Learn what Epson printer for sublimation options are out there, so you can make the right choice for your crafting!
Sublimation is all the rage these days, and many crafters are taking the plunge into this fun and rewarding technique. Getting started requires a bit of an investment, though — with a sublimation printer being the key to amazing, full-color images. Printers are not all made equal, though, and you need the right one for the job — whether it be for personal use, gift making, or to promote your small business. Epson is a leading brand in the field, but which Epson sublimation printer is the best option? Use this helpful post to find the right balance of convenience, print size, and price for you and your sublimation needs.
What is a Sublimation Printer?
Before we delve into the world of Epson sublimation printers, let’s answer the question: What is sublimation? Sublimation is a crafting process where heat and pressure are used to transfer special dye onto polyester fabric or a polymer-coated surface.
To begin, the dye image is printed onto a piece of sublimation transfer paper, using a sublimation printer and sublimation ink — not regular printer ink. Next, the transfer paper is placed on the polyester or polymer-coated surface, where heat and pressure are applied. The dye vaporizes, enters the polymer material, and then changes back into a solid form — leaving the image “sublimated” into the material. Once the sublimation dye has been transferred, it is permanent, with vivid, vibrant colors — and with proper care, it will withstand fading, cracking, and peeling over time.
Due to its durability and colorfastness, sublimation is the perfect method for projects that will be used frequently or exposed to potential wear and tear. Projects like T-shirts, tumblers, blankets, and doormats are popular, as are items like holiday ornaments, keychains, coasters, garden flags, and even home decor like real slate plaques! More and more “sublimation blanks” are hitting the market every day, and there are so many to choose from!
And speaking of vibrancy and color, once you decide on a printer and set it up, be sure to download my free “subliflower” design to see how your sublimation ink colors look! You’ll find in it my free resource library (it’s design #385). If you don’t yet have a password to my library, you can get it free at this link. I’ve even got a handy post with 25+ tips for making sure your sublimation colors look their best!
What an exciting way to craft, right? That said, a sublimation printer can be a significant investment, so it’s important to do your research and choose the one that checks the right boxes for you. So, what Epson printer for sublimation should you get? You can go two main ways when it comes to at-home sublimation printers — use a purpose-built sublimation printer (easy, but at a higher cost) or convert an inkjet printer (more work but at a lower cost).
Epson printers are a favorite among crafters, so it’s natural that we’d turn to them for our sublimation printing needs. With various factors to consider, how do you know what Epson printer for sublimation might be best for you? Let’s dig in and find out!
Ready to learn about what Epson printer for sublimation I recommend? This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience (which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission but it won’t cost you a penny more)! Read my full disclosure policy.
What Sublimation Printers Does Epson Make?
Epson makes sublimation printers, as well as inkjet printers that are not made for sublimation but can be converted to use sublimation ink. Let’s take a look at the sublimation printers available from Epson.
Some (not all) inkjet printers can be converted to print sublimation ink. The most commonly-used converted printers are Epson printers, specifically the budget-friendly Epson EcoTank series. I’ve also found it’s the easiest printer line to convert to sublimation.
Converting an EcoTank for sublimation is a simple process when you use auto-fill bottles, but it can only be done on new printers that have never had regular inkjet printer ink inside of them. Don’t try to convert a used printer!
Once you introduce sublimation ink into an Epson EcoTank, don’t try to revert back to using inkjet ink. Once there’s sublimation ink inside your EcoTank, your warranty is no longer valid, because EcoTanks are “technically” (according to Epson) only meant to be used as regular inkjet printers.
All Epson EcoTank printers can be converted for sublimation, but which one is best for you? For me, it comes down to print size and quality. The Epson EcoTank 2800 is a budget-friendly printer which prints up to 8.5″ x 14″ pages with optimal print quality at a super high max 5760 x 1440 dpi and a back feeding tray. Another popular EcoTank printer to convert is the Epson EcoTank 15000 due to its ability to print larger page sizes (13″ x 19″) with a high maximum 4800 x 1200 dpi. I also like that it has a space-saving design with its front loading paper tray.
So, is the Epson EcoTank a good choice? Let’s break down the pros and cons!
Epson EcoTank Pros:
- Most popular sublimation printer to convert to sublimation on the market
- High resolution prints
- Easy to find
- Pretty easy to set up
- Features the lowest cost options in sublimation printers
- Ink is inexpensive compared to other printers, saving you money in the long run
- Some models print larger format pages up to 13″ x 19″ paper size
- May come with extra features like a front paper tray, fax, and scanning capabilities
Epson EcoTank Cons:
- Must be printed from weekly to avoid ink clogs
- Warranty will be voided once you convert
- No technical support from Epson with converted printers
- Lower models have a rear feed paper tray rather than the more convenient front tray
- Ink can be difficult to re-fill unless you’re using auto-fill bottles
It’s important to note that conversion is an “at-your-own-risk” endeavor, and we at JenniferMaker cannot be responsible for voiding your warranty, disabling your printer’s ability to function, or anything else. If you decide to convert an Epson EcoTank printer, you assume all responsibility for that action.
The Epson SureColor series is a line of purpose-built, professional-quality sublimation printers that’s been around for a while, but recently they’ve released the first Epson sublimation printer meant for at-home or small business use.
At under $500, the Epson SureColor F170 Dye Sublimation Printer is by far the most “budget-friendly” of the Epson SureColor F-series printers — whereas the next step up (the SureColor F570, a wide-format printer meant for commercial sublimation printing) costs a pretty penny at around $2,500.
The F170 is considered a high-performance dye-sublimation printer, but it only has a maximum 1200 x 600 dpi, which is less than the cheaper EcoTank 2800. Availability can be limited on this printer, and it’s not currently available for purchase on Amazon.
Epson SureColor Pros:
- A purpose-built, sublimation-specific printer so the warranty covers use as a sublimation printer
- Because it’s a true sublimation printer, Epson support will help you with sublimation-specific printer issues
- Very easy to set up because it doesn’t need to be converted
- Can print paper up to 8.5″ wide and 47.2″ long
- Comes with Epson brand sublimation ink
- Comes with Epson sublimation printer software
Epson SureColor Cons:
- Price; the F170 is on the high end of sublimation printers meant for home use
- Lower resolution than the EcoTank at maximum 1200 x 600 dpi
- Harder to find
- Ink refills are expensive
Printers like the Epson Workforce can also be converted to sublimation printing. However, the Workforce series of printers are being phased out, and are harder to find new. I have an Epson WF-7710, though the WF-7310 is a better deal at the time of this blog post. They also require empty refillable cartridges, which are difficult to find. Throw in the fact that you have the messy job of adding sublimation ink with a syringe, and I’ll be bold and say the Epson Workforce is not an option I recommend.
Epson Workforce Pros:
- Older model, so finding a great price is common
- Some models print wide-format, up to 13″ x 19″ paper size
- Great print quality at maximum 4800 x 2400 dpi
Epson Workforce Cons:
- Warranty will be void once used for sublimation
- No tech support from Epson when used for sublimation
- Older model, so it’s harder to find than the EcoTank
- Requires empty, refillable ink cartridges, which can be difficult to find
- Set-up is tedious, finicky, and messy, as is refilling
Remember, conversion is an “at-your-own-risk” endeavor, and we at JenniferMaker cannot be responsible for voiding your warranty, disabling your printer,’s ability to function, or anything else. If you decide to convert an Epson Workforce printer, you assume all responsibility for that action.
What Sublimation Printer Does Jennifer Use?
I have MANY sublimation printers, because I always try equipment before teaching you about them. My first was an Epson EcoTank-4760 printer that I converted into a sublimation printer. I chose it because it was on sale at my local Best Buy and it had a front regular paper tray, which I really like. Paper trays save time and material, and I’m a big fan of them! That’s not to say the lower EcoTank models aren’t still great — they just have the rear paper feed, which I don’t love. These days, I mostly use an Epson EcoTank 2800, which I love!
I also have an Epson SureColor F170, F570, and an Epson Workforce — along with a Sawgrass SG500, a Sawgrass SG1000, and Brother SP1. Lots of options! Still, my EcoTanks are the ones I use most often.
So, What Epson Printer for Sublimation Should I Buy?
Finding the right printer for you depends on your budget, your personal preferences, and your plans for use. The best choice for me may not be the same for you, and that’s okay! I hope this post has been helpful in comparing the current options Epson offers, so you can make an informed and empowered decision for your sublimation crafting journey.
That said, most of my fellow crafters and team members use converted Epson EcoTank sublimation printers because of the affordability, both in the machine as well as the replacement ink.
If you’re new to sublimation, the most affordable way to enter the world of sublimation printing is with a new Epson EcoTank printer and sublimation ink.
Where is the Best Place to Buy an Epson Printer?
- Epson EcoTank: I mostly use an Epson EcoTank 2800 model now (some of my tutorials show an Epson EcoTank 4760, but it’s less budget-friendly now) with Hiipoo Sublimation Ink and A-Sub paper (8.5″ x 11″)
- Epson SureColor: I use an Epson SureColor F170 (not available on Amazon) with Epson Sublimation Ink (not available on Amazon) and A-Sub paper (8.5″ x 11″)
- Epson Workforce: I have, but rarely use, an Epson Workforce 7210 with empty refillable cartridges filled with Hiipoo Ink and A-Sub paper (13″ x 19″)
I Got an Epson Printer for Sublimation! Now What?
Need a little extra help understanding how to get started with sublimation? Join Sublimation Startup for a logical, step-by-step guide to getting setup for success with sublimation! We work in logical steps to build your understanding and confidence with sublimation, and then provide support to keep helping you as you continue on your journey. You can ask questions and feel confident that you’ll get help! Join now!
And when you’re ready to tackle some serious sublimation projects, pick up my Sublimation Cookbook with one-page “recipes” for more than 150 sublimation projects, complete with all the times, temperatures, and pressures for ALL the sublimation projects you can think of. I update this resource regularly as new sublimation blanks hit the market, so it’s always up to date!
Answers to Your Questions About What Epson Printer for Sublimation I Recommend
Q: Which Epson printer can be used for sublimation?
A: There are three main series of Epson printer suitable for sublimation: The Epson SureColor, EcoTank, and Workforce.
Q: Which Epson printers cannot be converted to sublimation?
A: You cannot convert the Epson Expression, Epson PictureMate, or Epson Stylus.
Q: Can I use regular Epson ink for sublimation?
A: No! Sublimation can only be done with sublimation ink (also known as sublimation dye, or “dye sub”), not regular inkjet printer ink.
Q: Can all Epson printers be converted to sublimation?
A: Not all Epson printers can be converted to sublimation, but the EcoTank models can due to their fillable tank design. There are several EcoTank models to choose from with additional features, and you can decide which one is best for you based on your needs and preferences.
Q: Is it better to buy a sublimation printer or convert one?
A: It completely depends on what you mean by “better.” Everyone’s needs are different, so it’s important to do your research so you can make the best choice for you. There are pros and cons to buying dye sublimation printers as well as inkjet printers converted for sublimation. Only you can make the choice.
Q: What is the difference between Epson WorkForce and EcoTank for sublimation?
A: I compare both machines above, so be sure to read my thoughts as well as my lists of pros and cons for each. In my opinion, the Epson EcoTank is the best affordable sublimation printer for most crafters, but your opinion may differ — and that’s okay!
Q: How do you convert an Epson inkjet printer into a sublimation printer?
A: It’s easy to do, and I’ve got a full tutorial to convert your Epson EcoTank for sublimation in this blog post.
Q: Is a Cricut a sublimation printer?
A: Cricut doesn’t make sublimation printers currently, but you can use your Cricut cutting machine (together with your sublimation printer) in your sublimation crafts to Print-then-Cut sublimation transfer sheets for certain projects. Cricut also makes heat presses which are crucial to the sublimation process!
Q: Can you use the same printer for sublimation and regular printing?
A: While you cannot use a printer with regular inkjet ink for sublimation crafting, you can use sublimation ink to print a page or two on regular paper in a pinch. Sublimation ink is typically expensive, so you may want to invest in a separate regular inkjet printer, but it’s fine to print the occasional document from your sublimation printer if you need to.
Q: Can you go back and forth between sublimation ink and regular ink?
A: Absolutely not. Once inkjet printer ink has been in a new printer, it has to be dedicated to only inkjet printing. Same with sublimation — if a new printer is filled with sublimation ink, it is now only able to be used for sublimation ink. You cannot switch back and forth. If you need to use two different types of ink, you need to have two separate printers.
Q: How long can sublimation ink sit in printer?
A: Due to the nature of sublimation ink, you should print a test page at least once a week to ensure your ink is flowing through your machine correctly. This can be easily forgotten, but can really impact your projects — and not in a good way. So set an alarm on your phone and don’t forget! It only takes a few minutes, and is worth the time and effort to maintain your printer.
Q: What else do I need for sublimation?
A: Great question! You’ll need appropriate sublimation ink for your printer (I like Hiipoo sublimation ink), sublimation paper like A-Sub paper, white butcher paper, white cardstock, heat-resistant tape, heat-resistant gloves, and a heat source. For flat items, you’ll need a heat press (like a Cricut EasyPress or Autopress). For sublimating three-dimensional objects, you’ll need a craft-purposed convection oven or air fryer, because the excess ink will stay around inside and you can’t use it for cooking food afterward. There’s a Cricut Mug Press, a Cricut Hat Press, traditional heat presses or tumbler presses you can try, too.
You’ll also need sublimation blanks. Sublimation can only (typically) be done on white surfaces that are made of polyester or coated with a polymer able to accept sublimation ink. If the item is labeled as a “sublimation blank,” you’re good to go! For specific tools and materials for a certain project, be sure to check out each project’s materials list so you have everything you need before you begin.
But how will you know what heat, pressure, and time settings to use when sublimating? Pick up a copy of my Sublimation Cookbook with one-page “recipes” for more than 150 sublimation projects, complete with all the times, temperatures, and pressures for ALL the sublimation projects!
Q: Can I sublimate without a sublimation printer?
A: Yes! You can use infusible ink transfer sheets, infusible ink pens, or purchase pre-printed sublimation transfer sheets — all are an excellent choice, and there are many pre-printed sublimation designs available on websites like Etsy.
Get my free PNG Subliflower design to test your sublimation color settings!
Download my free “subliflower” design to see how your sublimation ink colors look!
I’d love to see YOUR amazing sublimation projects when you learn what Epson printer for sublimation (or other sublimation printer) works for you! Please share a photo in our Sublimation Made Easy Facebook group or on social media and tag me with #jennifermaker.