Best Sublimation Printer For T-Shirts | For Dark & Cotton

You are ready to showcase your creative abilities and make money with T-shirt sublimation printing, but suddenly, you realize you can’t do anything without the best quality printer. Yes, it’s annoying to cross the main hurdle between you and your goals. Don’t worry; there was a time when I went through a similar situation.

I thought a typical printer would be enough for T-shirt sublimation, but I was wrong. I discussed it with my friend, and he told me you need the best sublimation printer for t-shirts. In a hurry? Get the top pick on our list, Sawgrass SG500 is our top pick equipped with highly defined cartridges that will allow you to sublimate versatile materials.

Want an affordable choice along with cartridge-free printing? Grab the Epson ET-3760 with an affordable running cost. And if you want full convenience then there is no best option than ET-15000 to print all sizes of t-shirts.

best sublimation printer for t-shirts.

To be honest, I failed to find the right best printer for t-shirts for my needs for some time. However, failure always leads to success, and the same happened to me. I and my friend tested printers, went through countless platforms to check user reviews, spent hours on research, and compared printer features and prices to select a high-quality sublimation printer for t-shirts.

Best Sublimation Printer for T-shirts- Top Quality Sublimation Printers for 2024

Sawgrass sg500 printer
Sawgrass sg500
  • Effortless navigation
  • Ensure optimal quality 
  • Offered Easy printing
  • Super tank system
  • 30-sheet ADF 
  • Wi-Fi, USB u0026amp; Ethernet
  • Convenient ADF
  • Low-cost printing
  • intensive connectivity

Image Product Name Benefits Price
Top Pick
Epson EcoTank ET-2850
1- Epson EcoTank ET-2850
  • Duplex printing
  • Affordable
  • Excellent printing speed
  • Decent print quality
Epson EcoTank ET-2800
2- Epson EcoTank ET-2800
  • Ink level pop-up
  • High res scanning
  • Fine print quality
  • Voice-activated printing
Sawgrass SG500
3- Sawgrass SG500
  • Automatic maintenance
  • Effortless navigation
  • Ensure optimal quality
  • Offering starter inks
Epson EcoTank ET-3760
4- Epson EcoTank ET-3760
  • Automatic document feeder
  • Good printing quality
  • Intensive connectivity
  • Low-cost printing
Epson EcoTank Photo ET-8500
5- Epson Supertank 8500
  • Micro Piezo Printing
  • Photographic prints
  • Epson iPrint app
  • Super fast printing
6- Epson EcoTank ET-15000
  • Super tank system
  • Large Format prints
  • Dense printing
  • 30-sheet ADF
Epson WorkForce WF-7720
7- Epson WorkForce WF-7720
  • Small business use
  • Extendable paper lids
  • Decent printing speed
  • Double paper tray
Epson EcoTank ET-4700
8- Epson EcoTank ET-4700 
  • Lightweight
  • Portable
  • Cost-effective
  • Acceptable vibrant colors
Epson Workforce Pro WF-7840
9- Epson Workforce Pro WF-7840
  • Large paper handling
  • 50-sheet ADF
  • Larger Display
  • Passable print quality
pson Workforce Pro WF-4830
10- Epson Workforce Pro WF-4830
  • Spectacular printing
  • High-capacity cartridges
  • 50-sheet ADF
  • Wireless connections

1. Epson EcoTank ET-2850- best affordable sublimation printer for shirts

Epson EcoTank ET-2850
  • Low cost per print
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Affordable to buy
  • Wonderful print quality
  • Visible ink tanks

Compact, lightweight, and portable, the Epson ET-2850 all-in-one printer is an excellent cost-effective solution for sublimation printing. Featuring a durable plastic body, the printer comes with a simple design that offers convenient access to produce quality prints.

The display screen (1.44 inches) is small with decent viewing angles and offers to tilt for comfortable viewing. There is no touchscreen function, I used physical buttons to navigate through the menu.

Equipped with a remarkable super tank system, ET-2850 has four high-capacity ink tanks. You don’t need to replace the removable cartridges like typical cartridge printers. The best part is you can easily refill the large ink tanks effortlessly even without squeezing.

Filling sublimation ink in the ink tanks
Filling sublimation ink in the ink tanks

This cartridge-free system allows printing a high number of copies before refilling the tanks. I tried to fill the super tank with third-party sublimation ink Hiipoo but used it carefully as it could damage the print head.

Scanning features are passable with no automatic document feeder, which means you have to handle multi-page documents manually. The bright side is its duplex printing which is useful to print large-volume documents consistently which is missing in ET-2800 but is not suitable for sublimation though you can utilize copy and scan via flatbed.

The input sheet capacity is 100 sheets which is relevantly low as compared to contemporary printers but thanks to the different sizes of media handling. We loved the outstanding low cost per print as it helped us to save a handsome amount. This sublimation printer offered us 10 ppm for black & white and up to 8 ppm for color documents.

When it comes to printing quality, the printer has decent quality, but color accuracy is not something we were expecting from the best printer brand like Epson but passable for mediocre sublimation blanks. Connectivity features include Wi-Fi, AirPrint for iOS, and Mopria for Android devices Siri can also be connected.

the printer has decent quality
the printer has decent quality

There is no Bluetooth support, but it allows printing directly from your memory card. Epson iPrint is always useful for direct printing, scanning, and performing different maintenance tasks. 

  • Remarkable super tank ink system
  • Voice-activated printing
  • Great low cost per print
  • Compact and lightweight design
  • Comes with a one-year limited warranty
  • No auto document feeder

2. Epson EcoTank ET-2800- cheapest sublimation printer for t-shirts

Epson EcoTank ET-2800
  • Updated than its predecessors
  • Saves huge costs
  • Easy to use and portable
  • Cartridge less system
  • We printed 3,000 flawlessly

Another EcoTank Epson printer for a wide range of uses, The ET-2800 offers an excellent low cost per print, thanks to the remarkable super tank cartridge-free system the printing system is similar to the above-mentioned 2850 but has a slight difference in appearance and pricing.

Starting with the mediocre build quality due to having the lowest price, this t-shirt printer has an ordinary display with easy-to-access ink tanks and paper loading. If you want more cheap printers then read the best cheap sublimation printer. You can read the comparison between Epson 2800 vs 2803.

Overall the printer is compact and lightweight with a 1.44-inch small color display. You can tilt up the screen for a better viewing angle. There is no touchscreen option, and you have to use push buttons around the small screen.

What makes the ET-2800 an outstanding sublimation printer is its fabulous super tank cartridge-free system. It features four high-capacity ink tanks that can print many black and color pages before refilling needs. One handy function to keep an eye on the ink tanks is its pop-up message that keeps you informed about ink levels.

The cost per print is simply amazing for both black and color documents. I didn’t admire the scanning features as there is only a flatbed scanner with no double-sided scanning option but copy option is also available similar to the ET-2850.

One of the best features of this Epson sublimation printer for t-shirts is its high scanning resolution along with color depth. It helps to capture minute details in your photos and fine-quality print in scanned documents.

Epson EcoTank ET-2720 color depth.
Printing result on the T-shirt

The adjustable input feed can hold up to 100 sheets. Printing speed is relevantly slow, with 10 ppm for black and 5 ppm for color pages so the slow print speed may annoy you. However, the printer is not suitable for heavy-duty and fast sublimation printing but can be passable for mediocre t-shirt printing due to slow printing.

Our team wasn’t satisfied with the color accuracy, but printing quality was something acceptable on the t-shirts you can have a look at the above image. Another standout feature of the Epson ET-2800 is voice-activated printing. The printer is compatible with the iPrint app to directly print and scan from your Apple smartphone.

If you are using an iOS device, you can use Apple AirPrint, and Mopria Print is available for Android devices. Connectivity options include Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and USB too.

  • Compact and lightweight design
  • Innovative Cartridge-Free Printing
  • Exceptionally low cost-per-print
  • Great High black and color page yield
  • Voice-activated printing
  • No duplex printing

3. Sawgrass SG500- best sublimation printer for dark & Cotton shirts

Sawgrass SG500
  • Best for cotton and dark fabric
  • Support best color profiles
  • Versatile print manager
  • Best for heavy-duty sublimation work
  • Impressive results

A high-quality sublimation printer with innovative features, Sawgrass SG500, is an excellent choice for commercial printing tasks and hobbyists. The compact-sized desktop printer is designed specifically for sublimation projects.

Featuring a durable plastic body, this printer comes with a unique automatic maintenance mechanism for trouble-free printing and it proved really helpful while testing the product because we didn’t clean the printhead because it was cleaned automatically. Additionally, it also cleaned the clogs of the sublimation ink in the printhead.

Its 2.4-inch LED-backlit display offers excellent viewing angles along with effortless navigation through the menu. But the old-schooled LED is not touchscreen and I navigated with buttons. 

The Sawgrass printer supports Sublijet Ultra HD Ink to provide ultimate high-resolution results that cost us very highly because the Sublijet HD ink cartridges are quite expensive. It also comes with Sublijet Ultra HD ink cartridges including 20ml Cyan, Yellow, Magenta, and black cartridges.

The Sawgrass printer supports Sublijet Ultra HD Ink to provide ultimate high-resolution results.
vivid printing

One standout feature that makes sublimation printing straightforward is the Sawgrass print manager. This printer manager automatically makes all adjustments for you to ensure optimal quality. Along with this, it allowed me to print almost 13 types of substrates including on dark shirts using the substrate material Siser white glitter. You can print the dark and cotton fabric using the sawgrass print manager.

Sawgrass print manager to print on dark, black, and cotton t-shirts
Sawgrass print manager to print on dark, black, and cotton t-shirts

It works in the background to manage the flow of color information from digital artwork to the Sawgrass printer. Such a procedure not only ensures the reduction of ink waste but also provides accurate variation.

The input tray offers a sheet capacity of 100 pages. The printer doesn’t have automatic printing or scanning features, which is disappointing. The print field size is 8.5×14 inches if you want to use a large format of 13×19 inches then you need to choose SG 1000 which comes with a bypass tray.

You can use SG500 to decorate products manufactured from polyester fabrics or polymer-coated hard substrates, including hardboard and wood plaques, aluminum panels and inserts, tiles, slates, acrylic, glass, reinforced fiberglass plastic, and polyester fabric. Last but not least, Sawgrass is offering starter ink cartridges with this t-shirt sublimation printer. After that, you’ll need to buy the ink cartridges.

  • Auto maintenance mechanism
  • Delivers a wide range of colors 
  • 2-Year Product Warranty & In-house Support
  • Improved LED Backlit Display
  • Ultra Fine Photo Print Quality 
  • No duplex printing

4. Epson EcoTank ET-3760

Epson EcoTank ET-3760
  • Printing Technology Inkjet
  • Connectivity Technology Wi-Fi, USB & Ethernet
  • Compatible devices PC & Laptops
  • Print output Color

An inkjet printer by Epson with a refillable tank system, an incredible print yield for color, and monochrome documents, EcoTank ET-3760, is a decent choice for sublimation. The plastic body feels durable with a visible ink level indicator.

The 2.4-inch color display features physical buttons located on each side of the screen. You can easily navigate through the menu and tilt the screen for better visibility. However, the viewing angles were not according to our expectations.

This Epson sublimation printer comes with a great super tank ink system. There are four high-capacity ink tanks that can be easily refilled at home. One of the best features of this cartridge-free system is that it allows printing a high number of prints before refilling.

here are four high-capacity ink tanks that can be easily refilled at home
Ink tanks of ET-3760 with specialized ink tubes to make refilling easy.

Additionally, the printer is compatible with third-party sublimation refillable cartridges. Thanks to the innovative ink-free printing system, the cost per print is amazingly low. Also, I often use it with a vinyl cutter Cricut to use the print-then-cut feature.

The flatbed scanner is decent for scanning fragile family Polaroids. Its sheetfed scanner has an automatic document feeder to process documents quickly. The downside of the scanner is that it lacks duplex scanning, and you have to handle double-sided documents manually. The automatic document can hold up to 30 sheets, whereas the front input tray has a capacity of 150 pages.

We got that ET-3760 can print 15 ppm monochrome and up to 10 ppm color documents. I admired the photo printing quality, but color accuracy didn’t get our attention. The printer has many connectivity options, including Wi-Fi, USB, and Ethernet.

. I admired the photo printing quality,
Print Quality

There is no SD card or Bluetooth option. For mobile printing and hands-free maintenance, the printer has the Epson iPrint app, Apple AirPrint for iOS, and Mopria printing for android users.

  • Prominent ink level indicator
  • Incredibly low cost-per-print
  • Automatic document feeder
  • Auto duplex printing
  • Good photo printing quality
  • Bad color accuracy

5. Epson EcoTank Photo ET-8500

  • Printing Technology Inkjet
  • Connectivity Technology Wi-Fi, USB & Ethernet
  • Compatible devices PC & Laptops
  • Print output Color 

Powered by Micro Piezo variable-sized droplet technology, the EcoTank ET-8500 all-in-one printer comes with six colors of Claria ET to produce excellent black & white and color photographic prints. Designed with a bit bulky white plastic body, this color printer is an ideal choice for home businesses.

The elegant 4.3-inch color touch panel display offers effortless navigation through the menu and can be tilted according to the usage requirements. Overall the design is simple with no fancy appearance.

Equipped with a super tank cartridge-free system, the printer offers exceptional low cost per print without compromising on the print quality. The large ink tanks can be refilled easily and print a large number of color sublimation prints before refilling needs. Its high-resolution flatbed scanner is a great addition to scan double-sided documents automatically but who cares for the double-sided when it comes to sublimation? 

There is no automatic document feeder, I printed the images manually one by one but the printing speed for color pages was decent which is 12 PPM which helped me to stay productive. The front loading tray can handle 100 sheets easily, which is perfect for large-volume handling.

The printer tray is versatile and you’ll see the two input trays in a single drawer to print various sizes. However, if you want to print wide formats then go with the ET-8550. More you can read the comparison between ET-8500 vs 8550.

One perfect match for the sublimation printing is its decent color accuracy with good photo print quality, which was absent in other printers. Additionally, auto 2-sided printing helps to save money and time. 

One perfect match of the sublimation printer is its decent color accuracy with good photo print quality
Fine art photo quality

When it comes to connectivity, with Epson ET-8500, you can connect the printer with USB, Ethernet, and Wi-Fi for wireless printing. I also printed images from smartphones and cameras via an SD card reader.

The last notable feature is the Epson iPrint app for mobile printing and maintenance tasks like printhead cleaning.

  • Voice-activated printing
  • Full-Color Touch Panel Display
  • Exceptional print quality
  • Low cost per print
  • Duplex printing
  • No rear document feeder

6. Epson EcoTank ET-15000- best Epson sublimation printer for t-shirts

 Epson EcoTank ET-15000
  • Can sublimate 13×19 inches t-shirts
  • Affordable to run for sublimation
  • Enough paper capacity
  • Fast printing
  • Easy-to-manage overall

With adjustable sliders to handle different paper sizes, front, and rear input trays, and durable build quality, Epson EcoTank ET-15000 is a sublimation-ready printer for versatile use. The plastic body is durably built with extendable hinges for thicker media and versatile size media. Although, ET-15000 is one of my favorite printers I often use it to print wood sublimation and other type of substrates other than T-shirt printing.

The design is bulky and takes a decent space on your table, not to forget the heavyweight. This sublimation printer for T-shirts has a 2.7-inch color touchscreen. You can easily tilt the screen vertically for sitting or standing convenience. However, the viewing angles were quite annoying from the sides.

The ET-15000 sublimation printer comes with an excellent super tank system. It has four large ink tanks to deliver a higher page yield than a typical cartridge system. Technically, you can refill the printer tanks with any third-party ink, but it may damage the print head and also void the warranty.

The cost per print is exceptionally low, with a high black page yield. If you are looking to print a large volume of documents, ET-15000 is the perfect option for your needs.

One of the best features of this Epson sublimation printer for t-shirts is its fast printing speed. It offers 17 ppm for black & white and up to 13 ppm for color documents. Although the printer can print double-sided automatically; you need to turn over large-sized documents manually.

Paper handling includes 250 sheets of the input tray, 35 pages of the automatic document feeder, and 20 pages of the rear input tray.

Photo printing quality is decent with poor color accuracy. Another standout feature of the ET-15000 sublimation-ready printer is its voice-activated printing that allows printing a variety of projects. This unit offers versatile connectivity options, including Ethernet and Wi-Fi.

Photo printing quality is decent with poor color accuracy.
color accuracy

There is no USB, SD card, or Bluetooth connectivity available. Just like other Epson printers, the Epson iPrint app allows printing, scanning, and maintenance tasks from your smartphone.

  • Sheetfed and flatbed scanner
  • Excellent high page yield
  • Sublimation ready printer
  • Cartridge free printing
  • Duplex printing


  • No duplex scanning

7. WorkForce WF-7720

Epson WorkForce WF-7720
  • Printing Technology Inkjet
  • Connectivity Technology Wi-Fi, USB & Ethernet
  • Compatible devices PC & Laptops
  • Print output Color

A well-designed printer for family and small business use, the Epson WorkForce WF-7720 comes packed with amazing features. The first thing that got my attention was its remarkable design with highly durable built quality. Paper jams are effortless to handle, and extendable lids are handy for printing thicker items.

Its 4.3-inch color touchscreen provides ultra-clear visibility with audible feedback. For additional convenience, you can tilt the screen upwards for better visibility.

Equipped with a decent inkjet cartridge system, the Epson WF-7720 has three separate color cartridges along with that the third-party ink cartridge chipset is capable to be resetting which is a plus point to buying it.

The combined page yield is passable, but the black cartridge performance is poor. Fortunately, there is a high capacity, and extra high capacity versions of its black cartridge are available, which last longer than the original inks. Besides pricy inks, the cost per print is excellent. 

Scanning features are superb with flatbed and sheetfed scanners. The printer comes with both an automatic document feeder (35 sheets) and duplex scanning. Printing speed is decent, with 18 ppm for black & white and 10 ppm for color documents. I also liked the paper handling with two paper trays that can facilitate 500 sheets.

I also liked the paper handling with two paper trays that can facilitate 500 sheets, the photo printing quality is good with vibrant colors
Featuring the paper capacity and print quality while testing

The WF-7720 has disappointing color accuracy, but the photo printing quality is good with vibrant colors. When it comes to connectivity, Epson printers never disappoint us. This sublimation printer has Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, and USB.

For mobile printing, you can use AirPrint (iOS) and Mopria (Android) along with Epson iPrint app to scan, print, and perform maintenance tasks, including new ink orders from home.

  • Automatic duplex printing and scanning
  • Automatic document feeder
  • Large sheet capacity
  • Durable build quality
  • Low cost per print
  • Disappointing color accuracy

8. Epson EcoTank ET-4700 

Epson EcoTank ET-4700
  • Printing Technology Inkjet
  • Connectivity Technology Wi-Fi & Ethernet
  • Compatible devices PC & Laptops
  • Print output Color

Thanks to its ultra-compact design and EcoTank system, ET-4700 is a perfect choice for new businesses and small offices. The design is simple, with easy access to paper jams and ink tanks. It also allows for extending the scanner lid for larger items like magazines and books.

Offering lightweight for effortless portability, this top-rated printer has a decent display panel (1.44 inches), offering good visibility for seated and standing persons. For additional convenience, you can tilt the screen vertically.

The Supertank cartridge-free system is excellent because that has four large capacity ink tanks to yield a lot of black and color pages. The cost per print was expectedly low. One unique benefit we found was that the printer is a cost-effective solution for photo printing.

One unique benefit we found was that the printer is a cost-effective solution for photo printing.
Low cost per print with vibrancy

Another impressive feature was the flatbed scanner with a 30-page automatic document feeder to process paper documents quickly. 

Unfortunately, duplex scanning is missing, which is one major downside for double-sided scanning documents. Printing speed is disappointingly slow, with only 10 ppm for black & white and ppm for color documents. Color accuracy and photo printing quality are acceptable vibrant colors. Paper handling includes 100 sheet input, but there is no rear tray added to the printer.

Epson ET-4700 can be connected with an Ethernet connection and Wi-Fi for wireless printing. Apple users can utilize AirPrint, and Android users can use the Mopria Print service for mobile printing. Install the Epson iPrint app on your tablet, smartphone, or laptop to print, copy and scan photos directly from the app. This handy software allows you to perform different maintenance tasks efficiently.

  • Great page yield
  • Excellent low cost per print
  • Auto Document Feeder
  • Comes with 4 ink bottles
  • 2-year limited warranty
  • Slow printing speed

9. Epson Workforce Pro WF-7840

Epson Workforce Pro WF-7840
  • Printing Technology Inkjet
  • Connectivity Technology Wi-Fi & Ethernet
  • Compatible devices PC & Laptops
  • Print output Color

With large paper handling capacity, an auto duplex, and great scanning features, WF-7840 by Epson is a perfect sublimation printer for t-shirts. With fantastic build quality, bulkier design, and heavyweight, this wide printer is different from other printers in many ways. A large 4.3 inches touchscreen comes with touch-sensitive buttons and four shortcut buttons.

Although vertical visibility is superb, we were not satisfied with the viewing angles from both sides. To be honest, the cartridge system of this Epson printer is just okay as it can’t print black ink pages and may need to replace the inks quite often.

The bright side is that it can yield a higher number of color documents, and you don’t need to replace the color cartridges frequently. For additional convenience, you can purchase high-yield cartridges from the market. But those compatible cartridges won’t be able to reset the chip which is very disappointing. So I suggest getting a CISS ink system with it rather than replacing the cartridges each time.

If you don’t want to utilize the CISS system simply replace the chips from the refillable cartridges and place the original chips that arrived with the printer, apply with the strong glue and you’re good to go! You can apply this trick on all of the WF printers which don’t have compatible refillable cartridge chipsets.

 Color accuracy and print quality are both passable.
While printing the sublimation paper

The great low cost per print is admirable, but it may increase with color printing. There is a flatbed scanner combined with an automatic document feeder to hold 50 sheets. I tried lifting the hinges for thicker items and found them ultra-convenient. Additionally, the lid of the scanner stays open on its own. The scanner also offers copy and fax functions. WorkForce Pro

WF-7840 provides a speed of 25 ppm for black & white and 12 ppm for color printing. Paper handling is another thing that got our attention with 500 sheets capacity (two trays for 250 sheets each). Also, it can print double-sided documents to prevent manual handling hassle. Color accuracy and print quality are both passable.

This all-in-one inkjet printer has decent connectivity options, including wireless, USB, and Ethernet. For mobile printing, you can use the Epson iPrint app to print, copy, and scan from your smartphone.

  • Fast printing speed
  • Automatic double-sided printing
  • Automatic document feeder
  • Control Panel Lock and Password Encryption
  • Best for heavy workloads
  • No Bluetooth support

10. Epson Workforce Pro WF-4830-  best sublimation printer for cotton shirts

Epson Workforce Pro WF-4830
  • Printing Technology Inkjet
  • Connectivity Technology Wi-Fi, USB & Ethernet
  • Compatible devices PC Smartphone & Laptops
  • Print output Color

The last printer for sublimation is the WorkForce Pro WF-4830 offers spectacular printing and scanning performance. Whether you are looking to digitalize old photos of your family or want to print t-shirts, this best sublimation printer is a great option for your needs.

Build quality is remarkable with convenient paper jam access and ink cartridge replacement. Not only the scanner lid stay open on its own, but also you can lift the hinges to fit thicker items easily. It has a 4.3-inch touchscreen display with decent visibility. The viewing angles were not convincing, but we tilted the screen vertically for our convenience. 

The cartridge system can yield a good number of color pages, but its black cartridge yield is poor, and you have to replace them too often. There are three color cartridges which means you don’t need to replace them all at once when changing the empty ones.

On the bright side, you can easily find high-capacity cartridges that last longer. The cost per print is excellent but may increase if you print color documents frequently. One of the most appealing aspects of the printer is its outstanding scanning features.

The flatbed scanner is a great option to digitalize old photos, and the 50-sheet automatic document feeder performs duplex scanning to make two-sided document scanning hassle-free. You can also copy and fax with WF-4830.

There are two input trays to hold 500 sheets (250 each) for large document handling. It offers a fast printing speed of 25 ppm for black and 12 ppm for color pages. 

Epson WorkForce Pro WF-4830 has decent print quality and good color accuracy with vibrant colors. You can print using wireless connections and a USB for external storage. There is no Bluetooth or SD card slot available.

Download Epson iPrint on your smartphone to print, copy and scan quickly. Additionally, the app can be used for printhead cleaning, alignment, checking ink levels, and buying ink directly from the app.

  • Fast printing speed
  • Auto double-scanning and printing
  • Automatic document feeder
  • Low cost per print
  • Control Panel Lock and Password Encryption
  • Poor black page yield

How to find the right sublimation printer for t-shirts- The buying guide

Sublimation printing is different from other printing methods, and therefore choosing a sublimation printer for t-shirts needs proper understanding and research. Here are critical aspects of sublimation printers that can help to make the right choice from available options.

1. What is Sublimation?

Sublimation is the procedure of transferring dye onto different types of materials. A design or image is created on a computer, and then it is printed onto sublimation paper with the help of sublimation ink and a printer.

This printed design is then placed on the desired material, including a hood, mug, socks, t-shirt, etc., and utilizing a heat transfer, the design is transferred permanently to the material using pressure and heat. However, you can check the best sublimation printer for heat transfer.

The t-shirt material must be polyester in order to absorb the sublimation ink. Other than t-shirts, you need to utilize the polyester coat on the hard substrates to get the sublimation done.

The process may seem complicated for beginners, but it isn’t complicated at all.

Essential factors to consider before buying a sublimation printer for t-shirts

Essential factors to consider before buying a sublimation printer for t-shirts

Let’s take a look at the important features of a sublimation printer.

1. Printing speed

Sublimation printers may print the slow ppm if you choose the large prints for t-shirts. Although there are some sublimation printers listed above that will provide you with a decent speed to save time. The ideal printing speed can be between 8 to 15 PPM depending on your printing needs.

2. Print Quality

The print quality is essential to get your vibrant personalized images sublimated on the t-shirts. Make sure to set the DPI according to the size of the paper. And also make sure after some time, fill the ink tanks or cartridges before they get run out of ink. Also, configure the media settings according to the paper type.

3. Paper handling

How many times do you want to refill the paper tray of the printer? Of course, you don’t want to repeat the process after a few hours. That’s where paper tray capacity plays a significant role. Nowadays, the best printer brands offer large paper trays to facilitate up to 500-700 sheets easily. 

However, if you are not choosing a printer for commercial needs, ensure the paper tray can handle up to 200 sheets to prevent frequent refilling.

4. Connectivity

Do you prefer wireless printing, mobile printing, or wired printing? A sublimation printer with versatile connectivity options is ideal for multipurpose use. Modern printers offer Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB, and SD card slots to print easily and quickly. You may not find connectivity options in one printer but ensure it comes with a wireless connection for hassle-free printing.

5. Budget

You have considered all essential features, but it’s your budget that decides which printer is best for you. The price of a printer depends on various factors. For instance, if you are buying a printer for commercial use with smart features, it may cost you $3000. On the contrary, home sublimation printers are available at low prices, such as $300.

Another major factor that contributes to the price of a printer is technology. Printers with advanced features like Alexa, a large touchscreen, and an automatic document feeder are available at high prices. On the other hand, sublimation printers with basic features have low price costs. 

So, which printer is best for you, basic or advanced? It depends on your requirements. However, it is advised to take some time and find a printer with decent features that doesn’t have a high price tag and fulfills your printing needs.

6. Maintenance

Most people ignore the importance of a printer when paying for it. Whether you are using it regularly or haven’t touched the printer for some time, maintenance is still essential for smooth performance.

There are connectivity, cartridges, and other problems that your printer may run into. Apart from these issues, paper and ink costs stand as additional accessories to be unkept.

Make sure the printer comes with durable built quality for the least maintenance. Smooth printing ability, efficient ink usage, and connectivity are functions you need to look into to prevent frequent maintenance. Also, official apps like Epson iPrint help to perform basic maintenance tasks such as printhead cleaning directly from your smartphone, tablet, or PC.

Best T-shirt Sublimation Printers Brands

Sublimation printers are produced by two brands, Epson and Sawgrass. Both printer manufacturers are known for producing high-quality units with remarkable features. These printers have some similarities and differences based on their performance. 

Sawgrass Printer Pros

  • High-quality colors and prints
  • Excellent performance
  • Ideal for sublimation printing
  • Can copy and scan documents

Sawgrass printer cons

  • High price

Epson Printers Pros

  • High-color print quality
  • Scans and copies of documents
  • Low price
  • Innovative features

Epson Printers Cons

  • Ordinary durability
  • High Printing Cost

How to do sublimation printing on t-shirts?

Sublimation on shirts and t-shirts is not rocket science.

All you need to do is follow the right instructions to achieve the desired printing results.

You need the following equipment for sublimation printing.

  • Sublimation printer
  • Design software
  • Sublimation paper
  • Sublimation ink/dye
  • T t-shirts/fabrics (Polyester)
  • Heat press

Sublimation printing process

Sublimation Printing Process

Here is how you can easily go through the sublimation printing procedure.

1. Draw it upDesign the image

The first thing you need to do is to create a design for a t-shirt. There are tons of t-shirt design software available on the market.

Select the right one for your needs and create a t-shirt design you want to print on a shirt.

2. Print it offusing the sublimation printer

Print the design on the sublimation transfer paper. It is essential to have the best sublimation printer for t-shirts, the best sublimation paper, and the ink to achieve ideal results. Also, use the compatible ICC profiles according to the materials.

3. Heat pressing

The exposing heating process helps to transfer the design onto sublimation paper and onto the t-shirt. The heat press ensures that the printer ink sinks properly into the fabric during the sublimation process.

4. Check it out

Release the heat press and take the paper off the t-shirt. Make sure to place the paper properly on your t-shirt to avoid any inconvenience.

Best shirts for sublimation

The t-shirt material is an important factor to consider before starting printing. The print quality mainly depends on the fabric you select. 

Polyester is the best material for t-shirt sublimation printing. The material has the right pores to allow the ink to properly settle into the fabric and provide ideal printing results.

Here are other materials you can use for sublimation printing.

  • PVC
  • Poly-cotton textile
  • Polymer-coated plastic or metal
  • Polyester-coated aluminum
  • Ceramic
  • Polymer

Sublimation printing works great on light-colored fabrics. You can also print on dark materials, but the ink may not appear quite well like light-colored fabrics. So to sublimate the black color, you need to bleach it first.

T-shirts composed of 100% cotton are not a good option for sublimation printing. They lack the right kind of pores for the sublimation process. However, with the Sawgrass printers, you’ll be able to sublimate on dark and cotton fabrics. Check how to sublimate on cotton.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is it worth buying a sublimation printer?

Sublimation printers are best for fine lines and detail and are also the ideal method for all-over printing. The low-cost setup makes it a perfect option for small runs, and printing results are simply unbeatable.

Can I use a typical printer for sublimation shirts?

No, the regular printer can’t perform sublimation printing on shirts and hard materials.

What are the drawbacks of sublimation?

You must choose white or light-colored items for sublimation. Black and dark-colored surfaces are not suitable for the sublimation process. The printhead of the sublimation printer clogs when not used regularly. Check if you want the best sublimation printer for mugs.

Final words

Whether sublimation printing is your hobby or you are using it for commercial purposes, it’s of no use with the best sublimation printer. Selecting a sublimation printer for t-shirts depends on your personal preferences. It is recommended to consider your required features and budget before probing into the market. Manufacturers have produced top-quality printers offering superb sublimation performance. Now it’s your turn to choose the right sublimation printer for t-shirts. 

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