So you want to heat press a photo onto a mug. Or maybe you want to add a design to your favorite shirt. Heat pressing is an excellent way to customize what you already own, but you can't forget any of the steps involved. That's why you need the best sublimation printer.
Of course, you also need a good heat press machine and the right materials to use in your project. But you can't forget what might be the most essential part. Without an image or design, you don't have anything to work with.
So, what is the best sublimation printer?
You can't heat press an image onto a shirt or mug without having an image to begin with. There are many types of printers available, but you should use the best sublimation printer.
Other printers can work okay, but sublimation printers have specific qualities that are necessary for your next heat transfer project.
A sublimation printer is a perfect tool for anyone who uses heat to apply designs to a variety of items.
What is a sublimation printer?
In theory, you can use any type of printer to print out an image or design to heat press. However, that's not the case in practice.
Typical home printers can't produce the quality or durability that you want in a heat press design.
The best sublimation printer can print an image onto almost anything you need it to. Sublimation printers transfer the ink (or dye) directly to your chosen medium.
Other printers, like inkjet printers, are versatile and can fulfill a lot of printing needs. They're an excellent alternative to even the best sublimation printer.
When looking for the best sublimation printer, you want one that can handle printing a lot of ink. That's because many images and designs are more than a few lines of text. So, you want to avoid laser printers and other printers that aren't capable of printing photos and the like.
What ink do you need?
There are a few different types of ink you can use with a sublimation printer. The first type of ink is a dye-based ink. You can also use pigment-based inks.
However, the best type of ink for a sublimation printer is a sublimation ink. These inks are usually pretty bright, and they work well on fabrics.
What does a sublimation printer do?
While not as versatile as other printers, a sublimation printer is the perfect tool for printing images to use with a heat press. Sublimation printers use a lot of ink, and that ink can transfer to ceramics and fabrics more easily than other printers.
Basically, if you want to create long-lasting heat press designs, you need the best sublimation printer.
How does it work?
The best sublimation printer can create high-quality images in print. These printers use a combination of heat and ink to produce an image. You can print on a variety of materials from paper to plastic.
Unfortunately, it doesn't work well with cotton though there are ways around that.
How is it different from other printers?
The best sublimation printer is unlike other printers. Your typical household printer doesn't work with the color and pigmentation of sublimation inks. If you want to use sublimation ink, you need a sublimation printer.
Printer and ink compatibility can be an issue. So before buying a printer or ink, make sure everything will work together.
Why do you need a sublimation printer?
You can use a couple of different printers for heat transfers. Inkjet printers are common, and they can be a smart choice for your first couple of projects.
However, the best sublimation printer can handle much more than that. The combination of heat and ink works with a greater variety of materials than an inkjet printer.
Where can you buy the best sublimation printer?
You can find sublimation printers in craft stores and online. Online retailers like Amazon have a few options, but the selection is bigger at specialty craft stores and craft websites.
How much does it cost?
The best sublimation printer isn't always cheap. We found sublimation printers for as low as $ to $$. However, some printers cost around $$ to $$$.
So be sure you have a budget in mind before you start shopping for the best sublimation printer. It can be all too easy to get caught up in a printer's price.
The Perfect Printer
Finding the best sublimation printer was no easy feat. We searched the internet to find sublimation printers that work well and have excellent reviews.
There are tons of sublimation printers available, but not all of them have great reviews. We also wanted to find models that you can buy right now. Some of the best sublimation printers aren't as readily available as we hoped.
To start our search, we began with expert recommendations.
Once we found a few options, we looked at customer ratings, price, and features. Versatility and compatibility were also important in making our final decision on the best sublimation printer.
The Best Sublimation Printer
We found some options that we think could be the best sublimation printer. Of course, the best sublimation printer for you will depend on your specific needs and budget.
However, these printers offer some of the best features you can get.
Epson Stylus C88+
- Brand Epson , Model C11C617121
- Product Type: Inkjet Printer, Recommended Use: Plain Paper Print, Print Color Capability: Color, Maximum Mono Print Speed (ppm): 23, Maximum Color Print Speed (ppm): 14, Maximum Print Resolution: 5760 x 1440 dpi, Color Cartridge Type: Individual Color Cartridge,
- Number of Colors: 4, Parallel Port: Yes, USB: Yes, USB Standard: USB 2.0, Media Types & Handling, Borderless Printing: Yes, Media Type: Plain Paper, Media Type: Bond Paper, Media Type: Card Stock, Media Type: Air Mail Paper, Media Type: Semi-gloss Paper, Media Type: Matte Paper, Media Type: Envelope, Media Type: Bright White Paper, Media Type: Presentation Paper, Media Type: Photo Paper, Media Type: Label, Media Type: Glossy Paper,
- Media Handling: 1 x Input Tray 120 Sheet, Number of Input/Multipurpose Trays Installed: 1, Number of Input Trays Supported: 1, Standard Input Media Capacity: 120 sheets, Maximum Input Media Capacity: 120 sheets, Operating System Supported: Windows: Windows USB / Parallel, Windows 98se, Me, 2000 or XP; Mac: Macintosh USB - Macintosh OS X 10.2 or later; Intel Core Duo 10.4.x,
- Power Source: AC Supply, Input Voltage: 120 V AC, Maximum Power Consumption: 19 W, Off-Mode Power Consumption: 800 mW, Standby Power Consumption: 2.50 W, Form Factor: Desktop, Color: Silver, Color: Dark Gray,
The Epson Stylus C88+ printer is actually an inkjet printer. However, you can use it for basic sublimation projects. This printer works with a variety of paper sizes from legal to half-letter.
It offers excellent print quality, and you can use it with DURABrite Ultra pigment ink. The finished product is durable, so you don't have to worry about your design wearing off soon after application.
Of course, it works with traditional ink, but you can also use sublimation ink. You can use sublimation paper, and you can then apply your design to fabric and other heat press projects.
Once you make the switch to sublimation ink, you should avoid switching between that and regular ink. Another downfall to this printer is that it's not wireless. You have to connect it directly to a computer in order to use it.
While it's not explicitly designed as a sublimation printer, it works well with sublimation ink. And it's a great first sublimation printer.
The Epson Stylus C88+ printer costs $120 to $150. On Amazon, customers give the printer an average rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars.
- Epson strongly recommends the use of Genuine Epson inks for a quality printing experience. Non Epson inks and inks not formulated for your specific printer may cause damage that is not covered by the Epson warranty.
- Get performance beyond laser — the workforce WF-7710, powered by Precision Core
- Print-shop quality — borderless prints upto 13" X 19"
- Economical — uses upto 80 percent less power vs. Color laser printers)
- Versatile paper handling — 250-sheet tray, plus a rear feed for specialty paper; 125-sheet output tray. Sound level: Power 6.2 B(A), Pressure 48 dB(A)
Another inkjet printer with sublimation capabilities is the Workforce WF-7710. It can create print shop-quality prints at home, and the prints can be up to 13 by 19 inches.
You can print on regular paper as well as specialty paper. The printer is also a scanner and a copier. So if you want to use the same design over and over, this is the printer for you.
The printer has wireless compatibility, and you can load it with sublimation ink. It supports vinyl, cardstock, and more. And you can print straight from a Cricut machine.
While the printer works with sublimation ink, you do have to convert it to a sublimation printer. Converting isn't too difficult, and you can even find tutorials online.
Luckily, the printer doesn't require a specific brand of sublimation ink.
You can buy the Workforce WF-7710 for $160 to $200. The average customer rating is 3.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon. However, it's a popular choice among experts. Also, plenty of customers praised the ability to use sublimation ink with the printer.
Sawgrass Virtuoso Sublimation Printer
- The only desktop inkjet printers built specifically for digital decorating.
- Creative Studio Software - No desktop graphics software or clip art to buy – Savings up to $3,000.
- Up to 1200 x 1200 dpi for dazzling HD photo-quality reproduction.
- Includes 1-year warranty.
- Authorized Sawgrass Dealer - 100% Satisfaction Guarantee - Over 50 Years In Business!
The Sawgrass Virtuoso Sublimation Printer is the first on our list meant specifically for sublimation printing. It can print high-quality images up to 1200 by 1200 dpi.
This printer doesn't require any special software so you can print images or designs from your computer program of choice. The printer uses SubliJet ink, and it's the first fully integrated desktop system for sublimation. SubliJet ink has a higher ink yield, and it has a 26 percent larger color gamut compared to other sublimation inks.
That ink results in bright images with excellent color accuracy.
You can create designs on your computer or tablet and print them, or you can choose from a huge library of images and graphics. If you want the best color, you should print through the Creative Studio program.
And if you own multiple Virtuoso printers, you can connect them so that they use the same settings.
The Sawgrass Virtuoso sublimation printer costs $620 to $680. Amazon customers give the printer an average rating of 5.0 out of 5 stars.
Canon SELPHY CP1300
- Not only will your photos be instantly dry, but they will also look great for up to 100 years4 and are even water resistant
- Enjoy the simplicity of connecting your smartphone and tablet with ease, through the Canon PRINT app3. You can even print directly from USB, or your camera's memory card2
- The sleek, portable design lets you bring the SELPHY CP1300 with you and with the optional battery back you can print and share your memories wherever you are
- With the tilting 3.2 inches LCD screen it's easy to choose, edit and print your favorite photos. Output tray capacity: paper tray: 18 Sheets with postcard size paper cassette. Operating Temperature is 5 – 40 degree Celsius
- Print Resolution (Up to) Color256 Levels Per Color (16.8 Million Colors). Paper Sizes Postcard (4.0 x 6.0 inches), L Size (3.5 x 4.7 inches), Card Size (2.1 x 3.4 inches), Square Label (2.1 x 2.1 inches).Requires "Canon Print Plug in" available for free from the Amazon Appstore and an Amazon Fire Phone, Amazon Kindle Fire HD6 or HDX7 device or later running Fire OS 4.0 or later
If you want a more compact sublimation printer, the Canon SELPHY CP1300 could be for you. This printer isn't specifically a sublimation printer, but it does use a dye sublimation process.
However, you have to use other Canon supplies, like paper and ink, for that process to work well.
The printer can print photos with ink that dries instantly. You can print photos up to 4 inches by 6 inches, and you can use the LCD screen to choose and edit the photos you want to print.
Unfortunately, you need to download the Canon Print Plug-in which is only available on Amazon Fire devices. However, you can also print directly from USB or your camera's memory card. The printer comes with a sample cartridge of ink and a few sheets of paper.
Since the printer is small, you can take it on the go. That's great if you don't have a dedicated workspace for printing images to heat press.
If you want to create a collage, you can even have friends send photos to the printer. The Canon SELPHY CP1300 can print a variety of small photos, and it's wireless which makes it perfect for when you're out and about.
You can buy the printer for $80 to $120. The average customer rating is 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon.
Kodak Mini 2
- Easy print technology – mini smartphone printer lets you print 2. 1 x 3. 4” photos direct from Android or iOS device; No cables or buttons necessary
- Wireless connectivity – NFC one touch for Android Launches Kodak app to print in seconds; also compatible with iOS/Android via Bluetooth
- HIGH QUALITY PHOTOS – Innovative 4 PASS D2T2 Dye Transfer Method Produces Beautiful, Detailed Black/White or Color Portraits That Dry Instantly & Stay Bright Up to 10 Yrs
- All-in-one Convenience – innovative Kodak MC Cartridges combine paper & color ink for easy maintenance; purchase Refills in increments of 20, 30 or 50
- Free companion app – download the Kodak photo Printer app for filters, Cropping, stickers, card Templates, ID photo print, video & SNS print & More
The Kodak Mini 2 is another excellent compact printer that uses sublimation. It allows you to print photos straight from your phone or tablet.
This printer is wireless, and it's compatible with iOS and Android. The printer can produce high-quality photos that measure 2.1 inches by 3.4 inches.
Ink and paper are combined in one cartridge, so you don't have to worry about stocking two different things. If you want to customize your photos, you can download the Kodak photo app. The app lets you add filters and stickers, and you can also crop your photos.
Possibly the most significant limitation of this printer as well as the Canon is that you don't have much choice with the paper you use. If you want to use paper specifically for heat press, you may not have that option.
However, it's still an excellent sublimation printer. The Kodak Mini 2 costs $60 to $100. Amazon customers give it an average rating of 4.1 out of 5 stars.
Silhouette Cameo 3
- Cuts a variety of material including vinyl, paper, cardstock, fabric, and other materials up to 12 inches wide and 10 feet long.
- Use the powerful Silhouette Studio design software to create your projects. Features Bluetooth technology for wireless cutting or plugs into your home computer.
- Features a dual-carriage for multi-tool use and a higher 2 mm clearance to cut thicker materials. Is compatible with Print & Cut and PixScan technology.
- Is the only Silhouette compatible with the self-adjusting AutoBlade.
- Includes Silhouette CAMEO cutting machine, Silhouette Studio software, power cable and USB cable, 12-Inch Cutting Mat, AutoBlade cutting blade
The Silhouette Cameo 3 isn't a sublimation printer or a printer. However, we wanted to include it because it's a fantastic tool for a sublimation printer.
Once you print your design or image, you need to prepare it before you can apply it to fabric or ceramics. The Silhouette Cameo 3 is a cutting machine. It can cut paper, vinyl, fabric, and more.
This machine also comes with Silhouette Studio software so you can up your design game. You also get a cutting mat, a cutting blade, and of course the machine itself.
Printing is only one step in the process of heat pressing. So while we can't say the Silhouette is the best sublimation printer, it can be a useful tool for your next heat press project.
You can buy the Silhouette Cameo 3 for $180 to $220. The average customer rating is 4.1 out of 5 stars.
Finding the best sublimation printer can be hard. There are tons of options, but a lot of them aren't very good. We found a few select printers that use sublimation to transfer ink onto the paper or print medium.
And each of the printers works a little differently.
If you want the best sublimation printer for a heat press project, we recommend the Sawgrass Virtuoso Sublimation Printer. It's the only one on our list that's specifically for sublimation printing.
The other printers may work with sublimation ink. Or they might use sublimation in the printing process. But, they just aren't the same as a printer that was built just for sublimation.
Featured image via Pixabay