Best sublimation printers: top picks for stunning customized designs

Sublimation printing is a popular method for transferring vibrant and high-quality images onto various surfaces such as fabric, ceramics, and metal. Choosing the best sublimation printer is essential for achieving professional-looking results. In this article, we’ll explore the top sublimation printers on the market, discussing their features, benefits, and drawbacks.

This article will cover 3 categories:

  • Cheap sublimation printers
  • Convertible inkjet-to-sublimation printers
  • SMB and enterprise sublimation printers

Let’s dive in!

Sawgrass SG500: The Best Sublimation Printer for Beginners

Sawgrass SG500

  • Ease of use
  • Integration with popular cutting machines
  • Creative Studio app for design and import

The Sawgrass SG500 is an entry-level sublimation printer that offers an integrated approach, meaning it’s compatible with the company’s inks, papers, and app. This printer is designed with digital crafters in mind, as it has integrated support for Cricut Maker 3 and Silhouette Cameo 4. The Sawgrass SG500 is affordable, compact, easy to use, and compatible with SubliJet and EasySubli inks for perfect results.

Amazon link: Sawgrass SG500

Epson SureColor F170: The Best Cheap-to-Run Sublimation Printer

Epson SureColor F170

  • Out-of-the-box sublimation printer
  • Easy to switch between hard and soft materials
  • Cost-effective ink usage

The Epson SureColor F170 is designed as a sublimation printer from the start, making it super easy to set up and use. It’s also versatile, allowing you to create sublimation prints for everything from t-shirts to mugs. The printer uses large 140ml tanks and the cheapest inks on the market, making it cost-effective to operate.

Epson link: Epson SureColor F170

Epson EcoTank ET-2400: The Best Cheap Sublimation Printer

This is an inkjet printer that can be converted to a sublimation printer by filling it with sublimation ink instead of the supplied ink.

When converting a printer to sublimation, do note the Important Considerations to have in mind, since not all tank-based printers can be converted to sublimation printers.

Epson EcoTank ET-2400

  • Convertible to a sublimation printer
  • Compatibility with Epson’s mobile printer app and WiFi
  • Affordable entry into sublimation printing

The Epson EcoTank ET-2400 is an inkjet printer that can be converted into a sublimation printer by filling it with sublimation ink instead of the supplied ink. This affordable option allows you to experiment with sublimation printing without breaking the bank.

Epson link: Epson EcoTank ET-2400

HP Stitch S500: Efficient and Flexible Dye-Sub Design

HP Stitch S500

  • High-speed printing
  • Automated capabilities
  • Innovative water-based dye-sub ink

The HP Stitch S500 is ideal for businesses with high print demands, as it prints quickly and can be automated for overnight operation. This high-tech dye-sub printer uses water-based dye-sub ink and is compatible with both transfer paper and direct fabric printing.

HP link: HP Stitch S500

Epson SureColor F570 Pro: Simplified and Supersized Sublimation

Epson SureColor F570 Pro

  • Large-format printing
  • Built-in cutter
  • Professional software included

The Epson SureColor F570 Pro is a large-format inkjet printer that includes everything you need for fabric and hard surface printing. This printer is designed for ease of use and features a precisionCore MicroTFP printhead for the highest print quality.

Epson link: Epson SureColor F570 Pro

Mimaki TS100-1600: Fast and Affordable Fabric Sublimation

Mimaki TS100-1600

  • Direct-to-fabric printing
  • High print speed
  • Affordable option for startups and SMBs

The Mimaki TS100-1600 is a direct-to-fabric dye-sub printer that accepts 64-inch textile rolls, making it ideal for the fashion industry. With 900dpi print quality, this fast and affordable machine is perfect for startups and small-to-medium-sized businesses in the textile industry.

Mimaki link: Mimaki TS100-1600

Important Considerations

Not all tank-based printers can be converted to sublimation printers, so be cautious when selecting a model. For instance, HP’s Smart Tank printers use thermal printing, which is not suitable for sublimation.

Just looking at a close example: when converting an Epson EcoTank, keep in mind the following:

  • Cost: Converting an Epson EcoTank is cheaper than purchasing a purposely designed sublimation printer, and you can use any brand of sublimation ink, making it more cost-effective overall.
  • Durability: Sublimation inks can corrode the printer header, which means a converted printer may not last as long as a Sawgrass or Epson SureColor. However, if your converted printer eventually breaks, you can upgrade to a more specialized sublimation printer.
  • Experimentation: When using a converted printer, be prepared to experiment with different inks and settings, as results can vary. Sawgrass printers, for example, are tested and designed for perfect results every time you use them.

Selecting the best sublimation printer depends on your specific needs, budget, and intended usage. Beginners can start with the Sawgrass SG500, while those looking for cost-effective options might consider the Epson SureColor F170 or the converted Epson EcoTank ET-2400. For businesses with high print demands, the HP Stitch S500, Epson SureColor F570 Pro, or Mimaki TS100-1600 are suitable choices.