BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details
Has excellent print quality with low running costs. Light and compact, compatible with SD cards, and has the ability to automatically print double-sided documents. Connects via Apple Airprint, Google Cloud print, and Epson iPrint for both iOS and Android devices.
Does not have an automatic document feeder. No ethernet connectivity.
Can wirelessly connect to smart devices to print directly from the Canon app. Works with Alexa. Provides decent colors and uses high-quality ink.
Ink can sometimes read as low even when it has just been refilled.
Is compact and fits on virtually any surface. Possesses a cost-effective Supertank ink system that is able to produce thousands of copies from a single ink bottle.
Prints rather slowly, and color accuracy is not great.
Affordable with excellent print quality and very low running costs. Easy setup and comes with 4 bottles of ink. No disposable cartridges, so you only have to refill the tank. Can connect wirelessly or with a USB cable.
No automatic document feeder. No ethernet connectivity or memory card support. Has low paper capacity.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
If you’ve ever considered starting your own customized printing business, you might have been put off by the cost or the involved technique. Fortunately, there’s a device called a sublimation printer. This type of printer can print customized graphics on coffee mugs, shirts, socks, and more.
The right sublimation printer for you is sized for your needs. For example, if you’re only printing coffee mugs, you can get by with a smaller model than if you need to print flags or banners. Also, your printer needs to have a decent resolution, at least 300 dots per inch, for crisp results.
If this type of printing is new to you, you’ll want to learn everything you can about what these devices can do. A comprehensive buying guide on the topic and some top-rated recommendations can get you started.
This is a technique that uses special inks and paper to transfer graphics to polyester fabrics and rigid objects. This allows users to add custom designs to a wide variety of objects, including T-shirts, socks, totes, banners, and coffee mugs.
It’s a two-step process. First, you use a sublimation printer to print a mirror image of the graphic onto sublimation paper, which absorbs the special ink without curling or warping. Second, you put the printed paper in a heat press. The heat instantly turns the dried sublimation ink into a gas, bypassing the liquid state, so it can be absorbed into and transferred to the final material. This is very important. It means the ink doesn’t lie on the surface of the object the way it does in many other printing processes, so the image won’t peel or wash away.
Sublimation printing doesn’t work on pure cotton. For best results, use fabric that is at least 80% polyester.
The size of the printer determines what objects you can print. For most, a printer that accommodates 8.5 x 11-inch paper will be fine. If you need to do any kind of specialty printing, there are wide- and narrow-format printers designed for that purpose. However, these models can cost several thousand dollars, so they aren’t the best option for the average user.
Print speed: Some sublimation printers are very slow, which won’t necessarily matter if you don’t print often or you only print small quantities. If you need to frequently print large quantities, you’ll want to look for a model with a faster print speed.
Self-maintenance mode: More expensive sublimation printers have an automatic maintenance schedule that helps keep the printer in top working condition.
Multiple functions: If you purchase a dedicated sublimation printer, all you’ll be able to do is print. This isn’t a bad thing. If you purchase an inkjet printer that you use for this type of printing, you’ll also have access to other features like scanning and copying, but you must use sublimation ink.
Some companies offer starter bundles that include ink, paper, design options, and more with the printer. If you're new to sublimation printing, this is a good way to start.
While it’s possible to do sublimation printing on regular copy paper, the results will be unpredictable. Sublimation paper is specially designed to uniformly absorb more ink to produce consistent, high-quality results.
To do sublimation printing on fabric, you need a heat press. This essential item uses heat and pressure to imprint the graphic consistently.
If you just need supplies, sublimation paper ranges from $15 to $25. Sublimation ink costs anywhere from $30 for bottles to $60 for cartridges.
If you're on a tight budget, you can purchase an inkjet printer that is suitable for sublimation printing. These cost between $280 and $350.
To get a dedicated sublimation printer that is specifically designed for the process, you need to spend $600 or more. At this price, you should also get a starter bundle that includes ink, paper, design options, and other extras.
Sublimation printing isn’t effective for patterns that will be produced in multiple areas because the color saturation might not be consistent.
A. One downside of sublimation printing is the limited materials that work with the process. On the plus side, those materials are extremely versatile. The best material to print on is polyester or anything coated in polyester. Ceramic is also great, but it needs a high-grade finish for best results. Polymer and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) can also be used for this type of printing.
A. Ceramic mugs come in three grades: A, AA, and AAA.
A. Possibly. There are two requirements for using a regular inkjet printer for sublimation printing. First, you can only use sublimation ink in the printer. This ink differs greatly from regular ink. If there is regular ink residue inside a machine you use for sublimation printing, it won’t work. Second, inkjet printers use either piezo or thermal technology for printing. Only a piezo inkjet printer will work for sublimation printing.
Get emails you’ll love.
Learn about the products you’re wondering if you should buy and get advice on using your latest purchases.