After corona, nearly everyone is getting affected with this new “customized T-shirt” trend. What Statista has predicted is coming true, but it seems the T-shirt printing business will hit the market with more than just 9.6% per expansion, between 2020-2025–record breaking, though. Having the closest view of the T-SHIRT sublimation market, we got the 5 best sublimation printers for T-shirts that help you secure your feet in the industry with higher profitable yields.
In the market, the equation is; “The best sublimation printer = well-profitable business”
And by the “best” we meant a printer with the minimum resolution of 1200 x 1200, takes just a minute to provide smudge-free prints, consumes ink and energy economically, and gives the ideal user-experience. So far, the three best models with these are the SAWGRASS VIRTUOSO SG1000, Epson EcoTank ET 8550, and DNP QW410.
- 1 Best sublimation printers for T-Shirts of 2022 (overview)
- 1.1 1. SAWGRASS SG1000 | Most versatile T-shirt sublimation printer
- 1.2 2. Epson EcoTank ET 8550 | high-volume sublimation printer
- 1.3 3. DNP QW410 | Dye-Sublimation Printer – for kid’s apparel
- 1.4 4. Digital Textile Printer MT-TA3 – for large-scale commercial use
- 1.5 5. Ricoh Aficio SG 3110DN – best budget sublimation printer
- 2 T-Shirt sublimation:
- 3 Here are the factors that make a sublimation printer best for T-shirts:
- 4 Conclusion
Best sublimation printers for T-Shirts of 2022 (overview)
1. SAWGRASS SG1000 | Most versatile T-shirt sublimation printer
The Sawgrass SG 1000 is a newer model of the SG800 with a cutting edge 4880×1200 dpi resolution and flexible media support for T-shirts and fabric. Similar to the SG500, it comes with 2 years warranty and tech support along with Sawgrass’ very own Sublijet UHD inks. Previously, these units come under the name of Ricoh Aficio. However, since its partnership, the quality shifted to the Sawgrass, and the printer known as SG1000.
It’s compatible with the accessories of SG800, though. If you’ve leftover ink cartridges, papers, and even a bypass tray, you can easily make use of them in this unit. Originally, SAWGRASS was an 11” x 17” printer, however, a new or old bypass tray can make it up to 13” x 51”. Majority of the producers in the industry prefer remodeling with an added tray. In fact, this tray further adds to the productivity and performance of the printer.
Although, we already covered its ink in-depth review previously when analyzing the best sublimation inks. And as per its economical use, the ink takes up 34% credit for reduced COP (cost of production). Overall, this printer has a remarkable reputation for saving electric costs, maintenance, and monthly cleaning checkup expense which resultantly rocks up your profits by an added 22% than the average T-shirt printing revenues.
With an improved outlook, it also has an upgraded working system. Compared to its predecessor, the newer model has further reduced the energy consumption up to 12%. Besides that, the printer comes packed with Sawgrass proprietary features, identical to the rest of the printers. These include;
- Creative studio; Sawgrass very own design software that comes with pre-ready design and images, plus one-year free subscription to use premium features.
- 2 year warranty along with a life-time tech support.
- PrintManager softwares for sublimation color profiles.
- Compatible with Wi-Fi, ethernet, and smart devices for remote printing.
Besides the creative studio, the printer is compatible with other premium software, i.e. Photoshop, Illustrator, and CorelDraw. Still, the best part about the printer that elevates it to achieve dramatic success is the DTG technology. It’s the only sublimation printer able to work on both dye-sub technology and direct-to-garment, giving you an edge to cater to a wider audience and legitimately ranking as the best sublimation printer for T-shirts.
The Sawgrass Virtuoso SG1000 is the perfect printer for anyone looking to get into T-shirt sublimation at a broader level with both dyeing and DTG technology. It is the only desktop printer designed for sublimation with low start-up and running costs, it’s easy to create vibrant, customized products quickly and profitably.
2. Epson EcoTank ET 8550 | high-volume sublimation printer
The Epson EcoTank ET 8550 is a great choice for you if your work involves running prints in bulk on sublimated fabrics. Compared to its predecessor, the 8550 is a wide format sublimation printer, in the Epson photo printer series.
Well, it’s the easiest-commercial level sublimation printer coming with ink bottles instead of cartridges, which saves you from chips and expensive kits for conversion. Plus, there are 2 extra colors in this, one is dual black, and the other is gray, besides the basic CMYK. Because of its black variety, it has received much popularity for printing shady designs. Also, you can upgrade the printer with fluorescent colors with a little cost, which competes with the industrial-level dye-sub printers.
The specs include dual input trays, 1 output, an LCD for navigation, and Wi-Fi connectivity. All of which makes it an incredible model at this price point. On the top, it has 5760 x 1440 dpi resolution taking up just enough ink, which further makes it valuable among sublimation printers in its price range.
Looking for a high-volume printer with a broad color range at a reasonable price? Look no further than the Epson EcoTank ET 8550. This printer was designed to print quickly and at a high resolution. Whether you’re looking to create custom shirts or just need a dependable printer for other fabrics, the EcoTank ET 8550 is perfect for you.
3. DNP QW410 | Dye-Sublimation Printer – for kid’s apparel
The DNP QW410 is a compact size printer that comes sublimation ready. For its limited media support of 4” x 6” it makes a great device for printing logos, designs, and typographies on T-shirts.
It’s the same unit as the EPSON EcoTank photo printer series which translates decently on the fabric–using a heat press or Cricut. Because of its smaller media size and vibrant color outcomes with a professional touch, it goes by the nickname of “Slushy.” Engineered with precision, this piece of machinery requires only $10 worth of electricity per year to operate.
It comes with a basic 300 x 300 resolution, which technically is low compared to the thousands of dpi offered in the Epson and Sawgrass models. However, those models also provide greater media size–of course, these require massive dpi to be clear and sharp. For the 4 x 6 size, 300 x 300 is more than enough, that can fit easily if you’ve T-shirt sublimation for the babies. Even with a little upgrade, it can sit with the 13 x 19 Epson or Sawgrass model with enormous efficiency.
With its compact design and low energy consumption, this machine will fit perfectly in your home or small business while weighing just 13 lbs. It’s easy to use and produces crisp prints that are ready to be used on T-shirts, bags, hats, and more!
DNP QW410 is a great printer for baby apparel and logo printing. Using dye-sublimation printing, this printer is energy and cost-efficient, and easy to use that even females can start their own setup with creative designs to print on baby costumes and earn barrels of dollars while sitting at home!
4. Digital Textile Printer MT-TA3 – for large-scale commercial use
This Digital Textile Printer MT-TA3 uses DTG technology–compatible with both sublimation and pigment ink. It’s a bulky unit with hefty features, dedicated to well-established customized garment dealers.
It works with 2880 dpi resolution in a 5-color ink cartridge system. Besides the CMYK, what’s unique is the white color which makes it able to print lighter apparel along with the darker ones. As advertised, this unit provides pictures at one minute per paper. However, upon testing, we found it fluctuated as per the apparel size and standby time. On continuous use, you can even expect the printer to take 2-3 minutes for a 24” wider size. Whereas, during the first hour, it quickens the process with each shirt at 30-40 seconds.
Although it’s an expensive unit, it secures the user from added equipment expense and potential sublimation risks. On the expense side, you’ll save;
- Cost of sublimation paper
- Heat press
- Vinyls (for cotton)
Even just that compensates 60% of the expense entailed on the printer. And that is just the initial cost. On a running scale it has a visible edge in the garment industry compared to any heat-transfer model. Any industry with an average of 40-50 prints per day can make up 20% over the actual cost of the printer within a year.
Besides the cost estimates, it’s reliable and consistent as it doesn’t rely on heat pressure for the transferring of true colors. Every print out of this printer comes out at the same quality and vibrant colors, be it lighter or darker.
And did we mention, you don’t have to be restricted to polymer shirts only? Well, yeah, another big plus of this monster machine is that you can print onto any shirt despite the fabric, which just adds to your profits for catering wider substrates.
This innovative digital textile printer makes it easy to create vibrant, custom-printed fabrics. With its intuitive touchscreen interface and wide range of dye sublimation inks, the MT-TA3 lets you produce stunningly realistic prints that are perfect for fashion, home decor, and more.
No-fuss, no muss—just print right onto fabric!
The MT-TA3 is your weapon of choice if you want to spend less time and energy printing custom apparel. The MT-TA3 digital textile printer puts the power in your hands with exceptional prints that save you (and us) a ton of money and effort!
Expert’s visual testing of MT-TA3
5. Ricoh Aficio SG 3110DN – best budget sublimation printer
Ricoh Aficio SG 3110DN is another well-rounded sublimation printer for budget-minded starters. It comes with GelJet ink, and though you can start off sublimation with this, however, its transfer rate often disappoints, so it’s better you take cartridges off and install sublimation ones to have better results.
The printer with dye-sub ink provides sharp and vivid images in a 3,600 x 1,200 dpi resolution. It’s not a high-volume printer though, but still can make up 5-10 prints in a day with a bearable energy consumption. It additionally allows connectivity with smart devices, besides WINDOWS and Mac.
Besides its technical specifications, it’s a highly flexible model with which the users can update as per their needs. With a box packed, it comes with a 250 sheets tray and 8.5 x 14 size format. But with the upgrade, you can extend the paper holding capacity from 250 sheets to 850 while the size can be taken up to 24” in width, which allows using wider paper rolls.
On the top of it, the economy mode in the printer just adds up the worth. It saves energy and ink while taking down the resolution, and still creating considerable printouts. On average, the economy mode saves 43% of the expense incurred on the printing. Plus, you can also benefit by planning your business strategy–offering the most attractive rates on the market. Unlike EPSON, it can be converted during its running-time with primary inks without the printer going mad. First, you need to clean up the printer with deionized filled cartridges, and then install sublimation inks. Now this printer comes with the name of Sawgrass SG500, after ricoh partnered with Sawgrass.
Ricoh is the entry-level choice for budget-minded people, planning to start sublimation as a secondary business that yields a considerable profit at a lower risk. If need be, you can always update this, per your requirements, so it’s always a 10/10 going for this side.
Basic setup of Ricoh SG 3110DN
As of 2022, anyone can enter the T-Shirt sublimation, but whoever stays really depends on the equipment they’re using, specifically the printing equipment. Because the printing machine decides the quality and final look of the T-shirt along with overall production per unit.
Previously, the two most common methods were screen-printing, white toner heat transfer, and simple embroidery; all of which are over the odds–considering the era we live in. Encountering that, sublimation printing resolves the issue for everyone, providing the best quality prints at an unbelievable price. It’s the sublimation printer to which goes the credit for why everyone’s making little blogs on Instagram for custom shirts.
However, the matter comes down to the right sublimation printer, and believe us, it’s a headache if you’re in a search of one without knowledge. Because there are just a few sublimation printers out there, from Sawgrass. The rest are dye-sub printers that’s originally advertised to cater to photos. Other than that, there are inkjet printers that provide a flexible conversion. And even for the “functional” sublimation printers, you need to abide by certain factors to make sure what you’re getting is the best after all.
Here are the factors that make a sublimation printer best for T-shirts:
Once you’ve check marked these 6 factors, you’ll officially be halfway getting your business to flourish with the perfect unit.
Even the smallest shirt for T-SHIRT sublimation is 28” X 18” (L x W) hence, media size is the crucial element for T-shirt printing. Rule of thumb: “the more the merrier”. Go for the printer with the largest media size because you don’t want to slice up your prints, which looks kinda unpleasant.
Desktop sublimation printers, however, usually come in 8.5” x 11” size. Some wide format printers even go up to 13 x 19 inches, which are ideal if you print designs/logos/ images–and not the complete shirt. Here DNP QW410 is the only exception that offers 4 x 6 size.despite that, it still is best to cater to kids’ variety.
Other than that, if you’re in the arena commercially, you should at least consider media size at 24”. And in that size, the choices you’ve are; Epson industrial printers with 64” width, brother and HP dye-sub machines. These are pricier though, ranging between $2000 to 40,000$ which, of course, sounds unrealistic to a ground-level entrepreneur.
Well, you don’t need to spend that much. Here’s the secret hack; you can extend the size with a bypass tray. However, your printer should be flexible enough to accept that.
How many printouts can a printer provide is the volume. For T-shirt printing, you normally need a printer with a high-volume so you don’t sit behind the pending tasks. It depends on the running time of your printer though, how long it can run continuously, the energy it consumes in that period, and the upkeep of quality.
On the top comes the printer jamming, and the blacked nozzles that 90% happens when you keep the printing running for over an hour, except that it’s made with quality software and operational system. Therefore, look for a printer with better interior maintenance–that can run for longer hours. As per our expertise, a good printer provides 20-25 prints daily with a well-maintained quality with no jams.
Colors and Resolution:
Then comes the factor that’ll get you the customers and their “trust”. Simply put, the better the colors and resolution you provide your clients with, the faster it’ll help you grow your business. Even for home use, you don’t want to wear an ill-colored, smudged, and disgusting print. Therefore, the quality criteria here is 5760 x 1440 dpi, that too with sharp and vivid colors.
And for the ink cartridges, 4-bottles are more than enough-they’ll provide you with all the expected color hues. However, a 6-cartridge is a plus point that doubles the shades you’ll get your prints in.
After the quality check, the interface is where your attention should be. It should be easy to operate with comprehendible options. Manufacturer’s app or manuals are a plus, that helps in getting along with the settings and editing. Overall, we recommend the printer with fear navigation and one-click settings-just like in Ricoh Aficio SG 3110DN.
Compatibility for printers isn’t just with different devices–as in connectivity–it goes further with whether the printer entertains sublimation inks, papers, of various types or not. Plus, how it transfers onto different fabric types. The best sublimation printer for a T-shirt is the one that works finely with any sublimation, accepts both high-density and low-density sublimation papers, and translates the design onto the shirt in vibrant color with at least 98% transfer rate.
Flexibility is defined as the printer’s ability to be updated with time. There are spare parts available on the market, i.e., bypass tray, input trays, third-party cartridges. All you need to see is, if your printer accepts these or not. In addition, there are system updates as well. For example, you can upgrade the software, editing apps, as well as the speed and media size.
A sublimation printer is a great way to get your unique designs on your t-shirts. It surely is the most risk-free business out there. However, with the best sublimation printer for T-shirts, make sure you’re keeping the quality alike with your heat press, garments, and the paper, to achieve the results you’ve planned in your mind.
We hope this list was helpful in finding the best fit for your needs! However, if we had to narrow the list down to one that fit under any circumstance, we’d go with the SAWGRASS SG1000. But of course, your needs might be different, so let us know your pick in the comment section.
Good luck with your new sublimated shirts.
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