Can you use a sublimation printer for regular printing?

Sublimation printing is a process of transferring dye onto materials using heat and pressure, resulting in high-quality, durable prints that won’t fade or peel. It’s commonly used in the production of custom clothing, accessories, and promotional items. However, many people wonder if they can use a sublimation printer for regular printing tasks, such as documents and photos.

Sublimation printers work by using special sublimation inks that turn into a gas when heated. The gas then permeates the surface of the substrate and solidifies, creating a permanent image. These printers also require specific sublimation paper or substrates with a special coating to achieve the desired results.

For regular printing tasks such as printing documents, photos, or standard graphics on plain paper, you would typically use an inkjet or laser printer. These printers use different types of ink or toner and are optimized for regular printing purposes. They are more versatile and suitable for a wide range of printing applications beyond sublimation.

Regular Printer

First of all, let’s define what we mean by “regular printing.” This typically involves printing documents, photos, or graphics onto paper or other flat materials using an inkjet or laser printer. Unlike sublimation printing, regular printing doesn’t require special inks or transfer papers, and it can be done with most standard printers.

Can I use a sublimation printer for regular printing?

So, can you use a sublimation printer for regular printing? The short answer is yes, but it’s not recommended. Sublimation printers use a different type of ink than regular printers, which is specifically designed to bond with polyester and other synthetic materials. This means that the ink may not adhere well to paper or other materials commonly used in regular printing, resulting in poor-quality prints.

The color will be dull

Furthermore, sublimation printers typically have a higher resolution and color accuracy than regular printers, which makes them better suited for highly detailed or color-rich designs. However, this also means that they may not perform as well when printing simple text or black-and-white graphics. So, while it is technically possible to use a sublimation printer for regular printing, it may not produce the best results.

The cost of the printer

It’s worth noting that sublimation printers are also typically more expensive than regular printers, both in terms of upfront costs and ongoing ink and paper expenses. If you only need to print documents or photos occasionally, a regular printer might be a more cost-effective and practical choice. However, if you do a lot of sublimation printing and occasionally need to print regular documents or photos, you might consider investing in both types of printers to get the best of both worlds.

The ink will soak into the Paper and the Colors will Bleed

Sublimation paper is a special type of paper that allows ink from a printer to not be absorbed into fibers but easily released with heat. The ordinary paper has poor results as ink is absorbed into fibers causing lines that are not crisp and colors that tend to bleed at boundaries.

Changes your Accounting

Keeping track of ink usage for sublimation projects is important. Using sublimation ink for non-sublimation projects will affect your calculations.


In conclusion, while it is possible to use a sublimation printer for regular printing tasks, it’s not recommended. Sublimation printers are designed for a specific type of printing that involves heat and pressure, and they may not perform as well when printing onto paper or other materials.

If you need to perform regular printing tasks, it’s best to use a standard inkjet or laser printer designed for that purpose. However, if you do a lot of sublimation printing, it might be worth investing in both types of printers so that you can get the best results for all your printing needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can you print on normal paper with a sublimation printer?

A: The use of sublimation ink is not recommended for a regular paper due to its inability to carry the ink efficiently. As a result, the printed output may not look satisfactory.

Q: Can you convert a sublimation printer back to normal?

A: When transitioning from using an Epson Ecotank sublimation printer back to standard ink, specialized cleaners will be necessary to remove the residual sublimation inks from the printer.

Q: Is sublimation ink better than regular ink?

A: Dye sublimation ink has several benefits over other inks. It lasts longer because the dye becomes part of the imprinted product. This allows for greater print accuracy and performance, resulting in stunning finished products. Furthermore, with dye sublimation, the imprints will never crack, peel off or wash off over time.

Q: Can I use my Epson printer for sublimation and regular printing?

A: The Epson WorkForce and EcoTank printers can be converted into sublimation printers. Simply replace the inkjet ink with sublimation ink. However, it is important to note that the warranty for these printers will be voided when converted.

Q: Can you print on normal paper with a sublimation printer?

A: While it is possible to print on regular paper, it may not result in high-quality output due to the paper’s inability to hold ink effectively during the printing process.

Q: Is sublimation ink expensive?

A: The cost of each color bottle for Epson’s sublimation ink is approximately $24, with the option of buying individual colors, which can be beneficial if you tend to utilize one color more frequently (typically black). Meanwhile, Sawgrass printers and ink come at a higher price starting from $500 and beyond.

Q: Is the sublimation paper permanent?

A: When subjected to heat, the inks used undergo a transformation from liquid to gas, after which they combine with the fabric to create a permanent print. This technique embeds the ink in the fabric substrate, resulting in a print that is much less prone to fading.

Q: What Happens If You Install a Sublimation Printing System in A Regular Printer?

A: To successfully implement sublimation printing, it’s crucial to understand the compatibility of printers. Sublimation printing can only be installed on specific printers. It should be noted that trying to convert a regular printer into sublimation could void the product warranty. Moreover, if a printer is not compatible with sublimation ink, installing refilling cartridges could result in bleeding ink on the paper, leading to a mess.

Epson printers offer a CISS ink system in which cartridges and ink tanks can be easily refilled with sublimation ink. However, the process might be challenging for some of the WF line printers due to the requirement of changing cartridges. It is recommended to visit the brand website to determine if a regular Epson printer has the CISS ink system and piezo printhead, ensuring successful sublimation printing.

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