How to use an Epson sublimation printer | Explained

When it comes to creating high-quality prints on textiles, sublimation printing is the way to go. This process involves a specialized printer that uses heat to transfer dye onto various surfaces. If you’re looking to get into sublimation printing, the Epson sublimation printer is an excellent choice. In this blog post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about using an Epson sublimation printer, from setup and maintenance to troubleshooting common problems. Let’s dive in.

Before you get started, you’ll need to select the right Epson sublimation printer for your needs. The Epson SureColor P800 is a popular choice thanks to its high-quality output and wide color gamut. Once you’ve chosen your printer, it’s time to get it set up. Make sure you have all the necessary components, including sublimation ink and transfer paper. Follow the included instructions to install the ink cartridges and paper tray, and connect the printer to your computer.

To use an Epson sublimation printer, follow these general steps

Set up the Printer:

  • Unbox the printer and remove all packaging materials.
  • Connect the printer to a power source and turn it on.
  • Install the printer drivers and software on your computer by following the instructions provided by the printer.

Prepare the Sublimation System:

  • Epson sublimation printers typically use special sublimation ink cartridges or continuous ink supply systems (CISS). Ensure that you have the appropriate sublimation ink and cartridges/CISS installed in the printer.
  • Make sure you have sublimation transfer paper, which is specially coated to work with sublimation inks.

Design or Select Your Image:

  • Use graphic design software like Adobe Photoshop, CorelDRAW, or GIMP to create or edit your design. Alternatively, you can choose an image from your collection.
  • Ensure that your design is sized correctly for the item you plan to print on, such as a t-shirt or mug.

Print Your Design:

  • Open the image file in the printing software that came with your Epson printer.
  • Set the print settings, such as paper type and print quality, according to the instructions provided with the printer and sublimation transfer paper.
  • Load the sublimation transfer paper into the printer’s paper tray or feed slot, making sure it is properly aligned.
  • Start the printing process.

Heat Press Transfer:

  • Preheat your heat press machine to the appropriate temperature for the sublimation process, usually around 375-400°F (190-205°C).
  • Place the printed sublimation transfer paper with the design facing down onto the item you want to print.
  • Close the heat press and apply pressure according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, typically around 40-60 seconds.
  • After the transfer time has elapsed, open the heat press, remove the sublimation transfer paper, and let the item cool.

Printing tips and tricks:

Once your Epson sublimation printer is set up, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting the best possible prints. Here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind:

Use high-quality images: The quality of your printed design will only be as good as the resolution of your source file. Make sure you’re starting with a high-resolution image for best results.

Choose the right paper: Not all transfer papers are created equal. Look for a paper that’s designed specifically for sublimation printing.

Adjust your settings: Depending on the specifics of your design and materials, you may need to adjust your settings for optimal results. Take some time to experiment with different options until you find what works best for you.

Keep your printer clean: Regularly cleaning your printer can help prevent clogs and other issues that can affect print quality. Consult your printer’s manual for specific instructions.

Troubleshooting common issues

Despite your best efforts, you may still run into some issues when using your Epson sublimation printer. Here are a few common problems and how to address them:

Blurry or pixelated images: Make sure your source file has a high enough resolution, and double-check your settings to ensure they’re optimized for your specific design.

Clogs in the printhead: If you notice streaks or other inconsistencies in your prints, you may have a clog in your printhead. Consult your printer’s manual for instructions on how to clean or unclog the printhead.

Paper jams: Paper jams can be frustrating, but they’re generally easy to fix. Follow your printer’s manual for instructions on how to clear a paper jam.

Maintenance and upkeep

Proper maintenance and upkeep are essential to ensuring the longevity of your Epson sublimation printer. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Regularly replace ink cartridges: Make sure you’re replacing your ink cartridges regularly to ensure consistent print quality. Consult your printer’s manual for guidance on how often to replace them.

Keep your printer clean: As mentioned above, regular cleaning can help prevent clogs and other issues.

Store your printer properly: When not in use, store your printer in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.


Sublimation printing can be a fantastic way to create high-quality, durable prints on textiles and other materials. By following the tips and tricks outlined in this blog post, you can ensure that your Epson sublimation printer is set up correctly, producing excellent prints, and well-maintained for years to come. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the purpose of a sublimation printer?

A: A sublimation printer transfers artwork to an object in a gas state via a high-temperature heat press.

Q: How long does Epson sublimation ink last?

A: It is commonly believed that printing with cartridges past the “use-by” date is harmless. However, it is advisable to use the cartridges within six months of the initial installation and refrain from printing past the six-month mark.

Q: What are the disadvantages of a sublimation printer?

A: Sublimation items are restricted to white or light-colored print areas. Black or dark-colored surfaces are not applicable. Items exposed to direct sunlight can lose color over time due to UV rays. As with all inkjet printers, the printheads may clog if not used frequently.

Q: Is the sublimation paper permanent?

A: The inks used in the printing process turn into gas when exposed to heat. This allows them to combine with the fabric permanently, resulting in a long-lasting print that is less prone to fading. Unlike normal prints, which only lay on the surface of the fabric, these inks become embedded in the fabric or substrate for a permanent effect.

Q: What is better than sublimation?

A: Direct-to-garment (DTG) printing is a better option for printing on black or dark colors due to its range of color possibilities. Sublimation, on the other hand, may not be ideal for printing white as it may have some color limitations. If your image contains white, it would be recommended to consider DTG or DTF printing.

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