Can I use sublimation ink for regular printing | Explained

Sublimation ink is unique in that it doesn’t work with regular printing. Here’s why, when heated, the chemical composition of the ink converts from a solid to a gas, fusing with the substrate for a permanent, vibrant finish. Plus, to print with sublimation ink, you need a specialized sublimation printer a normal printer won’t do the trick.

Can You Print Regular Documents With Sublimation Ink?

While the answer to the question is an undeniable “No!”, let’s uncover the mysteries behind it. It turns out that sublimation ink is just too special to be used on regular documents. This is because the ink requires a special buddy called sublimation paper that has a polymer coating to hold it in place. When printing, the sublimation paper is first heated, resulting in a chemical process that transfers the ink onto the intended surface.

Did you know that using sublimation ink on regular paper can be a big no-no? Unlike specially coated paper, regular paper lacks the capacity to retain sublimation ink. This often results in the paper getting moistened and losing stickiness as it absorbs the ink. In the end, you’re left with poor heat transfer and an unusable print. Moral of the story stick to sublimation paper to ensure excellent results.

Difference b/w Sublimation and Regular Printer

Sublimation printing is a special printing process that requires unique chemical conditions. Unlike regular printing, it needs a polymer-coated surface for ink to bind properly. Use this method to print fantastic photos, documents, and creative projects in your daily life.

 Sublimation ink has a unique characteristic. When heated, it becomes a permanent part of the substrate, such as a t-shirt, mug, tumbler, glass, and even metal coated with polymer. This makes it different from other inks that tend to stay on the surface.

Sublimation is unlike your usual printing process, but don’t let that scare you! Despite sounding complex to rookie crafters, it’s actually pretty straightforward. A basic grasp of sublimation terminology is key to avoiding print snafus.

Can you Use Sublimation Ink for Regular Printing?

The question at hand is whether your existing sublimation printer can also print regularly on standard paper. Alright, picture this, you already have a printer loaded with sublimation ink, and you also want to use it to print on regular paper. Plus, you don’t want the hassle of purchasing different printers or ink types for different projects. No sweat, we’ll help you get to the bottom of it.

It is possible to do, but we don’t recommend it, and here’s why:

The Color will be Dull

Sublimation inks can produce lackluster results when printed onto standard or sublimation paper, but don’t give up hope just yet! The real magic happens when the ink is sublimated onto a surface using heat. You’ll see the colors transform into vibrant, eye-catching hues that are sure to impress. While this method may not be ideal if you’re looking to create a printed piece on paper, it’s the perfect process for sublimation projects.

The Cost of the Ink

To get the most out of your sublimation ink, keep in mind that it’s specifically meant for sublimation projects. Attempting to use it for other purposes may result in sub-par outcomes and the need to replace the ink more frequently.

The ink will soak into the Paper and Colors will Bleed

Sublimation paper offers a unique solution to printing needs. Unlike regular paper, it doesn’t soak up ink or cause color bleeding, which can lead to blurred lines. With sublimation paper, ink is easily released with heat, resulting in crisp and vibrant prints.

Changes Your Accounting

Tracking ink usage over time for sublimation projects? Keep an eye out! If you use sublimation ink on non-sublimation creations, it’ll surely throw off your calculations.

Summary – Using Sublimation Ink for Regular Printing

While you technically can print on regular paper using sublimation ink for a one-time project, we wouldn’t recommend it. The results may not be up to your standards, and it could be a costly and impractical approach for regular printing. Keep in mind, if you’re trying to keep track of your printing costs for a sublimation business, using the ink for non-sublimation projects may affect your accounting.

Can you Convert your Sublimation Printer back to a Regular?

Although it is possible, the effects of transitioning may not be immediate. It’s important to note that a transitional period may result in mixed outcomes.

During the transition period, the printer will use both types of ink, which may result in inconsistent colors. Also, it’s not uncommon for printers to guzzle up one or two colors of ink faster than the others, making the shift to standard ink a sluggish process. But hang tight, we’ll get there.


Using syringes or unhooking tubing to siphon out old ink may damage the precision ink delivery system of your printer, leading to a potential need for replacement. Avoid such mishaps and keep your printer running smoothly.


To put it simply, regular printers and sublimation ink just don’t mix. Sublimation ink performs differently from regular ink, so you definitely don’t want to use it on regular paper with a regular printer. If you want to use sublimation ink, you’ll need special sublimation paper and a dedicated sublimation printer. Trust us, this will save you a lot of headaches in the long run.

Check out 6 Best Brother Printer For Sublimation.


Q: Can I use sublimation ink in a normal printer?
A: Inkjet printers with thermal printing heads are incompatible with sublimation printing, and those
produced by Canon, Hewlett Packard (HP), Lexmark, or Dell are unsuitable. However, printers with Micro Piezo printing heads can be effectively used for commercial sublimation printing.

Q: Can you print a sublimation image from a regular printer?
A: EcoTank printers from Epson are well-suited for sublimation ink, unlike regular thermal printing head inkjet printers from Hewlett Packard (HP printers), Dell, and Canon.

Q: Can I use sublimation ink in my HP printer?
A: It’s not feasible to convert regular home or office HP printers to sublimation as they come equipped with thermal printheads. This is why commercial printers designed for sublimation are the best option.

Q: Which printers can use sublimation ink?
A: The most frequently used printers for sublimation printing are inkjet printers that can replace ink with dye-sublimation ink. Among the most popular ones that can be converted are the Epson Ecotank ET-2803, ET-2760, ET-4760, and ET-15000 inkjet printers.

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