Sublimation printing is the go-to method to print ever-lasting designs. The ink designs do not fade after a few wash cycles and maintain the customized appearance of your clothing/objects. But when I started my voyage in this craft, I was shocked to see the pricing of printers capable of doing so.
However, I learned that existing printers from Epson can be easily transformed to produce sublimation designs. But why the Epson printers only? Because they use Micro Piezo printing heads and are an apt choice for sublimation printing.
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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So, if you want to jump into customized print designs on clothes or various objects, I suggest converting an Epson inkjet printer into a sublimation printer. But which one?
But there is a caveat of choosing one between these two. If you want ease of use, support and auto maintenance go with the Sawgrass printers ($500+). Otherwise, if you are under little budget constraints and can take the extra steps to convert then eco tanks are your best option.
The Best Epson Printers You Can Convert and use 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.
1. Epson Ecotank Models
Epson EcoTank offers the easiest-to-execute conversion because it comes with a separate ink tank module instead of regular cartridges.
So, 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 inches paper size. The quality is fine, but there are minimal options if you want to do wide-format printing.
Epson EcoTank ET-2800 is the cheapest of the currently available printers that start from $279. It sports all the essential functions like print, copy, and scan with a 100 pages tray capacity, wireless printing supports, and a tiny 1.44-inch LED display.
As you go higher, the Eposn 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.
These printers aren’t for newbies; you must practice the craft on a cheaper one before settling for a premium sublimation printer.
We wouldn’t bother with the warranty aspect because you will void it when you put sublimation ink into it. Hippo ink costs $24 for a standard four-color kit, but you will need syringes to fill this one. The proprietary nozzle-head kit retails for $37, but it is easy to fill the EcoTank ink.
2. Surecolor Series
The SureColor Series is a 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.
One notable example within the SureColor series is the F170 Dye-Sublimation Printer which offers reliable performance with its PrecisionCore MicroTFP printhead, enabling businesses to personalize items such as awards, mugs, and mousepads.
For starters, Epson has an F-170 as a small format printer priced at $400. The next model number is the F-570 which is a wide format printer priced at $2000, which can print on pages up to 24 inches.
The larger F6470 44″ Dye-Sublimation Printer takes it up a notch with impressive speeds up to 820 ft²/hr1 and additional features like a built-in cutter and media take-up reel system.
1. Epson F-170
Epson F-170 is a budget true-sublimation printer by the company. It competes with the Sawgrass SF-500 in pricing and is capable of printing 8.5 x 11″ sublimation designs. The printer is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a cheap sublimation printer but finds it difficult to convert an inkjet printer.
This sublimation printer supports a maximum DPI of 1200 * 600 which is good for small designs. The output won’t come out super-defined due to the average resolution, but it will still work for hobbyists or t-shirt sublimation.
The Epson F-170 has an auto-feed tray that can fit 150 sheets of sublimation paper with a decent print speed and a separate ink tank. You won’t get any sublimation materials inside the box except the printer and four bottles of the official ink.
Replacement ink for this printer retails at $25 per 140 ml bottle, which is cheaper than the official Sawgrass ink.
At the $400-450 price range, you cannot really complain. This printer comes with plenty of connectivity features including Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. But Epson doesn’t even include its official printing software for sublimation printers, so you will have to use Photoshop or Silhouette Studio to perfect your designs.
- Budget-friendly true sublimation printer
- 1-year warranty
- Easily print 8.5 x 11″ designs
- No companion software included
- Doesn’t come with any sublimation material
2. Epson F-570
If you are serious about starting sublimation as a business or want to upgrade your workplace sublimation printer with a more powerful one, the Epson F-570 is a great choice.
After this model, the price of sublimation printers by Epson drastically shoots to $8000 and up for the 44” models.
The Epson F-570 is capable of printing up to 24” * 100” designs in a single go with 2400 X 1200 DPI print resolution. From a business perspective, this wide-format printer can easily print a batch of small designs which you can later cut and apply on your preferred substrate. Since this is a premium printer, you get all the bells and whistles including rich connectivity options like a bigger 4.3″ LCD touchscreen display, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a massive 50-sheet auto-feed tray, and a cutter to split the designs into individual units.
Epson includes the whole sublimation kit including 24” and 17” paper rolls and 2 full CMYK sublimation ink sets. Along with that, you get access to the Epson Edge Print Software which makes the design come out vivid. But the warranty is still one year like the Epson F-170. For the $2100 price tag, the printer has no issues except the wide footprint and is certainly fit for users who need something reliable to speed up their printing process.
- Can print up to 24” designs
- Split the individual designs with the rotary cutter
- Vivid and natural print output with rich details
- Includes sublimation material and printing software
- Slightly expensive model
- Takes up a lot of space on a workbench
Currently, the Epson F-170 and F-570 are two true dye-sublimation printers that you can pick up with moderate investment. But after these two models, Epson only offers professional-grade dye-sublimation printers that are fit for factories or a large-scale sublimation production unit. Make sure to avoid any sublimation printer which is more than two years old or is discontinued by Epson.
3. Workforce models
Epson Workforce printers 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 13×19 inches. If you go with the Workforce Supertank version, you can create a formidable sublimation printer with easy ink replacement and wireless connectivity features.
WorkForce ST-C2100 starts at $359 but only offers a 5 PPM output and isn’t superior to the EcoTank T-2800. It has the same external ink tank feature, the only difference being the wide paper size support.
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.
But if you go with the Workforce printer model that uses ink cartridges, syringes are the only option. They have individual cartridges for each color that are a pain to refill.
Sometimes the air bubbles enter the cartridge, and it chokes up. So all these pain points make it very difficult to recommend a standard Epson Workforce printer.
You have to purchase empty refillable cartridges and fill inks with a syringe. You got it. That’s why people choose Ecotanks over Workforce models.
Select something dirt cheap like the WorkForce WF-2930, which retails for $159 if you cannot afford any EcoTank printer.
Here is a List Of Epson Printers that Can be Converted For Sublimation
So by now, you got an idea of which one to choose between the Ecotank and Workforce models. In short, eco tanks are more user-friendly and easy to use as only tanks are to be refilled with an auto-fill bottle made by various brands, Whereas for workforce models, you need to buy empty refillable cartridges separately to insert sublimation ink using syringes.
- 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)
Pros And Cons Of Epson Converted Printer
It is very cost-effective, especially for beginners. When I started my custom designing venture, I didn’t have to buy a top-of-the-line sublimation printer.
You don’t need to buy expensive ink cartridges. Buy a pack of ink colors from a trusted vendor, such as Hiipoo, and refill when the cartridges are empty.
It will void your warranty. Espos won’t offer any help or service to repair the printer if it malfunctions. You will have to take the help of a third-party repair service.
You will have to do a lot of tweaking to get the correct color output. In my first attempt, I had to perform multiple print head cleanings to fix the color output.
It is also hard to find technical support for a converted Epson printer. You will have to reach out to the community to find someone who faced the same problem earlier.
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.
The Epson EcoTank and Workforce printers have equally good printing capabilities and offer easy conversion. But if I focus on cost-effectiveness, the EcoTank will be my best bet. I suggest converting the Workforce series printer only if you want to print large sizes and can bear the syringe ink-filling process.
Yes, Epson both ET 2800 and ET-2803 are cheap and can be used for sublimation transfers. They both produce great print results.
Epson Surecolor F170 and F570 are the two printers made by Epson for Sublimation. But the most popular and widely used models are the Convertible eco tanks like Epson EcoTank ET-2800, ET-2803, ET-2760, and ET-4760
Any Epson Ecotank printers are very easy to convert, as they have ink tanks instead of cartridges. The tanks can be filled with auto-fill sublimation ink bottles.
Yes, you can use any Epson eco tank printer for sublimation, just you need to use sublimation ink instead of regular ink.
Yes absolutely. It’s one of the budget Epson printers that can be used for sublimation
Yes, Epson wf-4833 can be used for sublimation
It’s not a dedicated sublimation printer, but it can be converted to sublimation by filling the tanks with sublimation Ink. This is a great choice for people who prefer a wide format (13” x 19”) desktop printer.
No, you need a special sublimation printer or inkjet printers that use that have piezo printheads like Epson eco tanks and workforce models.