On a hunt to find the best sublimation printer for heat transfer? Read on to find out the top picks.
Sublimation printers are one of the best printing methods for transferring clean design onto a fabric or rigid surface. Whether you’re looking for a sublimation printer for your home, studio or your own business, I have added an option for all you needs.
You can use the sublimation printers for mugs, ceramics, clothing and a lot more products. Once you print your design on sublimation paper, you’d need to use heat transfer for transferring it on the sublimation blank.
Things to consider when selecting a sublimation printer for heat transfer
There are always a few key features that you need to keep in mind while selecting the best printer for sublimation
- Print field size – Most sublimation printers or inkjet printers don’t print on the edges, so if the ideal size for your finished apparel is 11″ x 17″, you’d need to get a 12″ x 18″.
- Printing multiple images – If you sell multiple designs simultaneously (say cell phone images) you have to get a sublimation printer that prints multiple images.
- Printing speed – This is something that needs to be considered when you need to create large volume printing.
- Number of ink colors – Sublimation printers creates tons of output colors by mixing a selected number of base ink colors. Most of the printers work on 4 color ink-set, but some use 8-colors for super high resolution.
- Brands – Currently Epson and Sawgrass are the two best brands in sublimation printing industry. Ricoh sublimation printers were also in the list few years ago.
For those who are short on time, here is a quick table featuring best sublimation printers for beginners –
|S.no.||Sublimation Printer||Standalone Feature||Print Time||Warranty|
|1.||Sawgrass Virtuoso SG500||High quality SubliJet UHD sublimation inks||N/A||2 years|
|2.||Sawgrass VJ 628||Fully integrated 25", 8-color desktop sublimation printer||Up to 52 ft2 (4.9 m2) / hour||1 year|
|3.||Epson Workforce 7710||Prints on CDs and DVDs||2.8 ISO ppm (monochrome and color)||1 year|
|4.||Epson Stylus C88+||Works well on different substrates - soft and hard||22 pages per minute||1 year|
|5.||Epson Workforce WF 7210||Excellent quality t-shirt prints||N/A||1 year|
|6.||Epson SureColor F570||Best dye sublimation printer with build in cutter||11.4 s||1 year|
6 of the Best Sublimation Printer for Heat Transfer
Sawgrass Virtuoso SG500 is one of the highest rated, best sublimation printers for heat transfer in the marketplace. SG400 is basically an upgraded version of SG400.
This dye sublimation machine is great for printing a variety of polymers. You can print sublimation t-shirts, coasters, mugs, phone cases and other high margin items. It can effectively print on media up to 8.5″ x 14″ (22 x 36 cm).
There are two advance features that you’d like as a sublimation product designer. One is the Creative Studio Online Designer that goes hand-in-hand with Sawgrass printers and lets you create elegant designs without using Photoshop or any additional software.
Next is the Sawgrass Print Manager which is basically a color management software. It offers complete control over print designs. You can also use the Print Manager for printing from graphics programs like CreativeStudio, Adobe and Corel. There are a lot of other features like multiple color profiles for different substrates, custom color palettes and custom paper sizes.
I’d say there is a bit of a learning curve, but the resources on Sawgrass official site makes it easy to get started.
Talking about the inks, Sawgrass SG500 only works with good quality inks for providing the best print. You can use SubliJet UHD 4-color ink set that works well with both hard and soft substrates – polyester or vinyl. If you want the best sublimation printer for t-shirts, just use it along with ChromaBlast HD or EasySubli ink.
If you are someone who just wants to upgrade SG400, then you ‘d like how swiftly the precursor’s accessories like bypass tray fits with SG500.
|Good for high sublimation prints||Sawgrass inks are pretty expensive|
|Long warranty period and lifetime support|
|Energy efficient and WiFi connectivity|
Sawgrass VJ628 is a turnkey solution packed with everything you need to start creating your heat transfer products. It is the best sublimation printer for heat transfer for high volume business.
VJ 628 is a heavy duty sublimation printer that offer four 8-color ink sets –
- Dual CMYK – Perfect prints or interior signage, textiles, personalized gifts and promotional products.
- Flex – This is good for sharp images. And comes with exceptional CMYK output, plus orange and orange and blue and fluorescent pink and yellow cartridges for true fluorescent colors.
- Pro Photo – Best for fine art products or professional photography. It offers enhanced skin tones, rich blacks and smooth gradients.
- Pro Photo XF – Tons of colors, best for ChromaLuxe panels, professional photos and fine art prints.
With an 8-color ink set, this printer creates high density, vibrant designs and reduces graininess. The dual CMYK offers 5,48,000 colors in a clean format making it perfect for all kinds of products. Whether you want to print multiple mugs, or some over-sized sublimation products, Sawgrass VJ628 got it all covered.
This sublimation printer uses, SubliJet-HD, a technology that allows you to print on multiple sublimation blanks (everything from polyester fabrics to polymer coated hard substrates) including metal, ceramic, glass, FRP plastic, poly-performance fabrics, hardboard and more.
Being backed with PowerDriver makes it easy to optimize color settings for photographs, vector graphics or spot colors.
On the downside, it’s a classic model so you can only connect it with ethernet and not the USB. Also, it doesn’t work with some of the Apple computers with the M1 ARM processor. Sawgrass Print Manager makes it easy to proceed the prints.
|Intelligent Interweave Technology that reduces banding to almost zero||Not compatible with some of the Apple computers|
|Long warranty period and lifetime support|
|Good for Large volume sublimation prints|
Epson Workforce 7710 is the best sublimation printer for heat press. Talking more precisely, it is more of an inkjet printer that can be converted to dye sublimation printer. The reason it is considered the best sublimation printer is the compatibility for a wide variety of sublimation inks and the price of this printing machine. You’d have to buy a sublimation conversion kit for your printer.
Just like most of the Epson printers, this model offers built in PrecisionCore technology that lets you perform borderless printing for up to 13 X 19 inches. For those who don’t know, borderless printing is a useful technique for printing large graphics without white margin at the sides of the print.
This Epson printer comes with a 250-sheet paper tray that can hold up to 20 sheets of photo paper or 10 envelopes. This printer comes with 4x DURABrite Ultra Ink cartridges (Black, Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow) and goes along with a wide variety of sublimation inks. Some of my favorite for CISS or refillable cartridges Epson printers are –
- Ink Owl
- AOPANE Anti-UV
You can also use it for scanning (11” x 17”) and the wireless connectivity allows the user to print from mobile phones as well.
Overall, Epson 7710 offers vibrant printing (especially due to the multiple conversion kits available for Epson printers) and transfers clean graphics on heat press.
|Easy to install software||Only one paper cassette|
|Ink cartridges make this a very economical printer.|
|Known for excellent sublimation prints|
Another good option for the best sublimation printer for heat transfer is Epson Stylus C88+.
Unlike many of the printers, this model works with both the pigment as well as sublimation inks, making it a good fit for those who use multiple heat transfer method (of course you’d have to use sublimation paper or heat transfer paper based on your needs).
C88+ is good for frame ready prints (borderless), mugs, t-shirts and other sublimation products. You’d like the sharpness of this sublimation printer.
The ink cartridges for Epson are usually cheaper than Sawgrass. There are a lot of ink options in addition to DuraBrite.
Overall, it’s an amazing sublimation printer for heat transfer, provided that you use the right ink-set. It can be used for 8.50″ x 44″ (maximum) print.
|Vibrant and good quality sublimation prints||It is a bit noisy|
|For both home and office use|
|Works well with multiple substrates|
Another option on my list of best sublimation printers for heat press is Epson Workforce WF 7210 – one of the best selling and most recommended sublimation printers.
Just like most of the Epson products, you’d have to use the sublimation conversion kit for starting to use it. You can print up to 13 x 19 inches in little to no time. Another thing that makes it good for sublimation businesses is the design optimization done by the manufacturers. It offers features like 500 sheet capacity, 80% energy saving (for less printing cost) and more.
|Two printer trays||Requires Epson ink for high quality prints|
|Great for t-shirt printing|
|Wi-Fi Direct and ethernet connectivity|
Epson SureColor F570 is one of the few sublimation printers that doesn’t require a conversion kit.
It is good for photo gifts, mugs, tumblers, signs, clothing and more. The high performance printer was launched a while ago and gained popularity since then.
Backed by PrecisionCore technology makes it easy to print faster without affecting the quality. It comes with two full sets of CMYK inks that can print 24″ x 100″ roll and 17″ x 100″
Another feature that boasts its efficiency are the built-in cutter and high capacity ink bottles. Overall its good for those who want a desktop sublimation printer and have enough production volume to spend $2000+
Note – There’s a lot of backorders on this Epson printer and thus you’d have to wait a month or more for getting this printer.
|50 sheet auto feed tray and build in cutter||Not available on most of the retail sites|
|Drivers for both windows and Mac|
Other printers that I removed from my list and why –
- Canon Selphy CP1300 – Many print sites recommend it as a sublimation printer, whereas originally it is a photo printer that you cannot use for sublimation.
- Epson Artisan 1430 – I really like this sublimation printer for heat transfer businesses but unfortunately it is discontinued for now.
- EPSON SureColor F170 – This is a great compact sublimation printer released in November 2020, but due to back orders it is nearly impossible to get this sublimation-specific heat press printer costing $400 only.
What to do after selecting the sublimation printer for heat press
Finding the right printer is important especially when you are into sublimation business. There are a lot of brands but the brands I recommend are Epson and Sawgrass. Ricoh sublimation printers are also a choice, but most of their old models are no longer available.
That said, Epson WF models are the ones I’d recommend to most of the sublimation business owners. It offers both budget-friendliness and high quality prints.
Another important thing for higher margin is sublimation blanks wholesale products. You can find good quality and cheap substrates that will give you more room for profit.
Also, choosing the right ink-set for your sublimation heat transfer business is something that you should be careful about; cheap inks could affect your print quality.