Do I Need a Special Printer for Sublimation | Explained

Sublimation printing is a popular and cost-effective printing technology used in a variety of industries such as fashion, advertising, home décor, and more. This printing technique involves the transfer of designs onto specially coated substrates such as ceramics, textiles, and metals, using heat and pressure.

While sublimation printing offers numerous benefits like high-quality image reproduction, long-lasting prints, and durability, one question that is frequently asked is “Do I need a special printer for sublimation?” In this blog post, we will dive into the pros and cons of using a specialized sublimation printer and give you some recommendations to help you make an informed decision.

Sublimation printing requires a printer that can accommodate sublimation ink, which is different from regular ink. Sublimation ink turns into a gas when heated, which bonds the dye molecules to the substrate surface. Therefore, a sublimation printer must have a printhead with microfine nozzles designed to deposit tiny ink droplets on the substrate through the heat transfer process. Using the wrong printer may result in poor print quality and ink clogging, which can be costly in terms of time and money.

Types of sublimation printers: 

These are two types of sublimation printers that are commonly used.

Desktop sublimation printers

Desktop sublimation printers are designed for small-scale printing and are often used by home-based business owners, hobbyists, and entrepreneurs. 

Large-format sublimation printers

Large-format sublimation printers, on the other hand, are designed for high-volume printing and are used by commercial printing businesses, textile manufacturers, and digital print shops. 

Both types of printers require specialized sublimation paper, a heat press, and sublimation ink, which are readily available in the market.

Things to remember before buying a printer for sublimation

When choosing a sublimation printer, it is essential to consider below mentioned things: 

1. Print Quality: 

When it comes to sublimation printing, print quality is the most crucial factor you need to consider. The printer’s print resolution determines the quality of the print. The higher the print resolution, the more detailed and sharper the print is. Therefore, it is essential to choose a sublimation printer with a high print resolution to achieve vibrant and high-quality prints.

2. Size of the Sublimation Printer: 

The size of the sublimation printer is another important factor to consider. The size of the printer should be in line with the size of your work. If you are looking to print large-sized items such as blankets, then you should opt for a more extensive printer. However, if you are looking to print smaller items such as key chains, then a small printer would be sufficient.

3. Ink Consumption: 

The ink consumption of the sublimation printer is also an important factor to think about. The amount of ink consumed by the printer would depend on the size of the printer and the number of prints made. It is essential to invest in a printer that would provide a cost-effective solution, in terms of ink usage, ensuring that the operating expenses are kept under check.

4. Ease of Use: 

While sublimation printing is a technology that delivers quality prints, it can be a complex process if you do not know how to use it. Therefore, it is essential to invest in a printer that is user-friendly, with easy-to-use instructions and a straightforward setup process. This would ensure that you can easily set up the printer and start printing immediately.

5. Maintenance and Service: 

A sublimation printer that is durable is an essential requirement for brands looking to use this technology. Therefore, it is important to invest in a quality printer that is serviced by a reputable company. The service and maintenance should be easily accessible, with prompt response times. This would ensure that your printer remains operational, with minimal downtime.

6. Compatibility:

Compatibility of the printer with the sublimation ink and substrate you plan to use. It is also important to choose a printer that can produce high-quality prints that meet your specific needs. Factors like print speed, resolution, and color gamut are critical to achieving the desired results.

7. Cost:

Another consideration when choosing a sublimation printer is cost. Specialized sublimation printers can be expensive, especially if you opt for a large format option. However, the cost will depend on your budget, printing needs, and your business goals. 


In conclusion, sublimation printing is a highly effective printing method that offers numerous advantages. Using a specialized sublimation printer is essential to achieving high-quality prints that meet your specific requirements. While the cost of a sublimation printer can be high, you can choose a printer that fits your needs and budget. Be sure to research and compare different models and brands before making your final decision. With the right sublimation printer, you can achieve stunning, long-lasting prints that meet your client’s needs and exceed your expectations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Can I use a regular printer for sublimation?

No, Sublimation printing is dependent on a particular heat-activated ink, hence requiring a designated printer. Nonetheless, there’s a silver lining – Epson EchoTank printers could be converted into excellent sublimation printers! A word of caution, though – if you install regular ink in them, you’ll lose your chance for sublimation.

Q. Can you use a regular Epson printer for sublimation?

Certainly, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to know that you can easily turn your regular Epson printer into a powerful sublimation printer. Get ready to bring your ideas to life with the WorkForce and EcoTank series, which can be converted by simply adding sublimation ink. Do remember, though, that the process voids the printer’s warranty.

Q. Can I use my Canon printer for sublimation?

Yes, Canon printers are perfect for sublimation printing, which transfers dye onto a wide range of materials such as fabrics, ceramics, metal, and even wood using heat.

Q. Do sublimation printers need special ink?

To make those vibrant dye-sublimated designs, you’ll need important components: specific ink and disperse dyes. They can transition from a solid state to a gaseous form in high temperatures and form an easy bond with polyester fabrics, producing some seriously stylish end results.

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