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How to Choose the Best Sublimation Printer for Your Needs

Updated: Aug 29, 2023








Hello, my crafty friends!


Do you love making personalized and unique products, such as T-shirts, mugs, phone cases, and more?

Are you interested in purchasing your own sublimation printer, but don't know where to start?


There are many factors to consider, such as print quality, print speed, print size, ink cost, and ease of use. In this post, we are going to talk about how to choose a sublimation printer. We will review some of the best sublimation printers on the market to help you find the one that suits your budget and goals.






When choosing your next sublimation printer, or your first, we have a checklist of features that will help you narrow down your search:



  • Print quality:

This is probably the most important factor to consider when buying sublimation supplies, as you want your prints to look vibrant, true to color, and professional.

When it comes to sublimation, print quality is more often affected by the brand of ink chosen, the paper chosen, the image quality, and even the printer settings!

However, we should talk about the resolution of the printer, which is measured in dots per inch (DPI). The higher the DPI, the better the print quality.


All of the printers that we are going to talk about today exceed the printer resolution.


So why talk about it?


Well, it is important to note that the higher the resolution of a printer, the higher the ink consumption and the slower the print speed.


  • Print speed:

This is another important factor to consider, especially if you plan to print large quantities of products or have tight deadlines.

For example, we currently run an Epson 15000 and the print speed cannot possibly compare to the speed of the Epson F570 we used to have.

The print speed depends on the size of the print head, the number of nozzles, and the ink delivery system. The faster the printer, the more efficient and productive you will be. However, faster printers also tend to be more expensive and louder.

If you come to prefer a printer with slower print speeds, you might consider running more than one at a time!


  • Print size:

This is another factor that depends on your needs and preferences. The print size determines what kind of products you can create with your sublimation printer. The larger the print size, the more versatile and creative you can be.

However, larger printers also tend to be more expensive and bulky. Many people start with a printer that prints 8.5 inches by 11 inches and then upgrade to a larger print size later on.


  • Ink cost:

The cost of ink affects your start-up budget and long-term profitability. The lower the ink cost, the more money you will save in the long run. However, lower-cost ink may also compromise print quality and durability so it's important to look a reviews! A good balance is to choose a printer that accepts high-quality sublimation ink that is affordable and easy to find.

Some printer types require you to use their brand of ink and often times it's more expensive than the alternative options

Sawgrass though a great option for many people, is a brand that requires customers to use their ink.


  • Ease of use:

Though budget and quality play a huge role, there is something to be said for ease of use, customer support and convenience.

The ease of use will depend on the design of the printer, the quality of the mechanics you can't see, the user interface and print programs, the connectivity options, and the customer support.

The easier the printer is to use, the more enjoyable and hassle-free your printing experience will be.

It's never any fun to be stuck with a broken or malfunctioning printer that you don't know how to fix. Ask me how I know!

It is important to note that regular maintenance/ repair and problem-solving are just a part of running a business, especially a sublimation business. Choosing a printer that comes with customer support and isn't known to have frequent problems, will help save you time to do other important tasks!







In my opinion, there is not a unicorn/ one size fits all printer on the market at this time. They each have their own pros and cons. We recommend choosing a quality that is most important to you and then picking your printer based on that quality.


Back in June of 2022, we lost our 24-inch Epson F570 in a house fire. When we went to purchase a new printer, my priority was budget friendly so rather than get a new Epson F570, we chose to start with a converted Epson Eco-tank to save $. We lost some valuable features, but it was the best choice for us at that time.


Next, we will go over several printers on the market. I have used almost all of the sublimation printers available and feel pretty qualified to share my personal take on the pros and cons.



You'll learn which printer is:


  1. Best for your budget - Epson EcoTank ET-2850

  2. Best for customer support - Sawgrass 500/1000

  3. Best bang for your buck - Converted Epson 15000

and finally...


4. Best bang for your buck -


Based on our research and experience, here are some of the best sublimation printers on the market that meet our criteria:


Best for your Budget:



Converted Epson EcoTank ET-2720: This is a great option to get started with sublimation printing on a budget.



Pros:


  • sufficient resolution: 5760x 1440 DPI

  • moderate print speed of 10 PPM for 8.5 x 11-inch pages

  • compatible with budget-friendly ink

  • easy-to-use design with an LCD screen

  • Wi-Fi connectivity

  • a USB port

  • voice-activated printing

Cons:

  • limited to 8.5 x 11-inch print size which limits the substrates that you can press on

  • Using sublimation ink with this printer automatically voids the manufacturer's warranty because this printer is not made for sublimation

  • There is no customer support or warranty with this printer when used as a sublimation printer

  • In our experience, the Eco Tanks are the slowest to print of all sublimation printers on the market


Best for customer support:



Sawgrass SG1000: This is one of the most popular and reliable sublimation printers on the market. This is my recommendation for anyone new to sublimation that feels like the technology side of it all might be overwhelming.



Pros:


  • sufficient resolution: 4800 x 1200 DPI

  • a fast print speed of 15 PPM for 8.5 x 11-inch pages

  • a large print size of 11 x 17 inches (with an optional bypass tray that allows for printing 13 by 19-inch pages

  • easy-to-use design with a touchscreen display

  • Wi-Fi connectivity

  • a USB port

  • all-in-one package deals which make start-up easy

  • the absolute best customer support when purchased new

  • set up is easy

  • Sawgrass colors are nice and vibrant with Sawgrass ink

  • cloud-based software

  • Sawgrass print manager will mirror and arrange images onto the page for you

  • one year warranty


Cons:


  • you are required to use Sawgrass ink which is more expensive ($0.14 per page )

If you're running a business, be sure to factor ink cost into your production costs! We didn't really pay much attention to that cost when we first started.



Best bang for your buck:



Converted Epson EcoTank ET- 15000: This printer boasts most of the same awesome features as the Converted Epson EcoTank ET-2720, but you can print up to 13 by 19 inches!



Pros:


  • sufficient resolution: 4800 x 1200 dpi

  • up to print speed of 16 PPM for 8.5 x 11-inch pages

  • compatible with budget-friendly ink

  • easy-to-use design with an LCD screen

  • Wi-Fi connectivity

  • a USB port

  • voice-activated printing

  • prints 13 by 19 inches pages which means you can fit several images per page and save $ or 1 xl image to expand your product base to larger substrates

Cons:


  • Using sublimation ink with this printer automatically voids the manufacturer's warranty because this printer is not made for sublimation

  • There is no customer support or warranty with this printer when used as a sublimation printer

  • In our experience, the Eco Tanks are the slowest to print of all sublimation printers on the market

Best all around printer:

Epson Surecolor F570: Though not the most budget friendly. This printer has the most features and boasts the biggest print size!

Pros:


  • sufficient resolution: 4800 x 1200 dpi

  • up to print speed of 16 PPM for 8.5 x 11-inch pages

  • compatible with budget-friendly ink

  • easy-to-use design with an LCD screen

  • Wi-Fi connectivity

  • a USB port

  • voice-activated printing

  • prints 13 by 19 inches pages which means you can fit several images per page and save $ or 1 xl image to expand your product base to larger substrates

Cons:


  • Using sublimation ink with this printer automatically voids the manufacturer's warranty because this printer is not made for sublimation






We would love to know what printer you chose!! Comment below when your new sublimation printer is on the way so we can get excited with you!!


If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below.



Happy printing!

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Hi- I’m Caroline!

Mom to four, military wife, small business owner and avid crafter! I love to learn new things and share what I know with others. Can’t find what you are looking for? Just ask!

Happy Crafting

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