Sublimation printing is the go-to method for printing ever-lasting designs onto a range of materials. The ink designs do not fade after wash cycles and maintain the customized appearance of your clothing/objects for longer. The barriers for entry are quite high for sublimation printing, however: between the printer itself and print supplies such as sublimation ink – not to mention the items you actually want to print onto – so it’s understandable that people look for ways to reduce the cost.
I think a great way to begin cutting costs is to invest in one of the best Epson printers for sublimation. Epson sublimation printers are generally just Epson’s standard range of printers, with the option to convert them for use on t-shirts, mugs or other sublimation media. They are a great value product and can take the sting off buying a single-purpose sublimation printer. They provide excellent quality prints, are user-friendly, and are overall very cost-effective.
So today, I’ve broken down the best sublimation printers Epson has on offer, to provide you with plenty of choice as a novice or journeyman sublimation artist.
Top Pick - #1Epson ET - 2800
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2nd BestEpson ET - 3760
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13''x19'' PrinterEpson ET - 15000
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Generally speaking, you’ll want an Epson EcoTank Printer for sublimation. They are the most effective, utilizing the best ink-tank systems for cost-effective printing.
Best Epson printer for sublimation
While Epson offers off-the-shelf sublimation printers in the SureColor series, they aren’t suitable for someone who is just starting. Instead, my advice would be to buy a brand new (not old or secondhand) Epson EcoTank, Workforce, or Expression series printer and tweak or convert it to work as a sublimation printer.
Epson EcoTank offers the easiest-to-execute conversion because it comes with a separate ink tank module instead of regular cartridges. These are the most highly recommended Epson printers to convert for sublimation.
You don’t need to pop out ink cartridges and use syringes to fill in the sublimation ink carefully. Just attach the ink bottle with a specialized nozzle (Hiipoo and a few other brands make these) and fill the ink color. Moreover, my ink spillage and wastage are significantly less with EcoTank. Most EcoTank printer models support the standard 8.5″ x 14″ paper size.
For me, the Epson EcoTank ET-15000 is the best choice, offering top-quality print options up to 13″ x 19″ in size and boasting large sustainable ink tanks. It’s price, however, may put it out of the reach of sublimation printing for beginners. Thankfully, Epson offer a wide range of EcoTank options.
- Save up to 90 percent on ink with low-cost replacement bottles vs. ink cartridges (1) — about 1 cent per color ISO page vs. about 20 cents with cartridges (1).
- Epson EcoTank is the No.1 Best Selling Supertank Printer
- Versatile paper handling — print up to 13″ x 19″ through rear feed; copy and scan up to 8. 5″ x 11″ (via the scan bed) or 8. 5″ x 14″ (via the ADF).
- Print for up to 2 years with each included or replacement ink bottle set (2) — each set includes enough ink to print up to 7,500 pages black / 6,000 color (3); you could save $620 with each one (1).
- Cartridge-Free Printing — one set of replacement ink bottles equivalent to about 80 individual cartridges (4).
On the other end of the spectrum, Epson EcoTank ET-2800 is the most affordable of the printers on the market today. It sports all the essential functions like print, copy, and scan with a 100-page tray capacity, wireless printing supports, and a 1.44-inch LED display. Though the overall quality isn’t as impressive, it’s an excellent starter sublimation printer.
As you go higher, the Epson tries to compensate for the price by adding some extra (although not very useful) features like Ethernet, Fax, auto-feeder, etc.
The EcoTank ET-4850 ($449) and the EcoTank ET-15000 (Paper size: 13 x 19 inches) with wide-format print support ($649) belong to the expensive range.
Many of these printers offer significant warranties for protection. Be sure to read the fine print as converting it to a sublimation printer does void the warranty in some cases.
With EcoTank sublimation printers, there are a few options for ink. Hippo ink costs $24 for a standard four-color kit, but you will need syringes to insert it into most EcoTank printers. The proprietary nozzle-head kit retails for $37, but it is easy to fill the EcoTank ink.
The SureColor Series is another range of Epson printers for sublimation designed to provide industrial printing solutions at a low total cost of ownership while delivering high-quality print output. I think these printers are the logical next step for sublimation printing at a journeyman level.
One notable example within the SureColor series is the Epson F170, which offers reliable performance with its PrecisionCore MicroTFP printhead, enabling businesses to personalize items such as awards, mugs, and mousepads. Priced in the middle of the best Epson EcoTank printers for sublimation – around the same budget point as the Sawgrass SF-500 – this is a good median option for those wanting a bit more functionality from their printing. The one nagging element is the lack of Epson’s companion software, which is conspicuously absent from this otherwise great package.
Replacement ink for this printer retails at $25 per 140 ml bottle, which is cheaper than the official Sawgrass ink.
Epson WorkForce printers for sublimation come in two variants: one with regular cartridges and the other with the “Supertank” branding. The latter has the same ink tank design and replenishing feasibility as the EcoTank series printers. However, the price difference between a standard Workforce printer and a Workforce Supertank model is quite steep. So, a standard Workforce model will suffice if you are okay with working with syringes to fill the ink cartridge. The Workforce printers support a wide format printing size of up to 13″ × 19″. If you go with the Workforce Supertank version, you can create a formidable sublimation printer with easy ink replacement and wireless connectivity features. But if you go with a WorkForce model that uses ink cartridges, syringes are the only option: they have individual cartridges for each color that I find really difficult to refill.
The WorkForce ST-C2100 starts as the cheapest option, offering 5 prints-per-minute. It has the same external ink tank feature, the only difference being the wider paper size support. As a budget Epson printer for sublimation, it is an inoffensive, inexpensive option.
Remember that these printers don’t work out-of-the-box as sublimation printers, you need to convert them first.
However, if you want higher PPM output, additional connectivity features, and more, the Epson WorkForce WF-7720 is a powerhouse. It has all the bells and whistles of a premium WorkForce printer with a 500-page load capacity and 10 PPM output. Moreover, it is the preferred choice of many sublimation enthusiasts.
Other Epson Printers for Sublimation
I’ve only covered the most popular models of Epson models today: both the budget options and the more mid-range sublimation printers. There are a gamut of other models available, such as:
- Epson EcoTank ET-2800 (8.5 x 14 inches)
- Epson EcoTank ET-2850 (8.5 x 14 inches)
- Epson EcoTank ET-4800 (8.5 x 14 inches)
- Epson EcoTank ET-4850 (8.5 x 14 inches)
- Epson EcoTank ET-15000 (13 x 19 inches)
- Epson EcoTank ET-16600 (13 x 19 inches)
- Epson WorkForce WF-2850 (8.5 x 14 inches)
- Epson WorkForce WF-2960 (8.5 x 14 inches)
- Epson WorkForce WF-7710 (13 x 19 inches)
- Epson WorkForce WF-7720 (13 x 19 inches)
Whilst none of these are explicitly bad Epson printers for sublimation, I thought it was worthwhile highlighting the best-value options – both in the sense of affordability and overall value for money.
Pros and Cons of Epson Sublimation Printers
It is very cost-effective, especially for beginners.
You don’t need to buy expensive ink cartridges.
It will likely void your warranty.
You will have to do a lot of tweaking to get the correct color output.
It is hard to find technical support for a converted Epson printer.
Key Points To Remember
- Printer conversion is irreversible. Once you use sublimation ink in an inkjet printer, you cannot return to regular printing.
- There are additional material costs to this craft. It includes sublimation paper, a heat press, and sublimation ink.
- Setting up color profiles is a surmounting task with a converted printer. You have to make fine adjustments to produce exact color outputs on the fabric.
- Polyester should be your go-to fabric if you want to work with clothing.
EcoTank vs WorkForce: Which is Better?
I think it’s not fair to ask “which is better”, as both of these lines of Epson printers for sublimation are suited to different needs, budgets and overall purposes.
EcoTank printers are often favored for converting, often because people already have them as a multimedia printer. They are more user-friendly, and refilling the ink is far easier. However, the WorkForce line are closer to purpose-built sublimation printers: boasting exceptional speed, print quality and size. Generally, they come with more connectivity options for printing designs from a number of sources.
I’d say that EcoTank printers are the better option for beginners, whilst WorkForce units serve the intermediate and low-grade commercial class of printing.
You can’t, unfortunately. Converting your printer to a sublimation printer is irreversible – so be sure to use it for any other printing requirements before conversion!
No, you need a special sublimation printer or inkjet printers that use Piezo printheads like Epson EcoTank or Epson WorkForce models.
If you were looking for advice on the best Epson Printer for Sublimation, I hope you found it: there are many printers on the market at a range of budget points, so I aimed to keep you in the green as best as I could.
For handy guides on everything from how to print sublimation images to product reviews, stay tuned here at Cranky Press Man.