Best Sublimation Printers (Based on Value and Convenience)

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If you’re looking to print your own shirt designs, custom mugs, garden flags, and more, then you need a sublimation printer. The best sublimation printers are able to print vibrant and intricate designs on sublimation paper that you can then transfer onto the surface of your choice.

Choosing the best sublimation printer is tough as there are many choices, especially if you are open to converting an inkjet printer to a sublimation printer. Not only that, but you might want the printer for wide format printing, one suited for beginners, and so on.

Our sublimation printer review looked at the available options and found the top 5 best sublimation printers. Read on to see which is right for you.

Sawgrass Virtuoso SG500
Epson EcoTank ET-3830
Epson EcoTank Photo ET-8550

Sublimation Printer Conversion

Before talking about the printers themselves, you should know there are there are some models that are made specifically for sublimation, such as Sawgrass Virtuoso, while others need to be converted for this type of work.

Can any inkjet printer be turned into a sublimation printer? No, it needs to have either thermal or Piezo printer heads. Thermal, as it sounds, heats the ink to a boiling point. This makes ink vapor that is forced through the nozzle and onto the substrate. Piezo print heads have a thin film that’s electrically charged. The film vibrates, which uses pressure to remove ink from the nozzle.

Converting an inkjet for sublimation is actually quite easy, but there are some very important things to keep in mind.

Sublimation Printer Conversion Pros and Cons

Let’s start with the benefits. Inkjet printers are much more affordable than true sublimation printers, often costing less than half and the materials tend to be more affordable as well. These printers also come in many different sizes and often have more features.

Whether you want sublimations printers that print 13×19, regular letter sheets, or more, then you can easily pick an inkjet that has these features and then convert it.

There are some significant disadvantages though. You will void the warranty on these printers. They also can’t be used for regular inkjet printing after the conversion (technically you can completely remove the sublimation ink and thoroughly clean the ink tank, but it’s so difficult it’s best to just buy another printer).

Converting Inkjet to Sublimation

It’s best to get a completely new printer for this. While you might be able to use an inkjet you just have lying around, you’ll run into the issue above of having to very thoroughly remove the regular inkjet ink, which is harder than it sounds.

Several different models work well, but the most popular and easiest would be Epson Ecotank. Nearly every Ecotank can be used for sublimation. Simply add sublimation ink to the ink tank and that’s all there is to it.

It’s very easy, but only if you use the right printer, don’t combine inkjet and sublimation inks, and understand the pros and cons.

Best Sublimation Printer for Beginners

Sawgrass UHD Virtuoso SG500 Sublimation Printer

If you didn’t know any better, then you might think that Sawgrass SG500 Sublimation Printer is a regular inkjet printer. It looks nearly the same as well, and it’s just as versatile, but it doesn’t work with regular ink and paper. Not only is this printer simple to use, but it comes with all the accessories you need to start your own creative printing at home.

You get 100 sheets of premium sublimation printer that allows you to transfer designs to mugs, puzzles, phone cases, and more. It also has design cards, a sublimation blanks sample pack, heat resistant transfer tape in various sizes, CreativeStudio Designer, and much more.

It prints normal sizes up to 8.5×11 and 8.5×14, but the bypass tray allows you to print 8.5×51. The printing speed is also very good at 19PPM. The designs can then be transferred to aluminum, hardboard, wood, tiel, acrylic, glass, polyester textiles, and other materials.

Whether you simply want to be more creative or set up your own Etsy shop, this is the best sublimation for beginners.

Best Epson Sublimation Printer

Epson EcoTank ET-3830

The Epson EcoTank printers are fantastic as they reduce waste, have large ink tanks, and are very robust and versatile. This makes them great as home and office printers, but they are also fantastic for sublimation printing. Nearly any Ecotank can be converted for sublimation printing, but the best Epson sublimation printer in our opinion is the Epson Ecotank ET3830.

Ecotank 3830 has some unique features such as PrecisionCore printing that creates sharper text and impressive colors. While this was intended to be used with genuine Epson ink, you’ll see the same result with Epson sublimation ink, such as Hiipoo Sublimation Ink. Remember, it’s best to convert a completely new printer as removing existing ink is very difficult.

This is a fast printer that prints 15PPM black and 8PPM color, it offers copying and scanning, and it allows for wireless and mobile printing. The 2.4” color screen makes it simple to control the printer, and it allows for printing up to 8.5×11.

If this doesn’t suit your needs, then check the complete line of Epson EcoTanks for one that suits you better.

Best Wide Format Sublimation Printer

Epson EcoTank Photo ET-8550

The best wide format sublimation printer brings us back to Epson and we have to give this to Epson EcoTank Photo ET8550. The Epson EcoTank ET8550 is one of their best photo printers, but it has many benefits that make it ideal for sublimation printing.

The maximum size is 13×19, so you can easily make large prints for shirts and other surfaces. The premium six-color ink tank ensures you get more vibrant prints, and it provides professional print results in mere seconds. This gives you the best performance at a fantastic price. Not only that, but it has borderless printing. You’ll have no problem printing on the entire sublimation sheet with ease.

Much like other EcoTanks, this has wireless printing so that you can immediately move designs from your phone to the sublimation blank. It also comes with a USB port for flash drives, and the large color touchscreen makes it simple to control.

Best Sublimation Printer for Shirts

Sawgrass UHD Virtuoso SG1000 Starter Bundle

If you’re looking to make shirts for yourself, family, coworkers, or as a side hustle, then you need a fast and reliable printer that is able to create vibrant prints and in large sizes. We can’t think of anything better than Sawgrass Virtuoso SG1000 Sublimation Printer. Much like the Sawgrass SG500, this printer comes with a starter pack and is ready to sublimate without conversion.

So, what is the difference between Sawgrass 500 and 1000? The major difference is their size. Sawgrass SG1000 is able to print sheets up to 11×17 while SG500 is able to print sheets of 8.5×11 and 8.5×14. You’ll also find that the print quality is better with SG1000 and it has a 19PPM rating despite printing larger sheets. This allows you to make large designs that cover the entire front of the shirt.

Another huge benefit is the massive ink tank. You can print hundreds of sheets while having plenty of ink left over. While this is the best shirt sublimation printer, keep in mind that this printer doesn’t work directly on fabric and the shirt should be primarily polyester to properly adhere.

Best Sublimation Printer for Heat Transfer

Canon PIXMA G1220

The best heat transfer sublimation printer is the Canon G1220 Pixma. Heat transfer is often placed in contrast with sublimation as the ink transfer is done via a heat press machine. Many standard inkjets can print on heat transfer paper, but sublimation printers can do this as well (as long as the paper is made for sublimation printing).

So what makes this good for heat transfer printing? Canon Pixma 1220 is an affordable printer with a mega tank that allows you to easily convert it for sublimation printing. It offers good speed, vibrant printing, and great colors that will ensure your designs look amazing once it’s done. This ensures that you can make heat transfers for yourself or your creative side hustle.

The other printers here can be used for the same purpose, but this is the most affordable printer here and it’s best for occasionally printing heat transfer sheets.

Sublimation Printers Reviews

Still having a hard time picking the right sublimation printer? Don’t worry, we’ll directly compare the printers we reviewed above so you make the best choice.

Sawgrass Virtuoso SG500 Review

  • Sawgrass Virtuoso SG500 vs Epson EcoTank 3830: offers a full bundle of accessories, faster printer, doesn’t require conversion
  • Sawgrass Virtuoso SG500 vs Epson EcoTank Photo 8550: offers a full bundle of accessories, faster printer, doesn’t require conversion
  • Sawgrass Virtuoso SG500 vs Sawgrass Virtuoso SG1000: more affordable, more compact
  • Sawgrass Virtuoso SG500 vs Canon Pixma G1220: more features, more accessories, doesn’t require conversion

Epson EcoTank 3830 Review

  • Epson EcoTank 3830 vs Sawgrass Virtuoso SG500: more affordable, larger paper capacity, more printing features, mobile printing
  • Epson EcoTank 3830 vs Epson EcoTank Photo 8550: more affordable, similar features
  • Epson EcoTank 3830 vs Sawgrass Virtuoso SG1000: more affordable, more compact
  • Epson EcoTank 3830 vs Canon Pixma G1220: better features, similar price, mobile printing

Epson EcoTank Photo 8550 Review

  • Epson EcoTank Photo 8550 vs Sawgrass Virtuoso SG500: larger printing sizes, more features, mobile printing
  • Epson EcoTank Photo 8550 vs Epson EcoTank 3830: larger printing sizes, some more features, better resolution
  • Epson EcoTank Photo 8550 vs Sawgrass Virtuoso SG1000: somewhat larger printing, mobile printing
  • Epson EcoTank Photo 8550 vs Canon Pixma G1220: larger printing sizes, more features, mobile printing, better resolution

Sawgrass Virtuoso SG1000 Review

  • Sawgrass Virtuoso SG1000 vs Sawgrass Virtuoso SG500: larger printing sizes, somewhat better resolution, faster printing
  • Sawgrass Virtuoso SG1000 vs Epson EcoTank 3830: larger printing sizes, somewhat better resolution, faster printing, doesn’t require conversion
  • Sawgrass Virtuoso SG1000 vs Epson EcoTank Photo 8550: doesn’t require conversion, starter pack with accessories
  • Sawgrass Virtuoso SG1000 vs Canon Pixma G1220: more features, larger printing sizes, doesn’t require conversion, better resolution

Canon Pixma G1220 Review

  • Canon Pixma G1220 vs Sawgrass Virtuoso SG500: more affordable, some unique features
  • Canon Pixma G1220 vs Epson EcoTank 3830: more affordable
  • Canon Pixma G1220 vs Epson EcoTank Photo 8550: more affordable, more compact
  • Canon Pixma G1220 vs Sawgrass Virtuoso SG1000: more affordable, more compact


We’re going to answer your biggest questions here. If you have other questions, then put them in the comments and we’ll be sure to answer them.

Are Sublimation Printers Worth It?

In terms of quality, sublimation printing is ideal for vivid colors, fantastic details, and one of the best ways of printing. While the printers are often somewhat more expensive than regular inkjet printers, we’ve covered above how you can convert many inkjets into sublimation printers. Plus, transferring the print to your intended destination (clothing, mug, puzzle, etc) is nearly permanent.

This is great for creative types and those who love making custom products, and we would definitely say it’s worth it for those who have Etsy shops or who make products for customers. It costs significantly less to do your own printing, and it puts you in complete control.

Are Sublimation Printers Inkjet?

Since many inkjets can be turned into sublimation machines, you might be wondering if they are the same. The major difference is the printhead and ink. Sublimation printers (and inkjets that can be converted) tend to use heat as this ink permeates the sheet or material via ink vapors. Inkjet printers on the other hand simply place the ink on top of the sheet.

Can Sublimation Printers be Used for Regular Printing?

While the prints on sublimation paper often look like regular prints, this shouldn’t be used for regular printing. The print is meant to be transferred onto the intended product or substrate, so it’s only a medium.  While this is fine for transferring photos, graphics, and text, this certainly isn’t the printer you’d want to use for document printing.

Can Sublimation Printers Print White?

Much like with inkjets and laser printers, sublimation involves CMYK printing. Unfortunately, no matter how you mix them, these inks will never create white. You would instead need to use a white colored item, or be OK with the fact that white won’t appear after you print the image.

Can I Use My Regular Printer for Sublimation?

What kind of printers can be used for sublimation? The truth is that many inkjets can be converted to sublimate, but it’s best if it’s an ink tank printer (like EcoTank) and uses thermal printheads.

Can I do sublimation with any printer? While you might think that you can convert an old inkjet to sublimation, it’s best to buy a new one and then convert it. An old printer can be used, but you need to completely clean out the inkjet ink. Even a drop remaining can interfere with printing.

What’s Sublimation Printing?

How sublimation printing works? Many people are curious about this type of printing since it’s so versatile. This involves using special ink and printing on sublimation paper, which allows you to transfer the image to another material such as glass, ceramic, or a polyester mix. Those with Etsy shops, making promotional items, or who want custom clothes will find that they love this printing as it allows them to make everything they could ever dream of.

What Sublimation Printer Should I Buy?

It really comes down to what you’re looking for. If you want a sublimation printer that’s best for beginners and doesn’t require conversion, then we recommend Sawgrass UHD Virtuoso SG500. It comes with everything you need, and it’s simple to use.

It also depends on what size printing you want to do. What sublimation printer prints 13×19? Epson EcoTank Photo ET-8550 is great to use and easy to convert to sublimation printing. What sublimation printer prints 11×17? Then we recommend Sawgrass UHD Virtuoso SG1000, which is just as easy to use as the SG500, but it offers larger prints.

Where to Buy Sublimation Printer Near Me?

Wondering where to get a sublimation printer? While some stores have them, especially arts and crafts stores, it’s honestly much easier to buy online. Not only that, but you got more options with Amazon and other retailers.

Why Sublimation Printing?

If you want to make custom shirts, mugs, puzzles, journals, and more, then sublimation is honestly the best way to do it. There are iron-on transfer sheets you can print with your inkjet, but these tend to be low-quality and the design falls off after a few washes. Sublimation is nearly permanent, looks better, and feels better to the touch.

Can Sublimation Printing be Done on Cotton?

At the time of this writing you cannot apply sublimation printing directly to cotton, at least not full cotton garments. The inks bond best to polyester, polymers, and blends that are primarily polyester. However, ink developers are working hard to include cotton and there have been some strides in this area.