Best Sublimation Ink 2024: Top picks for vibrant, long lasting prints

Sublimation ink is essential for achieving long-lasting and high-quality prints on various surfaces. Regardless if you are a seasoned professional looking for a top-up or a sublimation beginner, choosing the best sublimation ink is crucial for brighter prints. To ensure you walk away with the right ink, we will be looking into factors such as color accuracy, compatibility with different substrates, and resistance to fading.

Top 5 sublimation inks to purchase

Pressed for time! Here is a quick rundown of the sublimation inks that I will be reviewing, with one line for each:

  1. Hiipoo ink: Dries the quickest and doesn’t smudge at all
  2. Cosmos Ink: Best shelf life and excellent color accuracy
  3. Printers Jack ink: Widest color gamut and true reproduction
  4. Sawgrass Sublijet HD: Most premium with professional quality
  5. Epson UltraChrome DS Ink: Best for a textile-based image printing

With over five years of experience with sublimation printing, I know how difficult it is to pick the right sublimation ink. Some are affordable but have subpar print longevity, whereas some bring in the best color vibrancy and last a lifetime but can burn a hole in your pocket.

To make things simple, we will list the various recommended sublimation ink brands, along with their immediate features and compatibility. This will allow you to quickly pair the right ink with the best sublimation printer.

Sublimation Ink BrandsColor ManagementColor VibrancyDrying TimeFade ResistanceCompatibility
HiipooRequires ICCBright, vivid colorsFast (2 minutes)GoodWide range
CosmosICC-Free PrintingAccurate color reproductionAverageExcellentHigh compatibility
Printers-JackMay require ICC profileEnhanced black densityAverageGoodWide range
Sawgrass Sublijet HDMay require ICC profileExceptional color vibrancyAverageExcellentSawgrass printers only
Epson UltraChrome DSMay require ICC profileExceptional color vibrancyFast
(2-3 minutes)
ExcellentEpson SureColor printers only

Best sublimation ink

I tested over ten sublimation ink variants, sequencing them per the color quality, price, and a wide range of metrics. In the end, I decided that only five there actually fit in — focusing perfectly on the balance between affordability, quality, availability, and ease of usage. While Cosmos ink ticks a lot of compatibility boxes, the value from Hiipoo is hard to beat.

1. Cosmos Ink: Best in terms of color accuracy and vibrancy

Pros

Cons

  • Compatibility suffers with non-Epson printers.
  • Requires high maintenance and frequent print head cleaning

Cosmos ink comes widely recommended, with excellent compatibility, color accuracy, and color vibrancy. This ink type makes sense if you are interested in printing promotional DIY items, apparel, and even home decor essentials. 

Key features

  • High ink consistency
  • A sub-$100 price point for the entire set
  • Requires minimal maintenance
  • Compatible with Workforce and Epson EcoTank inkjet printers

Compatibility and technical specs

While this sublimation ink works like magic with a handful of Epson Ecotank printers, it is also compatible with different heat presses like the draw-style and clamshell ones.

The ink comes across as a water-based mix known for eco-friendliness and excellent print quality.  This ink can be used in WF-77220 and other cheap workforce models too, but you need to use refillable cartridges which are not so easily available on the market.

Why is it on the list?

There are two reasons to specifically put this on our list. First of all, the price tag for a set of 6 120ml bottles is reasonable.

2. Hiipoo Sublimation Ink: Best value

Sale
Hiipoo Sublimation Ink Refilled Bottles with Heat Tape Refill for ET2400 XP4105 XP4100 ET2720 ET2760 ET2750 ET4800 ET-2800 ET-2803 ET-2850 Inkjet Printers Heat Press Transfer on Mugs T-Shirts
  • [Wide Compatibility] Hiipoo Sublimation Ink transfer printing ink refills for Stylus C88 C88+ ET-2720 ET-2760 ET-2800 ET-2803 ET-2830 ET-2850 ET-15000 ET-3760 ET-4800 ET-4700 ET-3830 ET-3850 ET-8550 ET-2710 ET-3710 ET-4760 ET-16600 ET-16650 printer; WorkForce WF3620 WF3640 WF7620 WF3540 WF3520 WF7010 WF7110 WF7210 WF7510 WF7520 WF7610 WF7710 WF7720 printer ect.
  • [Great For DIY And On Demand Printing] The sublimation ink is ideal for mugs, T-shirts, cloth, pillowcases, shoes, caps, ceramics, boxes, bags, quilts, cross-stitched items, decorative clothes, flags, banners, etc. Bring your creations to life printing for every occasion, especially great as gifts for friends family, and more. (Note: Sublimation ink can only be used in fabrics containing less than 30% cotton.)
  • [Colorfully Vibrant] Hiippo sublimation ink offers the most vibrant Intense colors that stand out and are sure to get noticed in any situation, the colors do not fade are long lasting and are wonderfully resilient. The water-based dye sublimation ink is of the finest texture and gradient for a smooth even coat of printer inks every time that will last as well as be wonderfully vivid. This ensures no print-head clogs with a stronger color reduction to offer intense and vibrant color images.
  • [Professionally Certified Offering The Highest Quality Standard] This product holds the following certifications ISO-9001 and MSDS.The product has undergone rigorous scrutiny and quality checks to ensure the highest quality standards are met before delivery, in order to deliver the most potent, high-quality, stable, durable, and vibrant colors on the market today
  • [Included Items] 1x100ml black sublimation ink; 1x100ml cyan sublimation ink; 1x100ml magenta sublimation ink; 1x100ml yellow sublimation ink; 4 x syringes; 4 x needles; 2 x gloves; 1x tape. This package makes it simple and easy to refill, making it wonderfully user & eco-friendly. This is a product that you will come to love as soon as you receive it.

Pros

  • Smudge resistant
  • Doesn’t require ICC profiles to print the best designs
  • Affordable
  • Works well with Epson’s convertible pieces

Cons

  • Not recommended for non-Epson printers

Not many sublimation ink picks are as affordable as the Hiipoo sublimation ink. But the best part about Hiipoo is that the ink quality is top-notch and doesn’t depend on the printer’s ICC profiles. Simply put, it supports ICC-free sublimation printing. 

Key features

  • High print transfer rate
  • Compatible with a wide range of substrates
  • Water-based formulation with a quick drying time

Compatibility and technical specs

Hiipoo ink variants are compatible with Epson printers — preferably the EcoTank and even Workforce variants. As for the heat press compatibility, I liked using the same with a handful of clamshell variants, including the Cricut EasyPress. The design transfer percentage was as high as one could expect.

Other ink-specific technical traits include high saturation for improved color accuracy, zero ink fading, excellent permeability that leads to better transfers, and the waterproof nature of the prints. Also, the diameter of the ink particles is only 50% of that of the ink outlet, ensuring zero instances of printer head blockages. 

Why is it on the list?

Firstly, it is the well-balanced ink formulation that places it on the list. Next, this ink variant can work with a wide range of substrates — ceramics, metal, textiles, and more. Finally, the drying time of under 2 minutes makes it worth every dime you spend on it.

And yes, if you are unsure about the pricing, you can either get the 4-bottle deal or the 6-color ink set. Do note that the prices might vary depending on deals and availability.

You can check out the Hippo Ink on Amazon right here.

3. Printers Jack Ink: Best in terms of ink durability

Printers Jack 400ML Sublimation Ink for Epson 15000 C88 C88+ WF7720 ET2720 ET4760 ET2760 ET2750 WF7820 Inkjet Printers Heat Press Transfer on Mugs, Plates, Polyester Shirts, Phone Cases etc
  • High quality sublimation ink for epson 15000 C288 C68 C88 C88+ ET4760 ET2650 ET2720 L3110 ET2750 ET2760 ET3760 ET3710 ET5800 ET7700 WF2860 WF2760 WF7710 XP200 XP300 XP310 XP320 XP400 XP4100 XP434 XP6000 XP6100 XP7100 XP8500 XP8600 XP970etc printer
  • Free ICC Profile & DIY Your Life and Gifts. ICC profile can be free downloaded from Printers Jack. The heat transfer printer ink is suitable for T-shirt, cloth, pillow case, mug cup ,quilt, cross-stitch, shoe, cap, ceramics, box, bag, decorative cloth, flag, banner etc. Put your idea on your life and gifts.
  • Vibrant Colors & Custom For Heat Transfer Ink. The water based dye sublimation Ink provides high heat transfer printing rate, and produces bright and vivid color. 3 layer filtered ink is formulated for heat press transfer printer. No clogging and print smoothly.
  • Fade Resistant & Easy to Install and Refill. The refillable sublimation ink kit has strong stability and durability. It’s water resistant and light fastness, and no fading. Very easy to use.
  • For Polyester . The dye sub inks is for polyester or products with coating; not for cotton. ISO 9001 Certified. We value our customers ‘s using experience.

Pros

  • Compatible with a wide range of substrates
  • Eco-friendly ink
  • Affordable without quality compromises

Cons

  • It might require additional cleaning and maintenance.

If you prioritize vibrant, high-saturation designs, the Printer Jack sublimation ink can be a lifesaver. While the color reproduction is top-notch, you can use this ink for a wide range of substrates, including home decor items, custom apparel, and whatnot. 

Key features

  • Waterproof finish
  • Smudge resistant
  • Affordable
  • Works well with almost every heat press machine

Compatibility and technical specs

For starters, you can use the Printers Jack Ink with Epson’s workforce and EcoTank inkjet printers. I tested the prints with the Geo Knight DK20S heat press, and the results came out as excellent, making this sublimation ink a great choice for most swing-away and drawer-style heat presses.

Even the Printers Jack Ink is water-based but boasts excellent print longevity. What works even better is the waterproof finish. Plus, the ink boasts excellent permeability and can quickly dry out in under 2 minutes for some designs. Also, the ink is moderately smudge-resistant and hardly bleeds. 

Why is it on the list?

While it boasts several premium traits, it is the price point for a set of 6 that makes it appear on the list. Plus, the prints made using the Printers Jack Ink lasted just as long as the others. 

You can check out the Printers Jack Ink on Amazon right here.

4. Sawgrass Sublijet HD Ink: Best for professionals

Sawgrass Sublimation Ink for SG400/SG800 SubliJet HD Ink- 29mL Magenta Standard Inkjet Printer Cartridge 209093
  • Sawgrass SubliJet HD Sublimation Ink for Sawgrass SG400 & SG800, Cyan Regular Capacity Cartridge 29 ml
  • COMES WITH 1 ROLL OF SUBLIMAX BRAND TAPE!!! High quality heat tape for sublimation. Size: 1/2″ x 100′ and 3″ core. Made with silicone glue: leaves no residues!

Pros

  • Offers professional-grade print quality
  • Widest possible heat press compatibility
  • Smudge resistance
  • Dries faster than most other inks on the market

Cons

  • Doesn’t work as well with non-Sawgrass printers

If you seek premium sublimation ink that works wonders with Sawgrass sublimation printers, the Sublijet HD Ink is the one to get. What sets it apart from the rest is the exceptionally wide color gamut, allowing you to use the same for a wide range of printing jobs. Also, this ink scales above the rest in terms of sharpness, detail, and color vibrancy. 

Key features

  • High substrate composability
  • Quick drying ink
  • Consistent performance with SG-series printers

Compatibility and technical specs

The Sublijet HD Ink works well with almost every Sawgrass sublimation printer, including the SG-500, SG-1000, and even the Sawgrass Virtuoso picks like the SG800 and SG400. Also, this ink type is compatible with almost every type of heat press around, including the likes of clamshell and drawer-style.

Why is it on the list?

It is the quick drying time of less than 180 seconds that makes it one of the more sought-after sublimation inks. Plus, it is smudge and bleed-proof, allowing you to get the best possible designs and subsequent clean transfers without breaking a sweat.

5. Epson UltraChrome DS Ink: Best image quality

Pros

  • Color consistency is impeccable.
  • Best for image printing on t-shirts and other apparel types
  • Works with multiple substrates
  • Water-based eco-friendly formulation

Cons

  • Limited compatibility with non-Epson printers
  • The price is still on the higher side.

If you want a sublimation ink that is great at printing images and presenting colors the best possible way, courtesy of the rich and deep blacks, the Epson UltraChrome DS Ink is the name to consider. 

Key features

  • The black ink from the set of 6 stands out
  • Wide heat press compatibility
  • Excellent color accuracy

Compatibility and technical specs

The Epson UltraChrome DS Ink is compatible with Epson’s SureColor printers, especially the ones from the F-series. I tested the same with the F9200, and the results were exemplary. The ink formulation is such that the color accuracy stands out, followed by the best-in-class saturation.

I tested it with a wide range of heat presses, and the design transfer percentage was always above 95%, easily. The water-based ink formulation makes it eco-friendly, all while keeping the prints last longer than ever. Finally, while the ink responds the best to textiles as the choice of substrate, you can even use the same with mouse pads, metallic surfaces, and even ceramics, with exceptional results.

Why is it on the list?

The ink is smudge-resistant and dries in under 120 seconds. But the primary reason for having this one on the list is the price point for a set of six massive cartridges. Therefore, despite the premium quality, the Epson UltraChrome DS Ink is cheaper than the Sublijet HD variant. 

Hippoo vs Printers Jack vs Cosmos Ink: Comparing the best

As a beginner, you might want to go in-depth into the top inks, especially when the likes of Hiipoo, Cosmos, and even Printers Jack hardly offer a wide range of differences to go with. With compatible printers and almost similar drying times, it can get a tad overwhelming to choose the right ink.

But I have you covered as I have tested each ink separately, obviously using the Epson EcoTank 4700 and the ASUB sublimation paper, and have located the differences for you. Here is how the top three printers differ based on the tested parameters:

1. Color vibrancy

  • Hiipoo: Mostly bright colors with high permeability for better absorption and high saturation.
  • Cosmos: The black density ensures that the color contrast is the best
  • Printers Jack: Focuses more on offering the exact color reproduction and the widest possible color gamut

2. Color management

  • Hiipoo: Can print without reliance on ICC profiles and is very easy to use
  • Cosmos: Might need ICC profiles to achieve color accuracy and contrast
  • Printers Jack: Might need ICC color profiles to make use of the color gamut

3. Smudging and drying time

  • Hiipoo: Dries the fastest in under 2 minutes, and there is no smudging whatsoever.
  • Cosmos: Does smudge all that easily and takes close to 3 minutes for the ink to dry. 
  • Printers Jack: Might smudge a bit and also has the longest drying time.

4. Clogging and eco-friendliness

  • Hiipoo: Water-based ink formulation with the least chance of clogging
  • Cosmos: Water-based but requires maintenance and cleaning of the printer head
  • Printers Jack: Water-based and less likely to clog, but not as good as Hiipoo

5. Shelf life

  • Hiipoo: Average
  • Cosmos: Longest (almost two years)
  • Printers Jack: Average

6. Printer compatibility

  • Hiipoo: Compatible with a wide range of convertible Epson printers 
  • Cosmos: Can work with printers other than Epson, high compatibility
  • Printers Jack: Mostly compatible with Epson printers

7. Fade resistance

  • Hiipoo: Decent fade resistance
  • Cosmos: Decent fade resistance
  • Printers Jack: Excellent fade resistance and longevity

If you are in the market for some easy-to-use sublimation ink variants with excellent drying time, Hiipoo sublimation ink makes sense. However, for greater color contrast, multi-printer compatibility, and excellent shelf-life, I would recommend Cosmos over anything else. And if you view accurate color reproduction as a priority along with the widest possible color gamut, you can pick Printers-Jack inks. 

Things to consider when buying sublimation ink

If you are new to sublimation printing, we have put together a few key factors to think about before purchasing your chosen ink. Most of the topics below have been discussed above but hopefully, these will help clear up any uncertainties before you start printing.

Printer compatibility

Before you go ink shopping, make sure that the type is compatible with the sublimation printer you are using. While some inks are widely compatible with a lot of different printers, others are better suited for specific types or brands.

Color accuracy and vibrancy

If you want true-to-life colors over anything else, Cosmos Ink variants make more sense. Therefore, it is advisable to check the accuracy and vibrancy of the colors, preferably by testing a few prints in real-time, before buying. Color accuracy can be a bit subjective but our top selections all offer pretty good accuracy and vibrant results.

Ink formulation

Before you pick sublimation ink for printing, you need to check the ink formulation. There are water-based ink types like Hiipoo boasting excellent print quality and eco-friendliness, whereas some solvent-based ink types might offer a higher level of color longevity while not being that environment-friendly. At the end of the day, it is your choice to make.

Substrate compatibility

You might want to go with an ink type that works well across substrates. The UltraChrome DS from Epson is one such variant, allowing you to work well with the likes of metal, fabric, ceramics, and more. 

Drying time and smudging 

It is important that the ink you use dries quickly and does not smudge. We have listed the drying times above to give you a rough idea. Always check if there is ink ghosting or bleeding involved by taking out a few demo prints.

Value

If you are starting out and have a basic sublimation printer — even a convertible — to work with, going budget-friendly is advisable. Affordable inks are of a decent standard these days and an option such as Hiipoo sublimation ink will yield excellent results for less.

Sublimation ink FAQs

Which sublimation ink is best for Epson 2800, 2803, 2720, 2760, and 2850?

For the said Epson printers, I would recommend you go with Hiipoo or even the Printers-Jack inks. You can even go with Cosmos inks if a longer shelf-life is something that you seek. 

Is all sublimation ink the same?

No, every sublimation ink isn’t the same. They vary when it comes to the formulation — water or solvent-based, shelf-life, color accuracy, printer compatibility, and other factors.

Can you mix two sublimation ink brands?

No, it isn’t recommended to mix two ink variants. It might lead to color shifts, inconsistent prints, printer head clogging, and even hardware damage. 

Are there different types of sublimation ink?

Yes, there are different types of sublimation ink, mainly segregated as water-based and solvent-based dye sublimation inks. Apart from the formulation, you can differentiate inks based on application and compatibility.

Final word

And that’s everything you need to know when it comes to picking the best sublimation ink. Just to reiterate, always double-check your personal requirements and printer ink alignment before buying any type of sublimation ink. Rest assured that you generally can’t go wrong with either Cosmos, Hiipoo, or Printers Jack ink, just make sure you check compatibility first.

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