, you can print transfers to create bespoke crockery designs, branded signs and customized clothing.
If you’re planning to do business that involves printing on anything besides paper, picking the right one for your business is essential. However, if you’re unfamiliar with these advanced printers, the selection process can be a tricky one.
So, what is the best sublimation printer for beginners?
List Of Top 5 Best Sublimation Printers for Beginners In 2023
A sublimation printer is one of the best ways to maximize technology for your business. If you’re new to sublimation printing, keep in mind that these machines need some initial investment. It sounds pricey, but it will be worth it in the long run. Good sublimation printers can save you money and time.
1) Epson Eco Tank ET-2760
If you’re looking for the best Epson printer for sublimation, this is one of them. The Epson EcoTank 2760 is an all-in-one inkjet printer that boasts of a superb tank system. This innovative printer doesn’t use conventional cartridges. Instead, it prints using four big ink tanks that users refill with ink bottles.
It is known for its excellent printing capabilities. One of its most popular features is its black page yield, which is one of the highest experts have tested. Therefore, the Epson EcoTank 2760 is an excellent alternative for people who want to print multiple pages of documents.
- 100-sheet capacity input tray
- USB 2.0 for PC connection
- Wi-Fi connectivity and wireless printing with Apple AirPrint
- Built-in copy and scan functions
- Comes with the following essentials:
- Produce set-up CD-ROM
- Power cord
- 127ml bottle of 502 black
- 70 ml bottle of 502 cyan, yellow and magenta
- High page yields
- Offers a variety of connection alternatives
- Low cost per print
- Easily converts to sublimation
- Easy ink level tracking
- Occupies less desk space
- Slow printing speed
2) Epson SureColor F170 Dye-Sublimation Printer
If you’re looking for another quality Epson sublimation printer, the Epson SureColor F170 is another option. This is one of the company’s most commercial sublimation printers. It is perfect for small business owners who want to produce t-shirts, mugs, mousepads and other custom items.
Thanks to its reliable PrecisionCore Technology, this printer guarantees the best results. You’ll enjoy a maximum print resolution of 1200 x 600 dpi, which makes your prints nearly life-like.
- Precision Droplet Control that saves you a lot of ink with great clarity
- High-capacity ink bottles
- Wi-Fi Connectivity
- Easy to print
- Effective and high-performing
- High-quality print contrasts and colors
- Low wastage
- Tedious installation process
3) Liene Photo Printer
One of the best printers for sublimation that also falls under the “niftiest category” is the Liene Photo Printer. This portable and wireless photo printer allows professional cameramen to bring the printer with them and immediately print copies of their work.
If you use the Liene Photo Printer, you’ll also receive support for an application called the Liene app, which enables users to easily print their photos. The package also includes 20 photo printer papers so that you can immediately test the printer after you unbox it. This is a universally compatible device that can work with a desktop computer, laptop, Android or iOS. As long as you have Wi-Fi connectivity, you can connect up to five devices at once.
There are plenty of good reviews for this product, so you’ll have peace of mind when using it.
- Wi-Fi connectivity option
- Dye Sublimation printing technology compatibility
- Suitable for five simultaneous connections
- Compatible with many devices
- Ships with 20 photo papers
- Prints 4×6 inches images
- Doesn’t work well with repetitive printing
4) Sawgrass SG500 Sublimation Printer
When it comes to special printing purposes, Sawgrass is a trusted name. The Sawgrass SG500 is the perfect product to use for your sublimation printing business. Compared to other professional printers, it comes with a more affordable price tag and still offers tons of features. This Sawgrass sublimation printer works well with the company’s print manager, as well as other CreativeStudio Online Designer apps.
Another plus: you get a 2-year warranty period on the printer!
- Suitable for desktop computers, laptops and smartphones
- WiFi connectivity option
- Two-year warranty period
- Print up to 51-inches long media
- Automated maintenance cycle
- Wi-Fi Connectivity
- Not as portable as other options
5) Evolis Classic Zenius Transfer Printer
The Evolis Classic Zenius is a high-capacity sublimation printer that lets you print a variety of products: passes, cards, badges and other wearables. Backed by the Evolis Premium Suite software, this sublimation printer comes with an easy-to-use printing configuration system, which users (even beginners) can easily understand.
You’ll operate the printer using the app. The app is a handy tool that doesn’t just do the printing; it also lets you know about your current printing status and ribbon availability.
- Print up to 120 cards
- USB connectivity option
- Suitable for desktop computers
- The best option for mass printing
- Capable of creating two million colors
- Great printing speed
- Not as reliable as other sublimation printers
Best-Rated Sublimation Out of the Rest
The suggested sublimation printers above are produced by renowned brands in the field, particularly Sawgrass and Epson. All of these brands have their areas of expertise, so it depends on the type of need.
Epson sublimation printers are more affordable compared to the others. These printers are also capable of completing different printing tasks, so if you’re dealing with multi-dimensional work, an Epson sublimation printer is the best for you. However, if you are focusing on a specific printing business, Sawgrass printers are ideal.
Ultimately, the best sublimation printer is the one that meets your budget and specific needs. So, take the time to research your options to make an informed decision before you buy.
Sublimation Printer Buying Guide
What is a sublimation printer?
Sublimation printers have gained increased popularity over the past few years because of the ability to produce a first-rate end product. From T-shirts to coffee mugs to giant printing, the sublimation process brings your designs to life. It’s often confused with a regular inkjet printer, and even though it can be defined as one, you’ll still need sublimation inks for the sublimation heat process.
A sublimation printer can produce dyes and transfer them to a compatible material such as plastic, card, fabric, or paper. It has many advantages, but it’s most famous for its ability to produce sharp details and vibrant colors.
Read on to find out how a sublimation printer works – what kind of equipment you’ll need and how to use it to create high-quality products.
How does a sublimation printer work?
First and foremost, the sublimation printing process requires you to have the following equipment:
- computer and printer software
- sublimation ink and paper
- heat press
- spray adhesive
- transfer gloves
- silicone cover sheet
- thermal tape
Choose a design you wish to print. While using a heat press, the fabric’s pores open up, and the sublimation printer releases dye onto the fabric. During the sublimation printing process, the ink changes from a solid to a gaseous state and then back to a solid state without undergoing a liquid state.
For successfully transfering the design to the fabric, use a special type of sublimation paper. When you combine both ink and fabric, the ink is embedded into the fabric, resulting in longer-lasting vibrant colors.
Standard Printers Vs. Sublimation printers: which is better?
The standard and sublimation printers different much in terms of production capacity and methods. That said, let’s first take a look at the key differences between dye sublimation and inkjet printers.
- Printing Process. While regular printers use ink-dot technology to print ink onto the document, a sublimation printer infuses the ink vapor onto the fabric.
- Ink. Unlike an inkjet printer that uses ink cartridges, sublimation printers need a special type of ink, called sublimation ink, to work properly.
- Color Quality. Standard printers use primary color dots, while sublimation ones produce images containing a continuous range of colors.
- Printing Capability. Both types of printers have limitations, with standard printers using normal paper, and sublimation printers needing sublimation paper.
Choosing between both types of printers depends on the intended use and specific application. For example, standard printers are mostly designed for printing documents or text materials. In contrast, a sublimation printer has a wider range of uses, such as creating promotional and personalized products like mugs, pillows, banners, phone cases, and textile printing.
However, compared to other printing techniques, there’s no denying that a sublimation printer has many advantages. First and foremost, the sublimation printing process is an easy and cost-effective method of adding personalization to products.
Secondly, it offers fantastic print quality – no dry time and high-resolution graphics due to its ability to make each and every dot a different color. Last but not least, a sublimation printer uses no water and therefore requires very little energy resources.
Factors To Consider While Buying a Sublimation Printer
Choosing a sublimation printer for beginners can be challenging. Firstly, we have the Epson EcoTank printers that can be converted to sublimation. Secondly, we have the Sawgrass printers, whose main focus is sublimation.
If you’re in the research phase and are looking to buy the right sublimation printer, there are several factors to consider to ensure you’re making an informed decision.
Even though the speed of a sublimation printer isn’t as fast as a traditional inkjet printer, it’s still at the advantage of producing high-quality sublimation prints. The printing speed is measured in terms of how long it takes to produce a full-color, 8×10-inch print.
It can vary depending on the model and its capabilities. Smaller 44-inch wide printers have a speed of 18 square meters per hour, while others can produce up to 3,000 square meters of prints per hour. The Epson printers, for example, are your solution to fast and efficient dye sublimation printing.
The printing speed depends on the resolution and complexity of the image you’re printing, the type of fabric you’re using, and the printer’s calibration capabilities. However, it mostly depends on your preferences – if you’re trying to produce high-quality prints quickly, then you should definitely invest in a higher-end sublimation printer.
Considering sublimation printers are famous for their ability to produce long-lasting vibrant colors, their sublimation printing quality isn’t even questionable. It’s generally very high due to the unique process of using special sublimation ink and printing paper.
That said, the print quality of a sublimation printer is outstanding. It can be hard to decide which is the best sublimation printer for printing quality, as it depends on the user’s specific needs and preferences.
For example, some users may prefer the Sawgrass sublimation printer because it’s focused primarily on sublimation printing. Others may prefer the Epson printer because of its versatility and ability to print on different materials. Both printers have their own strengths, so it all comes down to comparing the price of different models so that they can fit your budget.
A true sublimation printer uses dye-sublimation ink to produce high-quality and full-color prints. The most common colors for sublimation ink are black, magenta, yellow, and cyan, which can be combined to achieve your desired results.
Sublimation works best on light grays, pastel colors, and whites, so choosing an ink compatible with your substrate is essential. However, the variety of colors for sublimation ink leaves room for creativity so that you can achieve optimal results.
There are a few factors to can consider when choosing the top sublimation printer in terms of colors, such as:
- Ink Set. You should always choose a printer that includes the needed colors for your designs. If you want to print on fabric, choose a printer with CMYK ink, but if you need to print high-quality images, a printer with a larger ink set will do the job.
- Printing Resolution. Aim for a printer with at least a 1200 x 1200 dpi resolution. That way, your prints will result in sharper and more vibrant colors.
- Print size. Depending on the size of the sublimation print you plan to make, you should consider the maximum print size of the printer.
If you want your prints to be consistent and accurate, consider the size and capacity of the paper tray. Choose a printer with a paper tray that can handle the size of paper you need for your projects. That said, the Epson EcoTank printers are known for their super tank systems.
The capacity of the paper tray also matters as many people tend to print on various fabrics. If that’s the case for you, then a sublimation printer that comes with multiple paper trays is a perfect choice.
You’ll often need to manually intervene to print on both sides. If this is a problem, you should know some printers can do this automatically due to their auto-duplexing feature.
While auto-duplexing isn’t crucial for your decision, it can come in handy for businesses looking to produce large quantities of printed T-shirts, mugs, or pillows. However, it’s important to keep in mind that auto-duplexing can slow down the process, so look for a printer with a high-printing speed.
In your search for the best sublimation printer, considering the printer’s printing resolution is of vital importance. It refers to the maximum number of droplets of ink the printer can produce in one square inch of your printed image.
If you’re printing high-quality images and graphics, a printer with a higher DPI would be a better choice. However, you should know that high-resolution printers come at a higher cost, so it’s recommended to balance the cost and resolution.
There are several printers that offer high DPI, but the Sawgrass SG500, with its maximum print resolution of 4,800 x 1,200 DPI, and the Epson SureColor F570 Pro, with a printing resolution of 1,200 x 1,200 DPI, are at the top of the list.
The storage capacity of the printer is a key factor that determines its usefulness because it refers to the amount of data you can store in the printer’s memory. This data includes both image files and settings used during the process.
Sublimation printers typically have a small amount of built-in memory, but some of them also have a built-in SD card slot in case you need to expand the storage capacity.
In order to create sublimation prints, you need to connect the printer to a computer or other device for data transfer. The best sublimation printer would offer a range of connectivity options, Including WiFi, USB, and Ethernet.
However, a USB connectivity option is enough for connecting your printer to your computer without the need for an internet connection.
On the other hand, Ethernet allows you to connect your printer to a local area network and is typically used in office environments. The Epson Workforce printers are considered the best printers for ethernet use.
In the past years, WiFi connectivity has also gained popularity, especially when you cannot connect the printer to a device physically.
Look for Top Brands
Since sublimation has become extremely popular, many brands on the market offer these kinds of printers, making it even more challenging to choose the best sublimation printer for beginners.
Some of the top brands that develop sublimation printers include:
- Epson: As a well-known brand in the printing industry, Epson’s printers are the best for beginners, especially the Epson EcoTank et printer. Not only that, but the Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000 is an affordable sublimation printer that can be found for around 350$.
- Sawgrass: They’re a leading manufacturer of printers and inks and are known because their printers are specifically designed for sublimation. They have a lot of various priced printers, with the Sawgrass SG500 being the cheapest sublimation printer they offer.
- Ricoh. As a famous Japanese manufacturer, Ricoh is famous for its high-quality printers that can be useful among beginners and professionals.
- HP. The company is well-known in the printing industry, but most of their printers require third-party sublimation inks, with the exception of the HP Stitch.
- Canon. While Canon’s printers are high-quality, the only sublimation-specific printer they produce is the Canon SELPHY QX10 Portable Square Photo Printer. However, they offer the Canon print app, which comes in handy when printing photos remotely.
Online Ratings and Reviews
This probably doesn’t come as a surprise, but online ratings and reviews can be a useful source of information when it comes to sublimation printer comparison. Based on people’s previous experiences, you can easily make an informed decision.
You can do your research on websites such as Amazon, Best Buy, and B&H Photo Video and go through tons of user reviews regarding the best sublimation printers. For example, an Epson EcoTank printer has a relatively great rating of around 8.5, which suggests that most users are satisfied with the results.
Not only do these printers produce top-notch products, but they’re also quite inexpensive compared to other printing technologies. If you want to get into the sublimation business, you won’t need to invest heavily in equipment.
With the help of a versatile inkjet printer, you can print on various materials without needing multiple printers. Additionally, using the heat technique eliminates the need for regularly replacing expensive ink cartridges.
Due to its large ink tank, the Epson EcoTank series can provide high-quality volume printing at low costs. The tank can hold enough ink to produce thousands of pages before you refill it.
Conclusion: Is It Worth Getting a Sublimation Printer?
Whether you choose a converted inkjet printer or a printer specifically designed for sublimation, it doesn’t matter as long as it fits your needs. Choosing the best sublimation printers for beginners depends on several factors, such as your budget, printing experience, and desired results.
There are a number of printers worth buying. Still, the Sawgrass and Epson printers, especially the Epson Workforce and the Epson EcoTank et series, most definitely hold first place.
To sum it up, sublimation printing requires understanding the different types of substrates, sublimation print heads, and some technical knowledge. However, the process is easy to learn and is known to produce durable prints and vibrant colors. So, whether you’re a beginner or already experienced in the printing business, a sublimation printer is worth trying out! The products listed above received high remarks from satisfied customers. Add them to your choices when you shop for a sublimation printer.