Best Sublimation Printers 2019 – Buyer’s Guide
Sublimation printers give you space to get creative by printing your designs on various substances such as mugs, t-shirts, phone covers, and more.
There are still many options on the market, and after learning about the sublimation process, you’ll be able to pick the one that suits your needs.
To narrow down the choices for you, I’ve put the best sublimation printers on this list.
Largest Print Size
Canon Selphy CP1300
300 x 300 DPI
4 x 6 inches
Sawgrass Virtuoso SG400
600 x 600 DPI
8.5 x 14 inches
DNP Event Photo Printer DS-RX1HS
300 x 600 DPI
6 x 8 inches
Epson Workforce WF-7710
4800 x 2410 DPI
13 x 19 inches
Wi-Fi, Ethernet, NFC
Epson Stylus C88+
5760 x 1440 DPI
8 x 11 inches
4 x 6 inches
Wi-Fi, USB, Mobile
The 6 Best Sublimation Printers in 2019
1. Canon Selphy CP1300
The Canon Selphy CP1300 is a great dye-sublimation printer that focuses on producing excellent quality photo prints of 300 x 300 DPI using a heat transfer setup.
More impressive than the quick-drying is how the printed photos are water-resistant to be more durable. This helps protect it from fingerprints and smudging.
Furthermore, you can prepare a printout using a smartphone connection. Alternatively, you can use the USB connection on the printer.
The CP1300 allows you to link the memory card in your camera to the printer to waste no time when you want to prepare a printout.
You can expect to get 4 x 6-inch prints in 47 seconds. Smaller 2.1 x 3.4-inch prints take 39 seconds.
While it may be a little slow, it has great connectivity options and prints high-quality, durable photos.
Finally, you can control the printing processes through the 3.2-inch color LCD and 4-way button in the center that allows you to navigate the menus.
- Control buttons are easy to use
- Compatible with variable paper sizes
- Tilt-up LCD gives you more control over your printing tasks
- Has many connectivity options
- Limited prints per cartridge
- Operation is a little slow
- Requires a newer phone for wireless printing
If you're looking for a very affordable dye-sublimation printer that works with satisfactory quality, the Selphy CP1300 gives you just that.
2. Sawgrass Virtuoso SG400
The Sawgrass Virtuoso SG400 is quite superior to any other option in terms of performance and design.
It looks like a regular printer but has a compartment at the bottom and a group of controls on the front panel.
You can connect to it through the Ethernet or USB 2.0 ports found on the top left compartment of the printer.
Handling media up to 8.5 x 14 inches, the Sawgrass Virtuoso SG400 prints at a fantastic 1200 DPI quality. At this resolution, it can produce 34 photos per hour.
If you want faster performance, however, you can set the quality to 600 DPI and increase the number to a whopping 157 photos per hour.
Moreover, the top-notch build quality prevents any jams or issues from happening.
Given the right set up, the Sawgrass Virtuoso SG400 can print on glass, acrylic, tile, plaques, reinforced fibreglass, or polyester fabrics.
The unit comes with ink and paper that are enough to get you started right out of the box.
- Works with various materials
- Can print big sizes
- Great resolution
- Comes with Creative Studio Software
- Excellent ability to transfer to polyester apparel
- Allows you to choose the optimum speed-quality combination for yourself
- Ink is quite expensive
- High upfront price
- Short warranty
Although the Sawgrass Virtuoso SG400 is a pretty expensive choice, it’s an excellent sublimation printer for T-shirts. What it has to offer is quite hard not to notice, but its price makes it more a business-level choice.
3. DNP Event Photo Printer DS-RX1HS
Looking for a fast printer to run your gift shop or booth? Check out the DNP DS-RX1HS for its business-class performance that comes at a more affordable price.
By inserting a roll of paper, you’ll be able to print a 4 x 6-inch image every 12.4 seconds. In other words, 290 per hour –which is an impressive capability compared to others on the market.
Alternatively, you can print 6 x 8-inch prints every 22 seconds.
Its speed is superior to that of the Sawgrass one, but its resolution is much less at 300 x 600 DPI.
An advantage it does offer is that it provides you with a choice between glossy and matte without changing media.
There’s no control panel. Instead, you follow up with a series of lights on the front and a port on the back of the unit.
You only get the power cord, a CD for the driver, and a 1-year warranty card –which isn’t any extras and explains why it’s slightly more affordable than a typical business-class option.
- Very smooth operation
- Fast performance
- Matte or glossy finish
- A little heavy
- Limited media sizes
The DNP DS-RX1HS is a good choice if you don’t like sitting by your printer as it works or if you’re the multitasking type as it has a fantastic overall capacity.
4. Epson Workforce WF-7710
The Workforce WF-7710 is quite an impressive option as it enables you to print up to 13 x 19 inches in size. You’d have to use an intermediary fabric to transfer something onto cotton, however.
The rear feet port gives you extra room for any specialty paper, and it's where you can apply a medium to use when you want to transfer something to a fabric for use.
What makes is so convenient is that the intermediary fabric can be any form that you want it to be.
The Workforce WF-7710’s printing resolution is quite impressive at 4800 x 2400 DPI.
Finally, you can connect to it through Wi-Fi Direct or Ethernet. It also has NFC connections to enable you to link your printer to whatever device it is that you need to print form.
- Power-efficient design
- Work with various printing materials
- Spacious 4.3-inch control panel allows you to adjust settings easily
- Solid construction
- Consumes a lot of ink with wide-format prints
- Cartridges are tough to align
The Workforce WF-7710 gives you great value for your money. Its design and interface are quite intuitive, so it serves as a option for beginners.
5. Epson Stylus C88+
Epson Stylus C88+ was designed for basic home use. It has a simple design and produces high-quality prints with a maximum resolution of 5760 x 1440 DPI.
If you’re looking for a sublimation printer that’s smaller in size but still has a clear resolution, the Epson Stylus C88+ is a very good choice for you.
To easily connect with it, you’ll find USB and parallel ports.
On top of that, downloading and setting up drivers is very easy, so you’ll always get to working as soon as possible.
- Versatile and has borderless printing
- Produce smudge-resistant surfaces
- Can’t work with larger items
- Doesn’t ruin remanufactured or refilled cartridges
While the Epson Stylus C88+ doesn’t print as big as I would have liked, what size it prints it does at a very impressive quality. It’s also easy to use and durable –giving you a great bang for your buck.
6. Kodak Dock PD-450
The thermal dye sublimation tech integrated into this unit ensures that your photos will remain with all their vivid colors.
The Kodak Dock PD-450 was designed to be compact and suit mobile printing. It can print with just a touch of a button. A huge bonus is that the Kodak Dock PD-450 can actually charge your smartphone.
Printing speed isn’t the best feature about the Kodak Dock PD-450 as it takes a whole minute to produce just one 4 x 6-inch print. That’s also the only size this unit can print.
But the wait is worth the while as the resolution is quite superb and the output doesn’t bleed or fade over time.
As for the connectivity, the Kodak Dock PD-450 allows you to print directly from a smartphone. At least as long as it has the old micro USB and not the new Type-C ones.
Moreover, it also has WiFi and PictBridge connectivity.
The package includes ten sheets of photo paper, a lightning adapter, a paper tray, and an ink cartridge.
- Great connectivity options
- Ideal for mobile printing
- Small footprint
- Doesn’t cost a lot to refill
- Limited capacity
- May feel a little cheap in terms of build quality
The Kodak Dock PD-450 is a special option as it’s more of a niche product. It suits those who want instant printing on the go. However, if you’re going to be doing heavy printing, go for another option.
If you want to print on different materials, you can’t work without a reliable sublimation printer. You should think about how compatible your printer would be with different compounds as well as printing medium setups.
Consider the Layout of the Printer
A lot of the sublimation printers you’ll find will be able to work with prints that go straight on the surface of your material.
However, there are some cases where your sublimation printer will utilize a transfer medium, such as a cotton sheet or other paper material.
Think about the Materials You’ll Print On
It might be more difficult to get a good final output if your sublimation printer can’t handle the surface that you’re trying to use. So you should know if you’ll be working with small cotton sheets or transfer paper materials.
Think About How the Cartridges Will Work
You should make sure that the cartridges in your printer can handle dye sublimation. You’re going to require specialized cartridges that focus on individual colors. Those colors include magenta, yellow, and cyan that work with the black cartridge.
Maximum Printing Resolution
You should look for a printer that produces the best possible resolution –how dense the image you produce may be.
The resolution is measured in DPI (Dots per Inch) and the higher that number is, the better.
And the bigger your prints will be, the more DPI you’ll require for the result to look clear.
Your Printing Medium Size
You should make sure that the layout of your printer enables it to work with different materials. So put into consideration the printing materials that you’ll be using.
Consider the Connection You’re Going to Use
Many sublimation printers can work with various connections to help you connect to them from many devices.
You should look for connections such as Ethernet link and Wi-Fi. This will make your work easier and help you manage any situation.
Test How the Printout Works
You should plan your printout well to get content that looks as professional as possible. So the type of printout you’re to get out should be taken into consideration.
What is a Sublimation Printer?
Sublimation printers are those designed to transfer images onto a substrate such as ceramic containers or polyester shirts.
They transform the substance from a solid-state to a gas one without it ever turning into liquid-state at any point.
Typically, a digital printer is used to produce mirrored images on paper that has been coated with a special transfer material.
What Can You Do With a Sublimation Printer?
With a sublimation printer, you can print on any substrate that’s been treated for sublimation.
This includes glass cutting boards, aluminum ornaments, cell phone cases made of special plastic, and hardboard. The latter is compressed wood that's been cut into different shapes for different purposes.
Moreover, you can sublimate on polyester garments. You can also sublimate other materials, but it should be at least 50% polyester for the final output to look good. This is because polyester (plastic) is the material that attracts the gel ink in its gaseous state.
Can Any Printer Be Used For Sublimation?
For the best output, I’d recommend using a sublimation printer.
However, you can still get good results with an inkjet one if you get all the settings right and execute the process well.
To use an inkjet printer for sublimation, you should follow the following steps:
First, install the proper software that enables the printer to perform the ink sublimation process. So you should get a reliable proper color management software.
Then, replace the ink cartridges in your inkjet printer with the appropriate dye sublimation cartridges that fit your needs.
Next, use the head cleaning function in your printer. This way, you’ll be able to produce a test page to make sure that the cartridges fit the printer and that the printer heads are clear enough.
Finally, add the sublimation paper or the material you’re going to print on to test your settings. Make sure that the surface can work with the material you’re using and that the material is adjusted well enough.
To pick the best sublimation printer, you need to ask yourself some questions first regarding what you’ll be using it for and how frequently.
If you're a business that'll be doing heavy-duty work but doesn't want to break the bank, I'd recommend the DNP Event Photo Printer DS-RX1HS.
If you’re looking for the highest resolution, I’d recommend the Epson Stylus C88+. It’s also quite affordable and gives you a superb bang for your buck.
Finally, the Sawgrass Virtuoso SG400 is the best for printing larger-size output. However, it does come with a pretty hefty price tag.