Last Updated on February 4, 2023
Sublimation printers allow you to print directly onto fabric using a special heat transfer ink. The ink quickly sublimates (goes directly from a solid to a gas) into the fabric and the printed design stays put forever. The heat transfer process is incredibly fast – the fabric heats up, and the ink turns into gas seconds after pressing the fabric. This means that you can start printing right away. Heat transfer printing is a cutting-edge technology that uses a heat press and a printer to print heat transfer designs onto fabrics.
But like any other technology, heat transfer printing also has its downsides. Many heat transfer sublimation printers are expensive, not all heat transfer materials are suitable for all types of fabric, and heat transfer ink can fade.
Let’s go through the expert tips before getting into the list to choose the best sublimation printer for heat transfer.
Experts Tips to Use Printers for Sublimation and Heat Transfer Projects.
Ensure to get the correct type of Heat Press
You must be clear about what kind of projects you are going to make. Get the heat press that is compatible with your blanks like mugs, hats, plates, etc
Supplies Required for Sublimation
In order to sublimate, you have to have 6 things. It does not include your tape, adhesive spray, or other tools you use; this is just what you need to get it on your substrate correctly.
- Sublimation ink
- Transfer paper
- Heat Press
- The right amount of pressure
- Timing is everything
You need the right substrate (this is what we call the item that we are subbing on. It can be a shirt, a piece of wood, a piece of acrylic, or what have you).
Accurate Transfer Paper
Some people use regular copy paper for the transfer paper, and most people prefer sublimation paper because it is thicker and meant to hold ink. I only use sublimation paper. Transfer paper comes in different weights. You’ll notice that some of them will say 125, 120, 105. it is referring to the amount of ink that it can hold. I personally like different weights for different substrates.
Like baking cake, your sublimation ink will either over process or under process if you don’t have the right temperature. So it’s really important to have the right temperature! Every substrate is going to require a different temperature. It is a continuous learning process, and a lot of it depends on your heat source. Some items are going to require higher temperatures with lower times, like a shirt. We may do 400°F for 60 seconds. If I make a Tumbler, I may do 350° for five minutes.
Apply the required pressure only. Nothing more or less
Pressure is extremely important. Some items don’t require a lot of pressure, whereas others need consistent pressure when applying your paper against your item. Otherwise, you’ll get what we call ghosting which are dull or white spots that actually look cloudy or ghosty. This is when taping and adhesive sprays come in handy.
Heat Press Timing
Timing is important. Again, like baking a cake or coloring hair, if you don’t allow it enough time, it will not fully process (under-baked). If you leave it in too long, it’s going to overprocess, and your colors and substrate will come out what we call overbaked. Generally, green that was supposed to be black means that it wasn’t in there long enough, orange or brown for blacks means that it’s burnt and left in too long. There are some basic times, like 400°F 60 seconds for polyester fabric garments. Again, this is just a standard; your particular heat source may differ from what works. Every substrate will require a different level of timing, just like with the heat.
Best Sublimation Printers for Heat Transfer
1. Mono-Laser by Brother – Best Budget Sublimation Printer
The first printer I have reviewed is a reliable, high-quality laser printer with a fast print speed of 30 pages per minute.
Brother’s built-in duplex function allows you to print both sides of the paper, saving time and avoiding jams. This is the ideal printer for businesses with lots of paperwork and busy schedules.
It’s also capable of printing up to 250 sheets of paper on a tray, so it’s great for printing designs to transfer to substrates.
The feature I loved about this printer is that you can print up to 2600 pages without paying any attention to ink replacement or refilling. It comes with a replacement of 2600 sheets capacity.
I got superb quality prints that were bright, vibrant, and heat transfer compatible. 2600 x 2600 dpi resolution is enough to print the colors true to life.
If you’re looking for a reliable laser printer with many features, the Brother HL-L2320D is the way to go.
2. HP OfficeJet Pro 8035 All-in-One Wireless Printer
The HP OfficeJet Pro 8035 is the latest all-in-one printer from HP, and it’s packed with features that will help you create a clean, professional work environment for your business.
This printer can do just about anything you want, and it’s one of the most versatile printers around. It can handle a wide variety of documents, and it can even make copies or scans when you need it.
OfficeJet Pro is a handy printer for sublimation. It comes with 8 months of ink, and you can add more at any time using the included Instant Ink cartridges. You can also reorder the ink in bulk when you run out, and there are several sizes available to accommodate different print sizes.
You can also get help with 24/7 HP customer support, and you can get free one-year access to HP Instant Ink, which delivers ink cartridges to your door. This is perfect for those who don’t like to run out of ink.
The HP OfficeJet Pro 8035 can even print and copy documents wirelessly, and it comes with a USB port to connect to your computer and share files.
This printer is also very easy to set up, and it doesn’t take much time to set up. It also includes a 2-year warranty, so you can easily fix it if anything goes wrong.
HP’s OfficeJet Pro 8035 All-in-One is a great sublimation printer for home business. I use it in my home studio for personal and professional printing needs, and I’ve been very happy.
3. HP Laserjet Pro M452dw – Sublimation Compatible Printer
The HP LaserJet Pro M452dw is a slightly more advanced option than the Pro 8035. It’s a fast and accurate color printer, and it works well for printing heat transfer projects. It’s also very compact, so it’s easy to carry around and move from room to room. It also has a good paper capacity, so you won’t need to refill the tray often.
One of the best things about this printer is its speed. It can print up to 4 pages per minute, faster than most other printers. That means you won’t have to wait around for your print job to finish before starting the next one.
This printer measures 11.2 inches wide, 6.3 inches tall, and 8.5 inches deep, so it’s easy to store in the corner of a crafting room. You can allocate a minimum space for it to make heat transfer and sublimation business designs.
HP offers a 1-year limited hardware warranty, which is slightly shorter than what some of the other manufacturers offer. But it’s still long enough to cover most of the issues that could happen to your printer.
If you do encounter any problems, you can call HP Customer Support for free 24/7, and they’ll provide you with the phone number and email address of the nearest authorized service center.
The only downside is that HP doesn’t offer a lot of software and features for this printer. There’s only Wi-Fi, USB, and Ethernet connectivity.
Bluetooth connectivity is not available for this printer, but that’s not a huge deal. You can connect this printer to a PC and print from there.
4. Epson EcoTank 3760 – Best Commerical Printer
In my list of best sublimation printers for heat presses, I have included the Epson EcoTank ET 3760. It can be used to create beautiful designs without fading. The EcoTank ET-3760 is a fast, versatile, and reliable small sublimation printer to use with a heat press machine. It has a large paper tray, and its automatic document feeder makes scanning and copying documents easy and quick.
It’s compatible with Windows, Mac OS, and Linux operating systems. Epson-3760 supports the USB 2.0 and 3.0 standards, allowing you to connect it to your computer easily.
It supports various media types, including plain paper, envelopes, labels, and transparencies. You can also add special paper types, such as vellum, and it also supports various special paper types, including vellum, transparencies, and photo paper.
It features a large, easy-to-read LCD and a 250-sheet paper tray for various sizes. The paper tray automatically loads the sheets, so you won’t need to stop and reload. It has a 2.4” color display that makes it easy to scan documents or copy files.
5. Epson Workforce WF 7210 – Best Sublimation Printer for Small Business
The Epson WorkForce WF 7210 is a reliable and affordable option for businesses, freelancers, and home office users. It’s a versatile printer perfect for both professional and personal use.
The WorkForce WF 7210 has a 12.1″ wide printable area, making it ideal for business use. It features a variety of print modes that give you the flexibility to print SVGs, photographs, and other content.
The WorkForce WF 7210 is also compatible with Epson Dash Replenishment. This system keeps track of your ink usage and automatically orders more when you need it. So you’ll never run out of ink again.
This is an affordable option for anyone who needs a reliable, high-quality color printer perfect for personal and business needs.
6. Lexmark MC3224dwe – Multifunctional Sublimation Printer for Heat Transfer
MC3224dwe comes with a 2.8-inch (7.2 cm) e-Task touch screen, making it easy to use and navigate.
The Lexmark MC3224dwe does a great job of handling documents with the same ease that you’d expect from a laser printer. It prints up to 24 pages per minute and is capable of A4 paper, plus you can also print on both sides of the paper. The paper tray is large enough for almost any paper size, and it also includes a 100-sheet paper feeder.
You can also print on plain paper, and it has a convenient paper feeder. There are no ink cartridges to worry about here either, and the Lexmark MC3224dwe has a standard input tray for ink-jet and dye-sublimation printers.
The Lexmark MC3224dwe can handle multiple copies at once too. It has a standard duplex function and can make up to 60 copies in one go.
The Lexmark MC3224dwe is a great choice for the sublimation crafts business like Easter Egg holders and such special gifts. It’s easy to set up and very reliable, and a 3-year warranty also backs it.
Although this entry-level AIO from Lexmark prints well and quickly, its high operating costs and lack of an automated document feeder limit its usefulness in low-volume settings.
7. HP Smart Tank Plus 551 Wireless All-In-One Inkjet Printer
Tank Plus 551 got my attention when I learned that it is made from durable plastic and has a capacity of up to 2 years of ink. It has an auto-fill function and comes with 4 ink cartridges, so you won’t worry about refilling. The tank can be easily removed and replaced with the included caps, making it easy to manage the ink.
The stand-out benefit that helps HP printer beat its competitors is that you can print up to 6,000 black and color pages per month for up to two years on this ink tank printer, which is pretty impressive.
The ink tank is easy to refill. It doesn’t require you to remove the whole unit from the printer; just lift off the bottom cover. You can also check the level of the ink in the container. Just open the lid and see how much is left. You can simply replace the empty ink tank with a full one when the ink runs out. The one-year limited hardware warranty covers parts and labor. However, you have to register the printer online to get the warranty.
FAQs About Best Sublimation Printer For Heat Transfer
Is Sublimation better than vinyl printing?
Yes. Sublimation doesn’t leave a vinyl-type feel. It goes into the fibers of the fabric. The blanket feels just like the blanket originally did.
Can I print on sublimation paper with regular inkjet ink?
No. Regular ink on sublimation paper will mess up the colors. You need a sublimation printer with the correct link for a sublimation paper. You can’t just use inkjet ink.
Is laser or inkjet better for heat transfer?
Laser printers offer a smaller range of heat transfer papers than inkjet printers. Inkjet printers produce a higher quality print. There is a wide range of papers to choose from, including those with a soft hand, a smaller border, and vivid color.
Is Avery Paper the Same as Sublimation Paper?
No. the Sublimation paper isn’t like Avery’s paper. Avery transfer paper is for printing with an inkjet printer and is vinyl.
Can you use sublimation ink on heat transfer paper for dark clothes?
No. I don’t use heat transfer paper anymore. Mine didn’t hold up in the wash. I use EasySubli paper now.
What equipment do you need for heat transfer printing?
To print larger designs, you will need a larger printer than the one you normally use for heat press applications. In addition, heat transfer printers work the same way as inkjet printers, they just require a different kind of ink and special transfer paper.
Can I switch inks between regular inkjet ink and sublimation Ink?
No. Switching inks will damage the printer. Use dedicated sublimation ink and media if you want to use an inkjet printer for sublimation projects.
Is sublimation printer better than an inkjet?
Graphics are best printed on plastic substrates with sublimation printing. A document should be printed using an inkjet printer. A photo or document printed with an inkjet printer will run if it is exposed to moisture without being laminated or coated. The graphics printed by sublimation are not susceptible to water damage.
I have tried my best to broaden the canvas. There are the best printers from Epson, HP, Workforce, and Laser printers. Overall best sublimation printer for heat transfer is Lexmark MC3224dwe. It is a medium-priced high tech and versatile printer. OfficeJet Pro 8035 stands second in my list. I had been using it and I really liked its smooth and stress-free printing. The rest of the printers reviewed above are either Workforce or Eco Tanks. I personally prefer Eco Tanks over Workforce because of their climate-friendly nature and refillable ink tanks.
For the past five years, I have been working as a printer service supervisor in a printing press that serves customers with tailor-made designs and prints. My job involved dealing with printers five days a week, so I decided to take up printing as a hobby.