Best Sublimation Printer for Beginners – Complete Guide [Updated 2023]

New in the sublimation scene? We round up the best sublimation printers for beginners to turn your art from noob to dope. Well, the sublimation industry is all messed up. We remember wasting our 15k in the initial stage buying printers that say “sublimation-friendly”, only to convert it and have a “dead box”. Plus, the warranty doesn’t work either, hence, a complete disaster!

Best Sublimation Printer For Beginners

The problem is, we still see people getting fooled today. So here, we’re not only bringing up the best beginner sublimation printers, but also getting you entirely informed about how to make your decisions, what exactly are sublimation printers, and how it works.

So what is a sublimation printer and which one is best for beginners?

A sublimation printer uses inkjet technology that dries the ink as it contacts the paper, so you can transfer the print from the paper to the final substrate through a heat press. And well, for a novice, the best sublimation printer that ideally performs this duty should be:

  • Easiest to use
  • Doesn’t clog
  • Works smoothly and efficiently
  • Provides the best quality
  • Have quick and comprehendible functions
  • Budget-friendly

As per our expertise, the printer that matches this description the best is the Epson EcoTank ET-2720–the lovely sublimation machine. Unfortunately, it was discontinued after the launch of Epson EcoTank 2800, with better quality and performance.

Along with this, we had success with a few other printers. And before we get down to reviews, let’s make this clear that you don’t need to get the “top-selling” or a “high-volume” sublimation printer that mortgages your property papers. A simple, performing, and result-oriented printer works fine, and with time and experience, you can eventually decide which way it leads you to.

Though, here we compiled a list of the best beginner sublimation printers to cater to a large audience. So whether you’re trying sublimation for fun, or really serious to take it to a bigger level, we’ve got you covered.

RATING PRODUCT IMAGE

RATING 9.8

Sawgrass SG-500

Best Features:
Free subscription of creative studio
Automatic Maintenance Mode
Pre-installed sublimation ink

Sawgrass SG-500

RATING 9.7

Epson Surecolor F170

Best Features:
PrecisionCore microTFP printhead
Packed with Epson T49M Ink Bottles
Cheapest sublimation printer

Epson Surecolor F170

RATING 9.6

Epson WORKforce WF 7840

Best Features:
Epson Smart Panel app
Display: 4.3″ LCD touchscreeny
Wireless and high-speed USB connectivity

Epson WORKforce WF 7840

RATING 9.5

Epson EcoTank ET-2720 ET 2800

Best Features:
Compatibility with smartphones, PC, laptops
Cartridge-free printing
Ink replacement bottles
Micro Piezo Heat-Free Technology
hands-free voice-activated printing

Epson EcoTank ET-2720 ET 2800

RATING 9.5

Epson EcoTank ET-2803

Best Features:
High-potential ink tanks
MicroPiezo inkjet technology
Functional Scanner & Copier

Epson EcoTank ET-2803

RATING 9.3

Epson EcoTank ET-15000

Best Features:
EcoFit ink bottle design
2.7″ color touchscreen
hands-free voice-activated printing

Epson EcoTank ET-15000

RATING 9.2

Canon imagePROGRAF iPF770

Best Features:
Canon’s cloud portal solution1
imagePROGRAF Print Utility2 mobile app
Sub-ink system

Canon imagePROGRAF iPF770

1. Sawgrass SG-500 – well-rounded printer for entry level artists

9.9/10 – Our Score

Sawgrass SG-500
01

Printing Specs
and Dimensions:

  • Layout size:
    4×6 to 8.5×14
  • Printing speed:
    45 second per paper
  • Printing mediums:
    mugs, t-shirts, canvas
  • Warranty:
    2 years

Sawgrass made the SG-500, replacing its previous model SG-400, with entry-level sublimation in mind. As such, it kept the price, functions, printing quality, and maneuverability extremely friendly to the rookies.

First, it comes with the SubliJet ink, they’re currently the most high-end ink known for its excellence. It’s denser than most sublimation ink and thus provides printouts that last forever. Also, it’s the reason behind its accurate and vibrant colors. Though, if the print on paper comes out dull, don’t lose your temper, it usually keeps the colors lighter on paper and gives it full color in the transfer.

If you’re inclined towards the creative studio (like us) for designing, hold your breath because here you’re getting its free subscription. Plus provides 30 times more catchy designs than the Cricut Studio.

just unboxed my new Sawgrass SG-500
Just unboxed my new Sawgrass SG-500.
Paper Holding tray
To open up the paper holder you just squeeze the bottom and the top and pull the drawer out.
Installing ink cartridges in sg-500
Installing ink cartridges in SG-500.

    The unique aspect of this printer is the brand’s customer service, i.e. they keep an agent for you to carry out sublimation. It teaches everything about the printer, its functions, working, and, in case you run into unfavorable situations, i.e., printer clogging, blurred prints, color settings, etc.

    The rest of the features include 4×6 to 8.5×14 media size at 4880×1200 dpi that goes perfectly with your mug logos and minimal T-shirt designs. At an early stage, we’d also recommend you stay back from trying large-format or full print. 

    The installation of the printer involves connectivity to Wi-Fi, and there you can set up the color profiles, size, and printing type. In the absence of Wi-Fi, you can help yourself with the USB or any ethernet cable to your digital devices. On the backside is the LED display that keeps you updated about the printer. And for maintenance, here’s an automatic system installed that takes up all your worries.

    • Pinpoint accuracy at the highest resolution
    • Doesn’t require hectic installation processes
    • Comes with free designing studio
    • Improvised design from its previous model
    • Not provide quality results for large designs

    Most advantageous for:

    Too terrified of the conversion, or can’t risk the warranty? Well, the Sawgrass SG-500 is the way to go. Its endless perks, including the easy setup, high-resolution pictures, an excellent transfer rate, and above all, the budgeted price makes it fulfill every beginner’s expectation with no bother.

    2. Epson Surecolor F170 – cheapest sublimation printer for beginners

    9.8/10 – Our Score

    Epson Surecolor F170
    02

    Printing Specs
    and Dimensions:

    • Layout size:
      13 x 19
    • Color options:
      4 (C, M, Y, K)
    • Printing resolution:
      600 x 1200 dpi
    • Printing mediums:
      mugs, canvas, key chains, acrylic

    After the Epson Ecotank series, Epson introduced its first dye sublimation printer in November 2020–the Surecolor F170. In this printer, they’ve kept the design as compact as the EcoTank series, while the installation of sublimation ink brings innovation into the Epson Lineup. Besides being the first pre-installed sublimation printer, it’s the cheapest one in the market as of 2023.

    SureColor-F170
    t-shirt-printed-by-epson-sure-color-f170

    With sublimation ink, it eliminates the process of conversion and thus lifts up the nightmare from the heads of beginners. Though we didn’t find the ink as interesting as the Sublijet, it provides enough vibrant colors that it can withstand 6-7 washes. Also, it’s because of the 600 x 1200 resolution of the printer that retains back the quality. 

    However, PrecisionCore MicroTFP printing technology in the printer backs up the smudge-free and blur-free printouts–only if you’re not printing T-shirts. These are the facets making Surecolor F170 the best sublimation printer for beginners.

    Apart from fabric sublimation, it takes up canvas sublimation to the advanced level with quite an exceptional quality. The media size it offers is 13 x 19, but as we speak of the quality here, we’d suggest that you stay on the A4 size to have maximum results out of it. And for the colors, try the shades of magenta and yellow.

    Wi-Fi connectivity is here for the installation of the printer. All its navigation is placed on the outside of the panel. Here, the printer also caters to the printing settings. Furthermore, it comes with the Epson T49M Ink Bottles that run for one and a half years regularly. Also, it’s compact and easy to carry–thanks to its 10 lbs overall weight and 13.7″ x 13.7″ x 7.4″ size. 

    However, one drawback of the printer is that it usually stays out of stock, or many manufacturers on Amazon are selling the same printer with various names under the SURECOLOR label, making the users confused about which one actually is the F170.

    • Lightweight and Compact design
    • Excellent for mugs and canvas printing
    • Comes with pre-installed sublimation ink
    • Budget-friendly
    • Not work well for fabric sublimation

    Most advantageous for:

    Epson Surecolor F170 is the best pick for those who crave quality and cost-effectiveness–with no risks. This beast gives an excellent result on a budget, without risking the warranty, so go on and set up your shelf with sublimation with this money-friendly machine!

    3. Epson WORKforce WF 7840 – for small-scale industries

    9.7/10 – Our Score

    Epson WORKforce WF 7840
    03

    Printer Specs
    and Dimensions:

    • Layout size:
      13 x 19
    • Color display:
      4.3″ LCD
    • Printing resolution:
      4800 x 2400 dpi
    • Printing mediums:
      fabrics, ceramics, and wooden surfaces

    Epson WorkForce WF 7840 is the latest version in the 78xx Epson WorkForce series, overthrowing the 7820, besides replacing two previous well-known models, i.e. 7710 and 7720.

    unboxing-WF-7840
    epson-wf-7840

    7840 follows a similar outer design to the 7820, with a 4.3″ LCD touchscreen and classic black color. It also shares the size, so you’ve to keep it in one place and never move it again–wish they could make it a bit compact, but never mind.

    However, they’ve significantly improved the printing quality in this. The clogging issue and nozzle blockage feel like the printer doesn’t even know these terms. While the best part is, it keeps the printing result the same whether you’re on 4 x 6 or 13 x 19. Because of this compatibility and smooth working with larger designs; it makes an excellent home-based and small-scale sublimation for those who are just stepping into the industry.

    The wide format of the printer allows curtain, T-shirts, pillows, and bag sublimation at an immense resolution of 4800 x 2400 dpi. Plus, it also sets wood with vibrant design permanently, and much as wood sublimation is tactful, it’s one of the rarest printers having success in the wood sublimation arena. Through its Smart Panel app, you can configure the printer’s settings. The wireless connectivity further aids if the printer gets hung. Plus, its dual big trays are what we love the most. As it supports 500 pages in the front tray, here you can store up sublimation sheets bundles, while the rear tray is for keeping glossy, matte, and other minor accessories.

    • Easiest connectivity and running
    • Smart app and touchscreen
    • Fast printing
    • Compatible with all surfaces
    • Bulky

    Most advantageous for:

    This printer is best-suited for small-scale or home-based sublimation businesses who want to gain an extra out of their newly launched business. With the minimum upkeep and compatibility with almost all the surfaces, it’s your talisman that’ll always bring you nuts!

    4. Epson EcoTank ET-2720 ET 2800 – for home use (easy to Use)

    9.9/10 – Our Score

    Epson EcoTank ET-2720
    04

    Printer Specs
    and Dimensions:

    • Compatibility with smartphones, PC, laptops
    • Cartridge-free printing
    • Ink replacement bottles
    • Micro Piezo Heat-Free Technology
    • hands-free voice-activated printing

    Epson EcoTank ET-2720 plays a key role in where our industry stands. It’s an all-in-one printer that goes beyond meeting your sublimation needs to providing you with the easiest of use by allowing you to print mugs, T-shirts, and all the paper types–with scanning, and ink-jet printing features built-in. 

    Now the printer comes with the model name ET 2800–an absolute beast with improved design and two times better inking system and energy usage. Although, some sites still have ET-2720 in stock, and you can check your luck here through this link to save yourself a handful of dollars. 

    My Epson EcoTank ET-2800
    First sublimation print from my ET-2800

    Micro Piezo Heat-Free Technology enables the printer to be converted with no hassle and degradation in quality. It gives out the accuracy, besides taking down energy use. Though the printer says it supports several types of paper, we suggest going only for the sublimation papers (go for Hiipoo for a plus point) because after installation the sublimation ink doesn’t work well with glossy and matte papers, plus the transfer rate gets poor too. 

    What makes it the best bet for newcomers is the cartridge-free use. It caters to the sublimation of any brand, and the syringes in the process get way easier and mess-free. Additionally, it saves up a lot of ink wastage by eliminating cartridges with easy ink refills.

    Another plus is the connection availability of various devices such as laptops, PCs. and other ethernet cables including wireless connectivity for Wi-Fi. This allows for direct connectivity and getting the stuff printed quickly. Plus, you can connect the printer to any online design software space and send the design directly. 

    Its scanner works fine as well, even after conversion, which is just another reason to value this printer at such a low cost. However, one thing that we think is missing in the printer is the LCD touchscreen. Although voice printing very much eliminates the use of LCD screens for navigation, you won’t be needing that already.

    • Easy ink replacement
    • Larger control panel
    • Printability on any paper type
    • Highly economical
    • Excellent printing quality
    • No touch screen display

    Most advantageous for:

    Epson Ecotank ET 2720 has one of the top-rated features of which economical energy and ink usage covers up to 95% of the additional expense on the printer. It is best for anyone looking for a cartridge-free printer for both office and home use.

    5. Epson EcoTank ET-2803 – best entry-level printer with upgraded performance

    9.5/10 – Our Score

    Epson EcoTank ET-2803
    05

    Printer Specs
    and Dimensions:

    • Layout size:
      8.5″ x 14″
    • Printing resolution:
      5760 x 1440 dpi
    • Printing mediums:
      T-shirts, ceramic surfaces

    Similar to the EcoTank 2800, Epson Ecotank ET-2803 is another easy convertible printer that Epson dropped last year (2021). It’s more inclined towards giving an effortless performance, though, with a high-end nozzle system, better print-out results–and, of course, with a few more bucks. 

    The navigation bar is outside the printer, although you can set up the control through the Epson app after connecting it to your mobile phone or PC. Like its previous models, it also keeps you updated about the ink life and has an LCD outside. About the ink, we’d suggest that you go with the Hiipoo, Printer Jack, or any other with a thin density. Otherwise, it gets the printer nozzle blocked. 

    At 8.8 pounds, the printer comes at a miniature size, besides not compromising on the print size as Canon does in their compact printers lineup, i.e., Pixma. Plus, the borderless prints give your canvas such a professional look that you can even start selling them. 

    In fact, last year’s trends show a higher selling point for Epson 2803 than 2800, although both launched on the same day. The performance is relatively better in the newer one, however; the reason was also the difference between retailers where they’re sold at. 2803 is a product of Target and Walmart, but their product has recently made its appearance on Amazon.  

    Apart from the sublimation, its scanning and copying give a hit, even after the conversion. We love how it tackles our basic office work with ease.

    • Professional look with borderless design
    • High resolution prints
    • Easy interface
    • Provides smooth running
    • Tends to get clogged with high-density ink

    Most advantageous for:

    While keeping up the controls and functions easy and comprehendible, this newer version of Epson EcoTank ET-2803 provides 3 times more quality results, and is ideal for those to whom money is not an issue, but “just satisfactory” result is.

    6. Epson EcoTank ET-15000 – well-budgeted wide format printer

    9.4/10 – Our Score

    Epson EcoTank ET-15000
    06

    Printing Specs
    and Dimensions:

    • Layout size:
      13 x 19
    • Printing speed:
      50 sec per paper
    • Printing resolution:
      4800 x 1200 dpi
    • Printing mediums:
      fabrics, ceramics, and acrylic

    Mitsubishi is another resourceful printer loaded with a lot of features that you can benefit from for a long time period. 

    The EcoTank ET-15000 sits in the same row as the WorkForce, however, with the least risky and hassle-free conversion and heavier performance. 

    At 4800 x1200 and a speed of 50 secs per paper, it works exactly the same as the workforce. Though, it’s half of the weight of the Workforce 7840, making it easy to move. But obviously, the Workforce, being heavy and possessing a hefty operating system, can last longer than the ET-15000. And we think, in the initial stage, you’d require compactness, comprehendible interface, and quality more than heavy-duty working. 

    Dual tray system for specialty and regular papers

    It also prints on the dual side–well, you won’t need that–but as a beginner sometimes, you’d get confused as to which side to print, so here you can get the design on both sides, and after the page is out, you’ll know the printed side.

    Like all other Epson, it’s stand-by on Wi-Fi, Ethernet, USB, and whichever smart device you have, just connect it to the printer and have your designs transferred. For a plus, connect to the PC more often than the phone (android especially). Otherwise, it takes longer than usual.

    • Support large format printing
    • High-speed printing
    • Dual side options
    • Compact design
    • Need intervals after every hour

    Most  advantageous for:

    Epson EcoTank ET-15000 is for those startups to whom cartridge working is a turnoff, while they can’t settle for an 8.5″ x 14″ layout design. Hence, with large-format printing, the way this printer provides accuracy, speed, and quality prints is more than ideal for lazy sublimation freaks.

    7. Canon imagePROGRAF iPF770 – fastest sublimation printer

    9.3/10 – Our Score

    Canon imagePROGRAF iPF770
    07

    Printing Specs
    and Dimensions:

    • Layout size:
      23.39″ x33.11″
    • Printing speed:
      25 secs
    • Resolution:
      1200
    • Printing mediums:
      posters, signage, ceramics, acrylics, T-shirt

    Canon is no less than Epson and Sawgrass when it comes to providing high-end prints, reliability, and a budgeted price. Canon printers usually stay in the controversies, because it’s a “dye-sub” technology, which is sometimes misunderstood as DTG or only limited to photo cards only. 

    Similarly, the imagePROGRAF iPF770 states “poster and signage”, but due to its A1 size support, you can print a large design on the sublimation paper, and then transfer them. Well, for the best transfer, you may want to use Cricut instead of the heat press to have more vivid outputs. 

    Canon imagePROGRAF iPF770 - fastest sublimation printer
    control panel of Canon imagePROGRAF iPF770

    Plus, the printer has 5 ink tanks (yes, like the Epson), which provides longer and mess-free ink working for the printer. Also, there’s Canon’s cloud portal solution1, in case you run into a malfunction. However, you need to access it through apple devices only to operate this software. For Android, you can download the imagePROGRAF Print Utility2 mobile app and enjoy hassle-free sublimation. 

    The speed and size are where this printer beats Epson and Sawgrass collectively. With the dye-sub ink, it provides a 36-inch printing area that gets your paper out in 25 seconds. Currently, Canon imagePROGRAF iPF770 is the fastest sublimation printer in this format.

    An interesting feature is the energy consumption of the printer. The printer goes ax for 140KW, even if you’re using the highest resolution and size settings, otherwise, it takes 5W to start. Though, it actually keeps you within the budget, whether it’s the maintenance, the price, or your electric bills.

    • Largest format printing at the fastest speed
    • Postage design software
    • Ink tanks system
    • 5 color options
    • Bulkier

    Most advantageous for:

    Canon had combined the customer care of the Sawgrass and the working efficiency and price points of the Epson in the imagePROGRAF iPF770 to provide the best of both worlds for anyone who considers everything, be it technology, reliability, functionality, and even the software!

    Things a “BEGINNER” must consider before investing in a sublimation printer:

    Sublimation printer guide for beginners

    If you are a complete beginner having no experience with how to buy a sublimation printer, then this Guide is a must for you. There are certain factors and features that involve sublimation printing for beginners that decide which is the best sublimation printer for beginners and the ease of use is on the top of the line. 

    Apart from easy usability, there are a few of the things that you are required to make sure otherwise you’ll be unsurprisingly facing the functionality issue in no less time.

    Cartridges: 

    For a beginner, going for cartridges is not a very wise choice. Even so, if you are considering cartridges then go for a printer that itself comes with a cartridge plus make sure it the working quality of the cartridges.

    cartridge

    In addition, the number of pages that the cartridge can print should be your concern at first. Plus, printing individual space per color is also crucial to ascertain. Other than that, don’t consider the cartridges of any other brand since they will affect the printing quality.

    Printing ink:

    Printing ink should only be the one offered by or comes with the printer’s manufacturers. If you are using some other brand’s ink with the cartridges, you are not going to get the same quality printing results as you expect.

    Printing-Ink

    Also, you have to keep track of when the ink is getting finished so you don’t run out of ink in the middle of your most significant printing work. Though, some printers have internal alarms that tell you when the levels of ink are.

    In short, consider the ink and cartridges of the same brand as the printer. Whilst, having advanced technologies in your printers is always a plus when buying one despite the heavier price point.

    Before buying a printer, look out for what materials exactly you need to get printed with the printer. Either they are mugs, fabrics, ceramics, or photos, and then choose the printer. Some printers have the accessibility to be used for multiple mediums and they are best for those who deal in different mediums.

    Print-Mediums

    It should be borne in mind that not all sublimation printers do the same work and could be used for any medium that you desire so you must have a look at what materials it offers to sublimate and then make your respective purchase. 

    Printing methods:

    printing methods

    Some printers use the heat transfer method while others simply print on the surface of the material directly. Regardless, that is completely a personal preference of what method you like the most and totally make your decision based on that. 

    LCD features: 

    Some of the printers offer navigation options by incorporating LCDs in them. These navigations help you use options like copy, paste, transfer, etc which makes your process extremely easy and time-saving.

    navigation

    Although printers with LCD come with a hefty price tag but considering the ease of use it enables, we would suggest these printers that buyers who plan to use them for the bulky workload on long-term use. 

    Quality:

    The quality of the prints must be the finest of all. They shouldn’t leak too much color nor should be too dim to the eyes. The printouts should be matched with the original layout to attain the best results.

    Print-Quality

    For a printer to be the best for a beginner, accuracy and printing quality must be at the top. 

    Resolution: 

    Printer resolution is measured in dots per inch (DPI). The highest resolution is most preferred in this regard whether you are a casual or a professional user.

    Resolution

    Printer no matter how many accessibilities and features it offers, if the printing resolution is not up to the mark, it’s of no use to you. 

    Layout size:

    After deciding on what materials you need to get printed, the next thing is to examine the printing or layout size. In this regard, one size is not identical for everyone. For example, if you want mugs or small ceramics printed, a bigger layout is absolutely not necessary.

    Print-Area-Size

    Whilst, fabrics and paper stuff, typically larger in size will be ruined by a printer with a small layout size. In addition, the layout size also transforms the overall size of the printer so you must closely consider this factor. 

    Connectivity options:

    Conectivity-Options

    Compatibility is an important feature that many people often neglect while purchasing a printer. Though, it does look like a small feature but gets the work a lot easier with just one option. Those printers, compatible with wifi, tablets, PCs, and smartphones, get you just click on the picture and print it straight away without wanting it to exist in its physical form. 

    Value of money:

    With all those features and the quality of components in mind, the last thing you gotta look for is the price of the printer. Though it actually comes at the top, considering the modernization and advancements in the printer, it’s justifiable to go for the pricier ones.

    Price

    The reason is, that printers originally come with a risky lifespan so it’s never suggested to go for the cheaper one because you are ultimately gonna lose it all so save up a little more and get the one with the most features and advanced technologies.

    FAQs:

    Inkjet printers, at times, come with a sublimation feature that allows for sublimation printing. Many Epson Inkjet Printers come with the ability to go beyond liquid printing to sublimate objects.

    Regular papers are not a very good bearer of sublimation ink therefore it is not a very good idea to use this ink for regular use.

    In order to get your sublimation done, the most important thing you need is the sublimation printer and sublimation ink. Other than that, sublimation paper, sublimation blanks, and a heat press are necessary tools for sublimation.

    Final words:

    In the end, we are pretty much sure you got a clear mind with all the facts and information to get started with your sublimation business or begin with the photo booth. However, the most critical equipment for sublimation printing for beginners is a printer. 

    Though, you can choose any printer of the above 7 yet here is what we think are the best sublimation printer for beginners. 

    • Epson EcoTank ET-2720 
    • Canon PIXMA TR4520
    • Epson Expression Home XP-4100
    Emily

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