what printers can be used for sublimation best printer to convert

Best printer to convert to sublimation: What printers can be used?

Did you know that you don’t need a dedicated printer for sublimation, you can, in fact, convert one. The printer in question must be capable of handling sublimation ink, a specific kind of ink designed to transform into gas when heated and then back to solid while pressed onto substrates. What printers can be used for sublimation you ask?

The best printers to convert to sublimation are inkjet printers whose ink can be replaced with dye-sublimation ink. Typically, Epson printers that can be converted are regarded as some of the best sublimation printers on the market.

The Epson Ecotank ET-2800, ET-2850 ET-2760, ET-3760, and ET-15000 are regarded as some of the best inkjet printers that can be used for sublimation printing. These are also known as ink tank printers, which as you can probably guess use tanks instead of traditional cartridges. This means they can be easily filled with sublimation ink using auto-fill ink bottles made by various brands.

Our Recommendation

Epson ET-2800 and Hiipoo 4 set sublimation ink is a good choice of printer and sublimation ink combination for bright, vivid transfers on blanks. I have sublimated many different materials from prints using this printer and ink – Metal and glass tumblers, t-shirts, banners, and earrings, all turning out very vivid.

 Epson ET - 2800
  • Cheapest small format (8.5'' x 11'') Entry printer.
  • Prints good quality images
  • Most sought-after printer in the Sublimation community
Check Lowest Price on Amazon
ET-276000Epson ET - 3760
  • Affordable and lasts longer.
  • Has Memory card slot
  • Impressive Print Quality
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 Epson ET - 15000

  • Prints vivid color images
  • Same price like Sawgrass but much better than Sawgrass.
  • Easy to operate
  • Support papers up to 13'' x 19''
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Best printers you can convert for sublimation

Not all printers can be converted for sublimation but luckily there is a wide range of models that are ideal for the task. I’ll be suggesting printers that are more accessible, with easy-to-follow conversion steps.

So, first things first, to accomplish the conversion into sublimation, you require printers with a piezo print head that operate flawlessly against those that have a thermal print head. Acknowledging this, let’s help you choose your printer. 

1. Epson Ecotank ET-2800

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Epson Ecotank ET-2800 printer has a refillable tank and Ecofit ink bottles, which minimizes the expense of replacing disposable ones while also being ecologically friendly. Moreover, it uses Piezo technology to apply prints, making it the perfect conversion solution for sublimation printers.

Features

  • Large ink tank system with low cost per print
  • Compatible with sublimation ink for conversion to sublimation printing
  • High-quality printing with a resolution of 5760 x 1440 optimized dpi
  • Convenient refilling with easy-to-use ink tanks
  • Wireless connectivity options, including Wi-Fi Direct and Ethernet
  • Automatic duplex printing for double-sided printing
  • ENERGY STAR certified for energy efficiency.

Being 14.8 x 22.8 x 10 inches, you’ll feel at ease while producing moderate-sized prints. It supports printing paper sizes up to 8.5” x 11”. Moreover, it’s lightweight and has USB connectivity. It may be slow and doesn’t have a paper tray.

You can check out the Epson ET-2800 right here on Amazon.

2. Epson Ecotank ET-2803

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Epson Ecotank ET-2803 printer helps with high-quality prints while being eco-friendly. It uses piezo technology for printing and comes with a high-capacity ink tank, a scanner, and a photocopier. Having dimensions of (19.6 x 15.9 x 9.2 inches), USB ports, Inkjet printing tech, and a Flatbed scanner, it’ll help you achieve attractive prints for your blanks. It supports printing paper sizes up to 8.5” x 11”.

You can check out the Epson ET-2803 right here on Amazon.

3. Epson ET – 15000 – Best for printing large size(13”x19”)

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The Ecotank 15000 is regarded as one of the best Epson printers for sublimation. With some extra features over the entry models of Ecotanks and its 13”x19” print capacity, this printer is an excellent choice for larger designs and printing needs. So if that is something you are looking for, the Ecotank 15000 is the printer for you.

You can check out the Epson ET-15000 right here on Amazon.

4. Epson ET-2400 – Budget & compact sublimation printer

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The Epson EcoTank ET-2400 printer showcases yet another price point and offers a convenient and eco-friendly solution for everyday sublimation printing. This all-in-one supertank printer comes in a sleek design, can be easily converted, and produces high-quality prints.

5. Epson ET-16600 – Alternative for wide format sublimation prints

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While we highly favor the ET-15000 as one of the best wide-format printers for sublimation, the ET-16600 is a great alternative. This is a versatile, high-end Epson model with many other amazing qualities outside of sublimation.

How to convert printers for sublimation

Before we get into the process of conversion for sublimation, I’ll help you with the list of essential things you require for conversion.

Check out our detailed guide on converting Epson Ecotank printers for sublimation.

  • Sublimation inks: You should choose one brand and avoid varied ink formulations in your transferred designs. I use the popular Hiipoo EcoFill Sublimation Ink with EcoFill bottles which work with the printer and help me avoid the process of syringe and bottle refilling.
  • Sublimation Paper: You require a special paper for sublimation inks that helps in a smooth transfer of designs.
  • Sublimation blanks: You will need a substrate that has a layer of polyester for the ink to get settled in and produce the result.
  • HeatPress: You have to choose a heat press that offers a minimum of 400 degrees F.
  • Sublimation mat, protective paper, and heat-resistant tape: It’s good to have these to help you prevent any mishaps during the process of transfer.

1. Let’s fill the Ink Tank:

Remove the printer from the box and discard the inks that came with it as we’ll be using sublimation inks for the Ink Tank. Next, locate the ink tanks on the side of the printer, open the lid, and you’ll find the colors labeled.

Then, you have to open the lid of each tank to add the inks. You can use a syringe or directly add the ink from the bottle to the tank carefully. Lastly, notice if your tank is full. You can do this by giving the printer a small bump and letting the ink settle down. If needed fill more, but don’t go beyond the top line.

2. Setting up the printer:

Before you set up your printer, ensure that each ink tank is full. Next, plug the printer in and follow the instructions notified on the printer. Note that you need not follow the entire process again for printing.

Then, follow the sheet to know which buttons to push to initiate the priming of the ink in the printer. You might need to refill the ink a bit after the priming process. After that, your printer will start the alignment process wherein you’ll follow the instructions displayed on the screen.

3. Connect the computer:

Now, you are required to set up default settings for your regular printing process. So, hook your printer to the computer. Next, use the disc that may have arrived with the printer or use the website to download your necessities.

Make the default paper type premium presentation paper matte and select the box of “mirrored printing” for the most satisfactory quality.

Printer compatibility for sublimation: key factors

When searching for a compatible printer to convert, the main feature to look at is the print head type. Printers with a Piezo Print Head are considered the most suitable for conversion to sublimation. Piezo uses piezoelectric crystals to create droplets, giving greater control over the ink ejection. This means accuracy in the world of sublimation, plus this print head is more forgiving when using other inks such as sublimation ink.

The second cruical factor is ink compatibility. Sublimation ink differs greatly from your average ink, forumalted to turn into a gas when heated, bnonding with the substrate and creating your long lasting design. We have listed all compatible conversion printers which you can swap out the ink for sublimation ink when required.

Converted printer vs dedicated sublimation printer

As discussed, you have the option to choose from dedicated sublimation printers and models that can be converted but why convert them in the first place?

Printers that can be converted for sublimation are often considered a cost-effective way to get into sublimation printing. You can easily turn an Epson EcoTank into a sublimation printer, saving some money on the more expensive, purpose-built sublimation models.

Some EcoTank printers will simply allow you to swap out the ink and hey presto! Plus you can always swap out the ink back for regular printing tasks, giving you more versatility than a dedicated sublimation printer.

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So, why do people bother with dedicated sublimation printers? Well, they are specialized models, purpose-built for this very task. They offer precise control over specific settings to effortlessly get great results. They are, of course, already set up for sublimation, making them a lot easier to use for beginners. This type of sublimation printer tends to come with higher costs and there are few we would reccomend over a converted inkjet printer. Lastly, manufacturers may not provide a warranty for converted printers or offer tech support if future issues arise.

Inkjet printers that can be converted for sublimation

A lot of inkjet printers can be converted, however, Epson’s EcoTank series is often favored. As long as you have the right conversion kit and ink, the below models are some of the most common for conversion.

Epson EcoTank Series:

  • Epson EcoTank ET-2400
  • Epson EcoTank ET-2720
  • Epson EcoTank ET-2760
  • Epson EcoTank ET-2800
  • Epson EcoTank ET-2803
  • Epson EcoTank ET-2850
  • Epson EcoTank ET-3760
  • Epson EcoTank ET-3830
  • Epson EcoTank ET-3850
  • Epson EcoTank ET-4700
  • Epson EcoTank ET-4800
  • Epson EcoTank ET-4850
  • Epson EcoTank ET-5150
  • Epson EcoTank ET-5170
  • Epson EcoTank ET-5180
  • Epson EcoTank ET-5800
  • Epson EcoTank ET-5850
  • Epson EcoTank ET-5880
  • Epson EcoTank ET-7700
  • Epson EcoTank ET-8500
  • Epson EcoTank ET-8550
  • Epson EcoTank ET-15000
  • Epson EcoTank ET-16600
  • Epson EcoTank ET-16650

Epson WorkForce Series:

  • Epson WorkForce WF-7210
  • Epson WorkForce WF-7720
  • Epson WorkForce WF-7710
  • Epson WorkForce WF-7210

Epson Expression Series:

  • Epson Expression Photo XP-8600
  • Epson Expression Photo XP-8500
  • Epson Expression Photo XP-15000 (for larger formats)

Canon PIXMA Series:

  • Canon PIXMA Pro-100
  • Canon PIXMA Pro-10

Can Canon PIXMA printers be converted into sublimation printers?

Technically, yes. However, the process is much harder with a Canon PIXMA over say an Epson EcoTank. The reason is that Canon printers tend to use bubble jet technology, which is far harder to convert. EcoTank printers on the other hand use Piezo print heads, which tend to work seamlessly with sublimation ink.

Final word

It’s vital to note that, not every printer can be converted to a sublimation printer, while some printer types can be more appropriate for sublimation printing than others. We have highlighted what printers can be used for sublimation and the best ones to covert.

Depending on the printer’s brand and model, as well as the software being used, the precise procedures to convert a printer to sublimation will differ.

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5 Comments

  1. Curious if all the Epson Ecotanks work, Costco has a few 2850, 3850, 4850 and 8500SE. Any way to tell?

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