If you are looking for a sublimation printer for heat transfer then you’ll find the best ones listed below. Our list is compiled of printers you can convert for sublimation printing. Plus the few you can get out of the box as sublimation printers.
The printers are evaluated on these factors:
- How easy the printer is to convert to sublimation paper and ink
- Availability of sublimation ink, paper, and supplies for the printer
- Range of sublimation projects for the printer
We evaluated Brother and Epson printers then came up with a list of the best printers you can get for sublimation paper and ink.
Printers you don’t need to convert will be compared on other factors. For example, the Sawgrass SG500, Sawgrass SG1000, and the Epson SureColor F170 Dye-Sublimation Printer are manufactured as sublimation printers.
If you want to convert a printer then you have to get an Epson or Brother. You will find some are easier to convert than others. Printing supplies are easier to find for some printers than other printers. Some printers can handle larger projects while others are limited.
If you decide on converting a printer series then you should know your warranty won’t cover print quality related issues.
Best Printers for Sublimation under $220
If you are looking for inexpensive sublimation printers then you should consider these printers. They are friendly to your budget yet provide you the tools you need to do sublimation printing.
Just because these are cheap sublimation printers doesn’t mean they aren’t good. A photo printer and wide format top our list for best sublimation printers under $220.
Whether you’re a beginner or pro that doesn’t do a ton of printing, these printers will serve your purposes well.
- Advantages: Good for t-shirts and other large designs. Inexpensive price point, good print speed.
- Disadvantages: Average print quality, converting it requires chips & ink cartridges.
If you just want to try sublimation printing and need an inexpensive printer to convert, this is it. Compared to other printers under $220, the Epson WorkForce Pro WF-7310 and the EC-C7000 are the only ones you can print on 13 x 19 inch paper.
If you plan on sublimating t-shirts then you should use a wide format printer like this one. You will find larger paper allows for a greater range of sublimation projects you can do.
The Epson WorkForce Pro WF-7310 and the EC-C7000 have the same precision core printheads so your prints will have roughly the same quality. Since the EC-C7000 is designed to use slightly less ink for economy, the WF-7310 will be better for your sublimation projects.
The Epson WorkForce Pro WF-7310 print quality is good for any sublimation project. It’s average for an inkjet but you can see average for an inkjet is exceedingly good.
Epson print drivers let you do mirror image and basic color correction for sublimation printing.
You shouldn’t have any trouble finding sublimation ink supplies for the Epson WorkForce Pro WF-7310. There are more ink suppliers you can choose from but here are a few:
Either way the Epson WorkForce Pro WF-7310 is a great inexpensive way to do sublimation printing.
2. Epson Expression Premium XP-6100
The Epson Expression Premium XP-6100 is our runner up for a printer under $200 that you can convert to sublimation ink.
- Advantages: Good for mugs and tumblers. Photo print quality, inexpensive price point.
- Disadvantages: Limited paper size, converting it requires chips & ink cartridges.
If you’re looking to transfer mostly photos and don’t want to spend a lot of money, this printer is for you. For a small printer you will find it puts out excellent photo quality. Test images on the Epson Expression Premium XP-6100 have rich colors and smooth gradients.
It doesn’t have many features but if you’re converting it for sublimation ink it doesn’t need many. You won’t be using it for regular printing anyway.
If you plan on sublimating on mugs, tumblers, and other small projects then we recommend the Epson Expression Premium XP-6100. It will have the best results for your photos.
If you choose the XP-6100 be aware sublimation ink isn’t easy to find as the Epson Workforce WF-7310. There are at least two printing supply companies you can choose from:
You can get empty cartridges and fill them with sublimation ink for the Epson XP-6100. Or you can install a CISS for the Epson XP-6100. Either way there aren’t many options for you since not many companies carry sublimation ink for the Epson XP-6100.
If you want to transfer photos though, the Epson XP-6100 is an excellent choice.
Best Epson Ecotank Printer for Sublimation
Epson Ecotanks have excellent print quality for a 4 color inkjet printer. Differences between the Workforce and Ecotank series are hard to spot on many images. But the test pages I’ve seen favor the Ecotank.
Like the Workforce series, Ecotanks also come in wider format. If you need to do XXL t-shirts then larger paper is the best option. Being able to use 13 x 19 paper opens up a broader range of projects you can sublimate on.
Ecotanks are the easiest printers to convert to sublimation ink. You don’t have to mess with cartridges, chips, or firmware. Some ink suppliers provide you with bottles that will actually fit your model.
In those cases, converting to sublimation ink is as easy as adding stock ink.
Other suppliers provide you with a bottle and syringes. Which you then have to squirt ink into the tanks. Either way there aren’t any chips to tell the printer what ink is being put into the Ecotank.
Further, you won’t have to worry about a firmware update causing your ink cartridges to not be recognized. If you decide on an Ecotank then you can let your printer update firmware.
Ecotank printers have a higher initial cost but make up the difference in other ways. For example, most newer printers come with a one time use chip on the cartridge.
Even if you refill cartridges and swap those chips, the cost of those chips adds up over time. After several thousand pages your initial savings will be outpaced by an Ecotank.
If you plan on doing a lot of sublimation then an Ecotank will save you money in the long run.
1. Epson Ecotank ET-2800
The Epson Ecotank ET-2800 is our top pick for the best Ecotank printer to convert for sublimation.
- Advantages: Great for mugs, tumblers, and other small designs. Good print quality.
- Disadvantages: Limited paper size.
If you want a simple printer to convert to sublimation, this is the printer you should choose. You don’t need to mess with ink cartridges or a CISS. Simply add sublimation ink and you’re ready to go.
It doesn’t have many features but if you’re converting it for sublimation ink, it doesn’t need many. You won’t be using it for duplex or faxing.
What’s good is the Epson Ecotank ET-2800 has the same excellent print quality as the other Ecotanks. Epson Ecotanks have slightly better quality than Workforce printers. You will have no trouble with photos and smaller designs.
It is limited to 8.5 x 14 paper size. You can still do t-shirts with the Epson Ecotank ET-2800. Although you will need to use smaller designs or break larger designs into two heat transfers.
If you choose theET-2800 sublimation ink and paper are easy to find. Here are three printing supply companies you can choose from:
If you want an easy printer to convert the Epson Ecotank ET-2800 is a good choice. It isn’t as expensive as sublimation ready printers yet has similar print quality.
If your just beginning in sublimation then this is a good printer to start with. It’s easy to convert and doesn’t require a huge investment.
Best 13 x 19 Sublimation Printers
If you plan on doing t-shirts, blankets, or other large designs then you’ll need a wide format sublimation printer. 13 x 19 paper open up more projects for your sublimation printer.
You can still do mugs, tumblers, and other small designs with these printers. But they can sublimate what smaller printers can’t:
- XXL size t-shirts
If you have designs for these items in mind then these printers should interest you. The Epson WF-7310 is also a wide format printer but it already tops our list for a cheap printer.
These are other wide format printers capable of using dye-sublimation ink:
1. Epson Ecotank ET-15000
The Epson Ecotank ET-15000 is our top pick for a printer capable of large paper that you can convert for sublimation.
- Advantages: Great for t-shirts and other large designs. Good print quality.
- Disadvantages: Large paper only feeds from rear one at a time.
This is a very popular printer people convert to sublimation ink. Ecotanks have better print quality than the workforce series. They are easy to convert and you can do a wide range of sublimation projects with the Epson Ecotank ET-15000.
If you want a printer for larger projects but don’t want to pay nearly $2,000 for the Sawgrass 1000, then this is the printer for you. It can match the Sawgrass on paper size and quality plus the Epson ET-15000 will be less expensive to run.
If you plan on doing t-shirts then this printer is a good choice. The Epson Ecotank ET-15000 can do full bleed 13 x 19 paper and stream feed up 48 inch paper.
One drawback is you can only load one sheet at a time in the large paper tray. The largest paper you can put in the main tray is 8.5 x 14.
If you want to load 50 sheets of 13 x 19 paper you would need to upgrade to the Epson Ecotank ET-16600. The ET-16600 also accepts 11 x 17 in the main tray.
One advantage for this Ecotank is you won’t have to deal with cartridges or a CISS. Hiipoo Ink bottles fit the ET-15000 so converting it doesn’t require any syringes. There are at least two other printing supply companies you can choose from:
2. Brother MFC-J5845DW
The Brother MFC-J5845DW is our runner up for a wide format printer you can use for sublimation printing.
- Advantages: Good for t-shirts. Good print quality.
- Disadvantages: Limited to 11x 17 paper.
If you’re looking for a printer to do t-shirts then the Brother MFC-J5845DW is worth checking out. It’s less expensive than the Epson Ecotank ET-15000 and can do more than 1 large page at a time.
The Brother MFC-J5845DW can’t do 13 x 19 inch paper but it can fit 250 sheets of 11 x 17 size in its main tray.
You can still do XXL t-shirts with 11 x 17 size paper, depending on the design and heat press. Common sizes for heat press platens are:
- 9 x 12
- 15 x 15
- 16 x 20
Converting it to some degree easier than the Epson Workforce WF-7310.
Mainly because you can reset Brother chips whereas Epson chips have to be replaced. Also because you won’t have to fill the Inkvestment Tank cartridges as often as standard cartridges.
Once converted the Brother MFC-J5845DW is capable of excellent print quality for a 4 color inkjet printer. Epson’s tend to run a bit heavy on cyan but the Brother’s colors are very balanced.
Getting sublimation ink for a Brother can be challenging, but there are a few options. You can get empty cartridges like these:
Then fill them with sublimation ink from one of these suppliers:
You can refill the same cartridges with a chip re-setter. Firmware updates aren’t an issue either since you can reset the chips.
If you need to do a lot of large designs then the Brother MFC-J5845DW is a viable option.
Best Sublimation Ready Printers
1. Epson SureColor F170
The Epson SureColor F170 is our top pick for a sublimation ready printer.
- Advantages: Great print quality. Comes with sublimation ink.
- Disadvantages: Limited paper size.
If you’re looking for a printer you don’t have to modify then the Epson Surecolor F170 is a good choice. This printer costs much less than other sublimation ready printers from Sawgrass, Mitsubishi, or Roland DGA. It’s the least expensive printer you can get equipped for dye sublimation ink.
Compared to Sawgrass SG500 this printer has the same quality but for a lot less money. It doesn’t have three choices of ink like the sawgrass. But for most projects Epson’s dye-sublimation ink is fine.
This is a printer only, meaning it doesn’t have scan capabilities. You can’t use a sublimation printer for anything other than sublimation printing though. One benefit is without a scanner it’s very lightweight.
The Epson Surecolor F170 will give you good results with hats, mugs, mousepads, and other smaller designs. The print driver defaults to mirror image printing and has good features for color management.
GIMP is free. Illustrator is the most expensive but has the most features. Canva has a free and paid version. The paid version is a good value for its features.
Epson includes a full set of sublimation ink bottles with the Surecolor F170. You don’t have to mess with starter cartridges or ordering aftermarket supplies. This printer is ready out of the box for sublimation printing.
If you want a sublimation printer without any hassle, then you should consider the Epson Surecolor F170.
2. Sawgrass SG500
The Sawgrass SG500 is our runner up for a sublimation ready printer.
- Advantages: Great print quality. Choice of three types of sublimation ink.
- Disadvantages: Limited paper size. Ink cartridges are expensive.
If you’re looking for a sublimation ready printer then the Sawgrass SG500 is an excellent choice. It may cost more than a standard printer with similar features but Sawgrass will provide you with excellent support.
The Sawgrass SG500 is made for sublimation ink. If you choose the SG500 then you actually have three choices of ink:
- Sublijet UHD
- Chromablast UHD
Sublijet UHD and EasySubli are sublimation ink. Sublijet UHD is for polyester fabrics or polymer coated rigid materials. EasySubli is for heat transfer vinyl (HTV) but also works on polyester fabrics & polymer coated materials.
Chromablast on the other hand is not sublimation ink. It works on cotton fabrics. Honestly, you would be better off using a standard inkjet printer than getting a SG500 with Chromablast inks.
Basically, it comes down to whether you intend to do any HTV. If you do then get EasySubli, if not then Sublijet UHD.
Sawgrass also provides software with their products. Creative Studio is for you to create designs. The free version is very limited.
If you want premade designs that need little customization then you will like Creative Studio. If you want more styles, templates, and elements with a lot of customization then you should check out Canva.
Sawgrass has excellent customer support. They will do a lot of hand holding on your journey with their sublimation printers. If you don’t mind paying more then Sawgrass makes sublimation printing easy.
List of Printers for Sublimation
This is our master list of printers capable of being converted to sublimation printing. They are sorted by the following categories:
- Under $220
- Epson Ecotanks
- Wide Format
- Sublimation Ready
These are the printers we evaluated to get our top picks. Of course there are more printers that come out of the box as sublimation but they cost thousands of dollars.
|Brand||Printer||Max Paper||# of Colors|
|Epson||WorkForce Pro WF-7310||13 x 19 (Stream feed to 47)||4|
|Epson||WorkForce EC-C7000||13 x 19 (Stream feed to 47)||4|
|Epson||Expression Premium XP-6100||8.5 x 14||5|
|Epson||Expression Home XP-5100 Small-in-One||8.5 x 14||4|
|Printer||Max Paper||# of Colors|
|Ecotank ET-2800||8.5 x 14||4|
|Ecotank ET-2850||8.5 x 14||4|
|Ecotank ET-3830||8.5 x 14||4|
|Ecotank ET-3850||8.5 x 14||4|
|Ecotank ET-4760||8.5 x 14||4|
|Ecotank ET-4850||8.5 x 14||4|
|Ecotank ET-4850||8.5 x 14||4|
|Ecotank Photo ET-8500||8.5 x 14||6|
|EcoTank Pro ET-5170||8.5 x 14||4|
|EcoTank Pro ET-5150||8.5 x 14||4|
|EcoTank Pro ET-5180||8.5 x 14||4|
|EcoTank Pro ET-5800||8.5 x 14||4|
|EcoTank Pro ET-5850||8.5 x 14||4|
|EcoTank Pro ET-5880||8.5 x 14||4|
|WorkForce ST-2100 (Supertank)||8.5 x 14||4|
|Brand||Printer||Max Paper||# of Colors|
|Epson||WorkForce Pro WF-7820||13 x 19 (47)||4|
|Epson||WorkForce Pro WF-7840||13 x 19 (47)||4|
|Epson||Ecotank ET-15000||13 x 19 (47)||4|
|Epson||Ecotank ET-16600||13 x 19 (47)||4|
|Epson||Ecotank ET-16650||13 x 19 (47)||4|
|Epson||Ecotank ET-8550||13 x 19 (51)||6|
|Epson||WorkForce ST-C8000 (Supertank)||13 x 19 (47)||4|
|Epson||WorkForce ST-C8090 (Supertank)||13 x 19 (47)||4|
|Brother||MFC-J5845DW||11 x 17||4|
|Brother||MFC-J5945DW||11 x 17||4|
|Brother||MFC-J6545DW||11 x 17||4|
|Brother||MFC-J6945DW||11 x 17||4|
|Brand||Printer||Max Paper||# of Colors|
|Epson||SureColor F170||8.5 x 14||4|
|Epson||SureColor F570||24 inch rolls||4|
|Sawgrass||SG500||8.5 x 14||4|
|Sawgrass||SG1000||13 x 19 (51)||4|
|Sawgrass||VJ628||24 inch rolls||4|
Sublimation Ready Printers
|Brand||Printer||Max Paper||# of Colors|
|Epson||Workforce WF-7210||13 x 47||4|
|Epson||Workforce WF-7110||13 x 47||4|
|Epson||Workforce WF-7610||13 x 47||4|
|Epson||Workforce WF-7620||13 x 47||4|
|Epson||Workforce WF-7720||13 x 47||4|
|Epson||Workforce WF-3620||8.5 x 51||4|
|Epson||Workforce WF-3640||8.5 x 51||4|
|Epson||Any Artisan series||–||–|
|Brother||MFC-J5845DW XL||11 x 17||4|
|Brother||MFC-J6545DW XL||11 x 17||4|
If you’re looking for the least expensive printer for sublimation, see the Expression Home XP-5100 on our list. Also on the list is more wide format printers for sublimation.
We found some printers you can still get in stores but are discontinued. Supplies become scarce from any supplier once a printer is discontinued.
While there are many Ecotanks listed, we feel that any on the list besides the ET-2800 are overkill. They are included in case you already own one. If you already own one on the list then it’s an ideal printer to convert.
As far as buying a new one though the ET-2800 is recommended. Naturally this only applies to the Ecotank list. The wide format list includes a few Ecotanks.
If you are shopping for a sublimation printer then you will use a different set of parameters than a regular printer. For example, you can’t use two sided prints for sublimation. So you can leave duplex out of your calculations.
You may not need extra paper trays since most jobs are going to be small runs of the same size. An extra tray will come in handy if you plan to print on two paper sizes but isn’t as important as other factors.
The same goes for document feeders, fax, or scanning features. Any printer you get for sublimation won’t be using those features.
So you might as well get the simplest version of a printer you can find. Slower inkjet printers actually give you better results for sublimation. They can lay down more ink and improve quality.
Even on best print quality sublimation ink looks faded on paper. This is why you shouldn’t use sublimation ink for regular printing. Color images will have low quality and text will be grey.
Yet, after you transfer the images with heat they look terrific. Colors that look faded on paper look vibrant on t-shirts or mugs.
Print quality is important, yet a photo printer isn’t necessary for you to get good sublimation results. Extra colors make a difference for photo printing but you won’t see much improvement for sublimation jobs.
Any 4 color inkjet will get great results with sublimation ink.
When shopping for a sublimation printer or one to convert to sublimation there are a few factors to consider:
- Print Quality
- Paper handling
- Operating costs
There is a printer out there perfect for your needs. Find one within your budget that will handle the type of designs you plan on doing. Whether that leans toward larger paper size or photo quality will depend on your projects.
It can do sublimation printing if you add sublimation ink.
The Ecotank ET-15000, ET-16600, ET-8550, and WorkForce ST-C8000.
Sure. They are easy to convert, have good quality, and some are capable of larger paper. All good reasons to use them for sublimation printing.
The Copier Guy, aka Dave. I’ve worked on scanners, printers, copiers, and faxes over 23 years. When I’m not fixing them I’m writing about them. Although, I’m probably better at fixing them. I’ve worked with every major brand. As well as several types of processes. If it uses paper I’ve probably worked on one.