Best Sublimation Printer For Beginners & Starters 2024

Whether you want to imprint your favorite design on cups, sweaters, shirts, or glass, you need the best sublimation printer. Using a professional printing machine can be expensive and complicated, especially for a beginner. That’s where the best sublimation printer for beginners comes into play to make printing an effortless task for new users.

Once I was new to sublimation printing and knew nothing about it. I did nothing special but read product reviews, compared prices, explored the best sublimation printer brands, and went through several unpleasant experiences before finding a perfect match for my printing needs.

Best Sublimation Printer For Beginners

Selection of these best beginner sublimation printers wasn’t easy at all as it took our hours of research, testing dozens of multiple brands’ products, reading real customer reviews, and testing from 360 degrees angle including body durability, printing result, connectivity, ease of use, easy refilling, cost-effective running, and affordability.

Best Sublimation printer for beginners & Starters in 2024

Epson-Premium-EcoTank-4800
Epson Premium EcoTank 4800
  • Flatbed scanner
  • 100 sheets capacity 
  • 1.44 inches display
Epson-EcoTank-ET-3850
Epson EcoTank ET-3850
  • Duplex printings
  • Excellent ink system
  • Auto document feeder
Epson EcoTank ET-2760
Epson EcoTank ET-2760
  • 1.44 inches display
  • Double-sided scan
  •  Inkjet technology

Image Product Name Benefits Price
Top Pick
 
Epson-EcoTank-ET-2720
1- Epson EcoTank ET-2720
  • Inkjet Printer
  • Lightweight
  • 1.44 inches display screen
  • High-capacity ink tanks
Epson-EcoTank-ET-2760
2- Epson EcoTank ET-2760
  • All-in-one printer
  • Display screen of 1.44 inches
  • Double-sided scan
  • Auto duplex printing
Sawgrass-Virtuoso-SG500
3- Sawgrass Virtuoso SG500
  • Outstanding printing
  • Durable prints
  • Connect with MacBook
  • DPI resolution
Epson-Premium-EcoTank-4800
4- Epson Premium EcoTank 4800
  • 1.44 inches screen
  • Flatbed scanner
  • 200 DPI
  • Hold up to 100 sheets
Epson-EcoTank-ET-3850
5- Epson EcoTank ET-3850
  • Inkjet printer
  • Automatic document feeder
  • Duplex printing
  • Excellent ink system
Epson-EcoTank-ET-4760
6- Epson EcoTank ET-4760
  • Flatbed scanner and ADF
  • Hands-free printing
  • 2.4 inches color screen
  • Duplex printing
Sawgrass-SG1000
7- Sawgrass SG1000
  • Superb print quality
  • UHD ink cartridges
  • High resolution

1- Epson EcoTank ET-2720

Epson EcoTank ET-2720
  • Printing technology Inkjet
  • Connectivity technology Wi-Fi, Ethernet & USB
  • Compatible devices Smartphones, Laptops & PC
  • Printer weight 12.17 pounds

A versatile inkjet printer with a super tank system, affordable, and above all, low cost per print, which is great for new users, Epson EcoTank ET-2720 can be used for a wide range of uses. The build quality is decent, with convenient access to ink tanks and paper loading.

There is no rear access, and managing paper jams was difficult for me. Overall this lightweight sublimation printer for beginners has a compact design with space-saving options for small places.

Equipped with 1.44 inches display screen, the printer allows to tilt of the display console upwards for better visibility. The push buttons are located around the screen for quick navigation. The prime appealing aspect of the EcoTank ET-2720 is its great super tank system.

It has four high-capacity ink tanks that can yield a significant number of both black and color pages before refilling. Refilling was quite easy and cost-effective. 

four high-capacity ink tanks. filling ink in the ET-2720
filling ink in the ET-2720

Scanning features are satisfactory as per my experience, with only a flatbed scanner available. There is no duplex scanning, so you have to manage double-sided documents manually if not used with sublimation. Sublimation is done effectively on the poly-coated side of the sublimation paper. On the bright side, the color depth and scanning resolution are remarkable for capturing minute details of your photos.

Printing speed is very slow that annoyed me a lot with only 10 ppm for black and 5 ppm for color documents. The paper capacity of the printer is up to 100 sheets but thanks to the extendable hinges, we’re able to print photo-sized to legal-size papers.

When it comes to printing costs, beginners are always worried about it. Thanks to the remarkable super tank ink system, the cost per print is ideal for color, black, and photo printing. I was satisfied with the photo printing quality, but my eyes saw color accuracy fade you can check the image below.

photo printing quality
Printing results while testing

Connectivity options include Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, Ethernet, and USB. If you want to use your smartphone for printing, there is Mopria Print for Android users and Apple AirPrint for iOS devices. The Epson iPrint app is extremely handy with print, scan, and copy options directly from the application.

Advantages
  • Innovative Cartridge-Free Printing
  • Compact, lightweight & durable design
  • Exceptionally low cost-per-print
  • Two years limited warranty with registration
  • High black and color page yield
Disadvantages
  • Slow printing speed
  • No tech support if used with sublimation inks

2- Epson EcoTank ET-2760

Epson EcoTank ET-2760
  • Printing technology Inkjet
  • Connectivity technology Ethernet & USB
  • Compatible devices Smartphones, Laptops & PC
  • Printer weight 13.2 pounds

An excellent all-in-one printer with a remarkable ink system, the Epson EcoTank ET-2760 can print an incredible number of pages which makes it a perfect choice for beginners, students, and teachers.

Starting with the compact, space-saving design, the printer offers easy access to paper loading. The display screen of 1.44 inches has good vertical visibility for both standing and sitting people. Viewing angles didn’t impress me as I wasn’t able to check the screen from the side due to the little screen.

Thanks to the remarkable super tank ink system, this best beginner sublimation printer can yield an incredible number of black and color pages without any problem. The refillable tanks last longer than disposable cartridges and can be easily refilled with less effort.

Epson doesn’t include the warranty of the product if you use it with third-party sublimation inks. But we successfully used the printer with sublimation inks and it gave us optimal results. The print quality was mediocre but the sheet size was versatile I was able to print A-4 paper and photo-sized too.

A flatbed scanner offers great features for scanning single-sided sheets and fragile items. It comes with a software-based OCR mechanism which means you can save scanned media as searchable documents. There is no automatic document feeder, and you have to deal with double-sided scans manually.

Just like ET-2720, print speed is slow with only 10.5 ppm for monochrome and 5 ppm for color pages. However, the high resolution and color depth was impressive, and I didn’t find any problem with scanning items or scaling photos with very small details.

Another outstanding feature of Epson EcoTank ET-2760 is its great low cost per print for both color and black documents. The input paper tray has the same capacity as 2720 to facilitate 100 sheets. The bright side is its auto duplex printing which not only reduces paper waste and cost and saves your precious time but this feature cannot be utilized for sublimation papers as you have to only print one side of poly-coated.

Other notable features include decent color accuracy, various multiple options (USB & Ethernet), and Epson iPrint app compatibility for iOS and Android devices. Additionally, printing from an SD card is also included.

Advantages
  • Incredibly high page yields
  • Auto 2-sided Printing 
  • Voice-activated printing
  • Excellent low cost-per-print
  • 2-year limited warranty with registration
Disadvantages
  • Poor color accuracy

3- Sawgrass Virtuoso SG500 – The Real Sublimation Printer

Sawgrass-Virtuoso-SG500
  • Best for beginner sublimation business
  • Multiple connectivity options
  • Whole sublimation kit in the box
  • Creative studio compatible
  • Ultra-fine photo quality

Sawgrass has brought some dedicated sublimation printers to the market and SG500 is one of them. Sawgrass printers are primarily built for sublimation. Sawgrass S500 is the upgraded version of SG400 with improved resolution and printing quality. The body seems durable made from premium plastic. The LCD display is black and white which is not an appealing feature but easy to access with buttons.

There is no auto document feeder and scanning feature that disappointed me but thanks to the printing speed that boosted my productivity by printing 15 PPM with outstanding printing results. I was able to print polyester, ceramics, glass, pet tag, etc.

printing results of sg500
printing results of sg500

One of the admirable features that I liked the most is its auto maintenance mode which helps the printer clean the printhead thoroughly if there is an issue of clogging. Even if you don’t use the printer often it will retain the performance itself.

There is a single tray of paper sheets that can handle 100 sheets which is less capacity. Alongside, the printer is capable to print 8 by 14 inches maximum paper size but it can also print multiple sizes too. The most appealing feature is the Sawgrass SG500 is compatible with the bypass tray of the SG400. Using the SG400 bypass tray, the size of printing paper can be extended up to 8 by 51 inches that were handy for me to print baby blankets.

SG400 bypass tray
Bypass tray compatible

Further, the sawgrass print manager enabled me to adjust the 13 color profiles and accuracy management for different kinds of substrates including polyester, wood, acrylic, canvas, and ceramics too. Also, it helped to manage the setup and was compatible with Adobe and Corel draw too.

print manager
Sawgrass print manager

Other notable features are improved than the previous models including DPI resolution, 2 years of warranty, durable prints, built-in templates for sublimation, and a complete sublimation kit along with the printer.

The connectivity options include Wifi, USB, and Ethernet, but lack Bluetooth. The connectivity options are enabled to connect with smartphones, PCs, and laptops. Along with this, it has compatibility with Windows and MacBook too. The MacBook connectivity was not present in the SG400 but the SG 500 is upgraded to connect with MacBook too. In simple words, Sawgrass SG500 is the sublimation business in the box.

Advantages
  • Improved print quality
  • Backward SG400 bypass tray compatible
  • Multiple paper-size printing
  • Auto maintenance mode
  • Speedy printing
  • Multiple color profiles
  • Uses sawgrass Sublijet UHD inks
Disadvantages
  • Expensive running cost

4- Epson Premium EcoTank 4800

Epson Premium EcoTank 4800
  • Printing technology Inkjet
  • Connectivity technology Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, USB & Ethernet
  • Compatible devices Smartphones, Laptops & PC
  • Printer weight 11 pounds

If you are looking to save money in the long run, this all-in-one super tank printer is made for you. Epson Premium EcoTank 4800 is an updated version of Epson EcoTank ET-4700 with improved features. The printer is produced to print thousands of black and color pages before refilling large ink bottles of the super tank ink system.

The sturdy design offers quick access to ink cartridges. There are no extendable hinges, and paper jams are also difficult to manage. I was expecting a large display screen, but 1.44 inches screen disappointed me with hard readability. However, decent viewing angles and tilting functions offer a bit of convenience.

Epson super tank printers are excellent for beginners. There are four large refillable ink tanks compared to traditional cartridges, and they can print lots of black and color pages. Along with a flatbed scanner, Premium EcoTank 4800 has an automatic document feeder (30 sheets).

Also, you can raise the lid hinges to scan thicker items easily. You have to deal with the slow printing speed of only 5 ppm for color and 10 ppm for monochrome documents.

impressive printing quality

The cost per print is very low, thanks to the high page yield and affordable ink bottles. The printer input tray can hold up to 100 sheets which is decent for small offices and new users. Color accuracy and printing quality were really impressive, with detailed and sharp results. However, the default resolution of the printer is only 200DPI, which means you can’t expect high-quality results.

Using the official Epson Smart Panel app, users can directly scan, print, and copy from their smartphones. Also, this application allows you to start a printhead cleaning and check ink levels. Connectivity options include Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, USB & Ethernet. For mobile printing, there are Apple AirPrint and Mopria printing services available.

Advantages
  • Automatic Document Feeder
  • Innovative Cartridge-Free Printing
  • Incredibly low cost-per-print
  • Voice-activated printing
  • Various wireless printing options
Disadvantages
  • Prone to printhead clogging

5- Epson EcoTank ET-3850

Epson EcoTank ET-3850
  • Printing technology Inkjet
  • Connectivity technology Wi-Fi & USB
  • Compatible devices Smartphones, Laptops & PC
  • Printer weight 12.08 pounds

A printer that is perfect for different printing and scanning tasks, EcoTank ET-3860 is an updated version of the previous ET-3760. Offering a high page yield for black and color pages, this inkjet printer comes packed with all essential features for new sublimation freaks.

Manufactured from durable plastic material, the printer offers easy paper jam access with paper loading convenience. It has a relevantly large screen with 2.4 inches compared to the above-mentioned printers. However, the viewing angles are good with the front panel tilting option. 

This all-in-one printer has an excellent ink system with four refillable ink tanks. Thanks to the system, you can print thousands of color and black pages before refilling the ink tanks. There is an ink level checker available on the front side of the printer. The cost per print is exceptionally low with inexpensive ink bottles. If you are looking to print large volumes, Epson EcoTank ET-3850 is a perfect fit for your needs.

duplex printing

Scanning features are passable with a high-resolution flatbed scanner and an automatic document feeder. The good news is that you can easily extend the lid hinges to scan thick items like manuals or textbooks. The lack of duplex scanning makes it challenging to scan double-sided documents automatically. I liked the printed speed with 15.5 ppm for black and 8.5 ppm for color pages.

Another standout function is duplex printing to save paper and time. The paper tray has a capacity of 250 sheets which is ideal for large paper handling. Photo printing quality is acceptable, but color accuracy is poor, especially in the greens and blues. You can print and scan using an array of both wireless and wired connections.

The printer also connects with voice assistants like Amazon Alexa or Apple’s Siri for voice-activated printing. This beginner-friendly sublimation printer is compatible with the Epson Smart app to copy, scan and perform different maintenance tasks, including printhead cleaning or nozzle checking.

Advantages
  • Outstanding cost-per-print
  • Automatic document feeder
  • Impressive Print Quality 
  • Auto duplex printing
  • It comes with four free ink bottles
Disadvantages
  • Poor color accuracy

6- Epson EcoTank ET-4760

Epson EcoTank ET-4760
  • Printing technology Inkjet
  • Connectivity technology Wi-Fi & USB
  • Compatible devices Smartphones, Laptops & PC
  • Printer weight 19.61 pounds

A sublimation beast with a super tank ink system, low cost per print, and various connectivity options, Epson EcoTank ET-4760, is a decent choice for those who are new to the sublimation universe. The build quality is durable, and the design is simple with a removable cord for convenient storage. Get the best cheap sublimation printers.

The extendable scanner hinges allow the scanning of a magazine or a thin book. It has 2.4 inches color touch-sensitive screen with two physical buttons located on the control panel for quick access to the home and helps menus. Viewing angles aren’t good at all, but the tilting function helps in better visibility.

As expected, the super tank ink system is incredibly effective, thanks to its large high, capacity ink tanks. There are no traditional cartridges used, and the ink tank is easy to refill at an inexpensive price. However, these tanks can hold ink for a remarkably long time. Don’t use third-party inks to refill the tanks as they can damage print heads and may void the warranty.

impressive photo printing quality

The combination of a flatbed scanner and ADF (automatic document feeder) makes it super efficient to scan multi documents. If there was an automatic duplex available, that would be a great addition. However, you have to flip over pages to scan double-sided pages. The bright side is you can adjust the width sliders in the input tray for a variety of paper sizes. You can print from 3.5 inches x 5 inches to 8.5 inches to 47 inches paper sizes. 

The automatic document feeder can hold up to 30 sheets, and the paper tray has the capacity to facilitate up to 250 sheets. Printing speed is decent, with 15 ppm for black and 8 ppm for color documents. I am in love with the remarkably low cost per print as I have frequent regular sessions to perform. To be honest, neither color accuracy nor photo printing quality impressed me. 

There is wireless connectivity available for hands-free printing and a USB port for direct printing from external devices. Lastly, there is Epson iPrint app available to print, scan and copy from the app and maintenance tasks like checking ink levels, printhead cleaning, and firmware updates.

Advantages
  • Innovative Cartridge-Free Printing
  • Excellent low cost-per-print
  • Automatic document feeder & flatbed scanner
  • Auto duplex printing
  • Voice-activated printing
Disadvantages
  • No Automatic duplex scan

7- Sawgrass SG1000 

Sawgrass SG1000
  • Top-notch print quality
  • Own maintenance duty cycle
  • Allows designs from Adobe
  • Ideal for business
  • Fast printing speed

The Sawgrass SG1000 is a professional sublimation printer to start a dedicated sublimation business. The body of the printer is usually same built from premium plastic that is durable. The control panel contains a monochrome  LCD display that is not appealing and can be managed with buttons. With the hefty price tag, the Sawgrass SG1000 is considered a business sublimation printer that is easy to be utilized.

The print quality was superb as the SG500 with high resolution and improved DPI. The prints were super clear and the color accuracy was also exceptional. I was able to select the type of substrate from the sawgrass print manager. And the color profiles for each substrate were robust and optimal.

Also, the sawgrass print manager allowed me to create designs from third-party software like Adobe and Corel Draw.

There was no Auto document feeder present in the printer but the printing speed was passable that helped me a lot to use the printer ease. Further, the auto maintenance mode was also handy to clean the clogs from the printhead and ink lines. Even though I didn’t use the printer often but the software maintained the printer excellently. Also, the scanning feature was missing in the printer.

Both models SG500 and SG1000 use Sawgrass Sublijet UHD ink cartridges, you can use the same cartridges in both models and both produce elegant designs. One of the most appealing features of both models is the compatibility with Creative studio which allowed me to upload my own customized fonts and provided me with many editable templates that I used as a background.

Difference between sawgrass sg500 and 1000

The only main difference between SG500 and 1000 is the printing paper size though the sheet capacity is the same which is 100. SG500 is able to print only 8 by 14 inches maximum and 8 by 51 inches with the bypass tray. Whereas SG100 is able to print 11 by 17 inches and with the extended paper tray it will be able to print a maximum of 13 by 19 which is a very large size. Along with the bypass tray, you can produce prints up to 13 by 51 inches.

But being a beginner, I won’t suggest you use the printer with the bypass tray as the SG1000’s tray is able to print wide prints. You can check the image below for extending the paper tray.

paper tray of SG1000
Extendable paper tray
paper tray of SG 1000
Wide paper tray

The connectivity options are the same in both printers including wifi, USB, and ethernet, You can connect your smartphones, windows, and Apple products too.

Is it a good choice for starters?

Well, the price tag is ripping off but it can be a good kickstart for your sublimation business. But being a beginner, I would suggest selecting the SG500 because there is no big difference between SG1000 and SG500 but the only sheet size is.

Advantages
  • For heavy-duty business
  • Best print quality
  • Large print size
  • The paper tray is extendable
  • Choose the type of substrates accordingly
  • Multiple color management system
Disadvantages
  • Expensive to buy

A Guide For A Beginner To Know More About Sublimation

  • You must need to choose a printer that utilizes a piezo printhead to print on sublimation and most of the time we use Epson.
  • You can’t print cotton material other than polyester if using an Epson printer but with Sawgrass printers it is possible to print cotton stuff using forever subli light. You can also read about the best sublimation printers for t-shirts.
  • For printing on dark colors other than the light color garments, you just need to bleach the specific part of the design to get sublimation. If not, then you need to use the Siser easysubli.
  • For printing other than garments, you should look for a substrate that is polymer-coated to hold the sublimation ink.
  • The cartridge-free printer is the best starter sublimation printer because it is easy to refill and cuts off the cartridge cost.

How to find the best beginner sublimation printer- The buying guide

As a beginner, you shouldn’t dive into the printer’s ocean before having a piece of accurate information about the sublimation process and sublimation printers. Let’s explore the sublimation universe briefly.

Sublimation printer vs. standard printer

A sublimation printer is different from other printers in many ways as an ordinary printer cannot do sublimation. Sublimation printers have improved printing quality as they can produce high-quality prints with minute details and high Dpi resolution.

Compared to typical printers, the best sublimation printer produces a print with high color saturation with dot printing. You can easily achieve high-quality glossy prints, which is not possible with standard printers.

The best part about sublimation printing is that these prints don’t fade or wash out. You can print on different substrates and materials with sublimation printers, including ceramics, glass, wood, acrylic, and polyester material. On the other hand, standard printers can print only on printing photo paper.

Another prominent difference between a standard printer and a sublimation printer is that a sublimation printer prints on different sizes of surfaces. Using a wide format sublimation printer, users can easily print on desired sizes regardless of the dimensions. Sublimation printers can be used with sublimation ink which standard printers can’t.


Epson Vs Sawgrass For Beginners

Well, Epson printers are less costly to get started with sublimation. But they require two steps to convert them into sublimation. Their running cost is also low along with the initial buying price.

Epson printers come in 2 different types that include one with cartridge-free refilled ink containers and the second one equipped with cartridges. Epson Ecotank series, WF, and some of the Surecolor printers can be used for sublimation. But most of the time, we use Ecotank printers because they are easy to use. The biggest disadvantage of using these printers is that the company voids the warranty if we use it with dye ink.

In contrast, Sawgrass sub-printers are specially designed for sublimation. They don’t require any steps to get them converted. They utilize sawgrass Sublijet UHD cartridges other than refillable cartridges and ink tanks. The initial cost of buying a sawgrass sublimation printer is also high but can be equal to some of the high-end Epson printers.

Besides, the running cost is also high because sawgrass sub-printer cartridges are hell expensive. But they allow us to print versatile substrates via the print manager.


Essential factors to consider

Essential factors to consider

Here are essential features of a sublimation printer you must consider before buying.

1- Printing Quality

No one wants to compromise on the quality of the print, especially in the sublimation because many beginners get confused when the prints come out of the printer dull on the sublimation paper. That’s why you need to find a printer with ideal color accuracy and clarity.

Select a printer with at least 300 Dpi to start sublimation. However, the high the resolution, the better it will be. Don’t forget to consider the ink quality for exceptional printing results. 

2- Printing speed

Inkjet printers are not known for their fast printing speed, but for sublimation, you have to stay within the inkjet printers. Remember, the printing speed is different for monochrome and color documents. Black and white documents are fast printed type than color documents. Make sure to choose a printer with at least 10 ppm (pages per minute) for black & white and up to 8 ppm for color pages.

3- Connectivity options

A printer with multiple connections is beneficial in many ways. Sometimes you don’t have a USB to print directly from an external source, and you need wireless connectivity to print from your smartphone or tablet. Make sure the sublimation printer you choose comes with Ethernet, wireless, and USB connectivity options more preferred with NFC too.

Bluetooth connectivity is handy, but it’s rarely found in beginner sublimation printers due to the low budget factor. Wi-Fi direct and Cloud printing are other useful additions available with modern sublimation printers.

4- Paper tray

A printer having a large paper tray allows printing a large number of documents without refilling the sheets. Of course, you don’t want to re-feed the tray often. Typically, printers have 100 sheets capacity trays but if you want to avoid printing inconvenience, rather than I suggest going with WF printers which contain multiple paper sheets that can handle 250 to 500 paper sheets.

5- Auto document feeder 

Do you have time to manually add the papers individually? I bet neither you have the time nor you want to do so. That’s where you need the auto document feeder function in your sublimation printer. ADF not only helps to save time and energy but reduces printing costs.

6- Additional features

The display is one of the critical features of a printer. Small screens (1.44 inches to 2.44 inches) provide difficult visibility and don’t have a touch function. A large touchscreen color display with tilting is great for clear visibility and quick navigation.

Make sure the printer allows quick and easy access to paper jams because you may suffer frequent paper jams.

Extendable scanner hinges are useful to scan thicker media like magazines and books. Sheet size should also be versatile to print different sizes of photos on different-size substrates.

Voice-activated printing is a great addition to hands-free printing. Just ask your printer sitting on the sofa with the smartphone in the hand, and it will print your documents quickly.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long does a sublimation print last?

In sublimation, the inks are chemically bonded to the material and decorated items, and therefore, sublimation prints are permanent and washable.

Which is better, sublimation or heat transfer?

If you are dealing with white or light-colored polyester, sublimation is best for you. Heat transfer works best on any color or material type. Heat transfer is not the winner in terms of durability though sublimation is a conqueror. You can check the best sublimation printer for heat transfer.

What happens if I sublimate on cotton material?

Sublimation on cotton is not a good idea as the sublimation will wash out of it. It is due to the fact that synthetic sublimation dye doesn’t chemically bond with the cotton fibers.


Final words

It’s challenging to print your artwork on different materials, especially when you are new to the field. Thanks to sublimation printers for beginners, printing on mugs, T-shirts, canvas, and other materials is an effortless task. For a beginner, it can be frustrating to achieve desired results at the beginning, but once you get used to it, sublimation printing is a fun activity.

All you need is to find the right sublimation printer for your needs and start printing. Still, confused about which beginner sublimation printer to pick? Here are the quick recommendations:

  • Sawgrass SG500
  • Epson EcoTank 3850
  • Epson EcoTank 4800

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