You might have seen many printers featuring “uses sublimation technology” or “can be used for heat transfer.” We know that it can confuse that. Can you use any printer for sublimation? The short answer is no, you cannot use just any printer for sublimation.
While it is possible to use certain types of printers for sublimation, there are some limitations. let’s explore the different types of printers that can be used for sublimation and explain why some printers are better suited for this type of work than others.
Printers can be used for Sublimation or not, depending on their technology. Printers use thermal (heat) technology or Piezo (pressure) technology. In short, thermal printers cannot work with sublimation ink, but Piezo printers can work for Sublimation.
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Can you use any printer for Sublimation?
So, you must be thinking, “what printer can I use for Sublimation? The simple answer is the dye-sublimation ink.
The main factor of Sublimation is the dye-sublimation ink that contains heat-activated pigments. When these pigments are heat pressed, they turn from solid to gas and bind to the poly-coated or polyester item like a t-shirt, mug, or tumbler.
There are specific printers for the Sublimation, but you can also use regular printers for this cause. In this article, we will explain different types of different printers and will analyze whether they can be used for Sublimation or not.
Printers to use for Sublimation
As we know that those printers are capable of Sublimation that contain Piezo technology. You can find those printers online or in big retail stores like Walmart. But if you want the cheapest printer for Sublimation, you should consider the Epson site clearance section, where you can find refurbished printers at lower prices.
Let’s get to know which printers you can use for Sublimation
HP Printer for Sublimation
You cannot use a home or office HP printer for the sublimation process because mostly HP printers disperse heat on paper through a thermal process. This means that almost all HP printers are not capable of Sublimation because you cannot use sublimation ink in regular printers as the ink will bake onto the paper or gas out the cartridges during the printing process.
The question arises here if you cannot use a regular HP printer for Sublimation, are there any HP sublimation printers?
Yes, HP does have a line of printers that support Sublimation and UV ink. You can directly print on sublimation paper and the fabric using these special printers. These printers are enormous and expensive and are made for the industry.
These HP printers are costly and are not for those who do Sublimation as a hobby. An entry-level sublimation printer would cost you around $7,000 without ink. You will have to buy sublimation ink for the HP printer separately.
Brother Printer for Sublimation
Most Brother Printers use Piezo technology for printing, which means you can use those printers for Sublimation. But the bad news is that no one is making sublimation ink for brother printers, resulting in lousy print quality.
When you do Sublimation, you need clear and sharp images, but in brother printers, you don’t get vivid images because you cannot set up an ink profile. That is why brother printers are not ideal for Sublimation until you’d Sublimation as a hobby.
But if you use it as a hobby, you will still get annoyed soon because of its lousy image results. The bottom line is that you can use brother printers for Sublimation with below-average results.
Canon Printers for Sublimation
Canon printers use thermal printing technology, and that is the reason they can’t be used for Sublimation. Neither they can be converted to a sublimation printer.
But Does Canon has a sublimation printer? Canon has dye-sublimation printers, but they are not sublimation printers. The Canon dye sublimation Selphy printers use sublimation ink and have a built in heater that sublimates the photos on transparent film. You cannot insert the paper and print out sublimation prints.
Thus, we can conclude that Canon printers cannot be used for Sublimation.
Epson Printers for Sublimation
Epson printers can be used for Sublimation because all Epson printers use Piezo print technology; that is why these printers are capable of Sublimation.
Epson also does have a line of actual sublimation printers, and they have an incredible quality and a warranty for sublimation purposes.
As these sublimation printers are pretty expensive, that is why many people end up using regular home and office Epson printers for Sublimation. Although Epson has a separate line for sublimation printers and they do not sell regular printers as sublimation printers. However, you can still use regular printers for Sublimation by using sublimation ink.
By using a regular Epson printer for Sublimation, you won’t get any warranty. However, still, it is reasonable as compared to an actual sublimation printer, and you accept some risks associated with a regular printer. You can watch tutorials on YouTube and Facebook groups if anything goes wrong.
The good news is that you can also use refurbished Epson printers for Sublimation and convert them into sublimation printers. It is safe to say that Epson is the best printer for Sublimation.
Can you use a regular HP printer for Sublimation?
No, you cannot use a regular HP printer for Sublimation because HP doesn’t support Piezo printing technology which is essential for Sublimation. But HP has a unique line of printers for Sublimation, called the HP STITCH series.
Can you use the same printer for Sublimation and regular printing?
The answer to this question is, unfortunately, no. While you may be able to use the same printer for both sublimation and regular printing, it is not recommended. The reason for this is that sublimation inks are very different from regular inks, and using the wrong type of ink in your printer can damage the printer.
How much does a sublimation printer cost?
You can use dye printers for home and professional use both, so they cost around $300 and go up to $600. And the large industrial printers can cost up to $10,000.
Most home printers cannot be used as sublimation printers. As a printer should have Piezo printing technology to work as a sublimation printer.
So the question is can you use any printer for Sublimation? The simple answer is no.
We have read in the above article that we cannot use HP and Canon regular printers as sublimation printers because they do not use Piezo print technology which makes them incapable of Sublimation.
On the other hand, we have learned that we can use Brother Printer for Sublimation, but results are not that good, but the Epson printers are fantastic for doing Sublimation.
Regardless of which printer you choose, you must buy sublimation ink as none of the above printers come with sublimation ink.
Fredrik Miller is the Founder of PrinterLake.com, a platform dedicated to providing information on sublimation printing. With a Master’s degree in Information Technology from Reputed University, Fredrik brings a wealth of technical knowledge and expertise to the site.
He leads a team of writers who are experts in the field and strive to deliver the best and most comprehensive information on sublimation printers, inks, and paper.