Can you use Sublimation Ink for Regular Printing?

Being into printing of various kinds or having a huge stock of sublimation essentials can make anyone wonder whether or not you can use sublimation ink for regular printing. Though, we have heard a lot of cases wherein the purchasers of sublimation printers find that they cannot print using regular ink. This is because the heat from the printer melts the wax in the sublimation ink and therefore prevents it from being applied to other materials such as fabric or paper. Even though many companies claim you can, there are high chances that it will not work for you if your printer is already switched on and heated up.

Can You Use Sublimation Ink for Regular Printing

Well, sublimation printing is a breakthrough that allows you to dye various material types be it mugs, tumblers, phone cases, to even garments and metals. The vast compatibility gives rise to questions like can sublimation ink be used for regular printing? Can you print regular documents with sublimation ink? Can you use a sublimation printer for regular printing? And many alike! 

While we answer your question, there are a few facts and particulars about sublimation ink and printer, regular inks, regular printers, and their compatibility. So let’s get to unveil the mysteries it holds! 

Can You Use Sublimation Ink for Regular Printing?

So, can you use sublimation ink for regular printing?

“NO” you cannot use sublimation ink for regular printing. The reason is that “sublimation ink defuses onto the paper using thermal/ inkjet printing technology and the regular printer does not support it.” 

you cannot use sublimation ink for regular printing

In broader terms, sublimation ink uses heat and dyes on the paper to be used to get transferred with a heat press. On the other hand, regular printing uses digital technology that requires ink to be in liquid form during the entire process, and the print is final on the paper, i.e., regular prints cannot be transferred. 

That is why sublimation ink should only be used with printers that use technologies compatible with sublimation. 

Sublimation ink vs. regular ink:

Regular ink comes in liquid form and requires the printer the print in the same form. Sublimation ink has chemicals that force the ink to evaporate when the ink is being heated. This is why sublimation ink can’t be used on a regular printer because then the ink will evaporate, and the print won’t have a clear and vibrant image. The same goes for regular ink. You can’t sublimate using a regular inkjet printer’s ink.

Can a regular printer be used for sublimation?

Again the answer is “no.” The regular printer uses conventional thermal or digital technologies that use ink in its original form onto the paper. The sublimation ink, on the other hand, needs to be turned to gas in order to be transferred to the paper. 

Let’s give you an example of what happens if you use sublimation ink on a regular printer: 

You filled up the sublimation ink in the printer, inserted the paper, and pressed the print option. Within seconds, the ink starts to leak from the printer, and your paper will still be blank. 

the ink starts to leak from the printer

What happened? There wasn’t any technology that pressurized the ink to turn gas. Thus the vaporization didn’t even take place, and resultantly, you got nothing. Not just that, but you’ll also end up damaging the entire printer completely to be used with regular ink again. 

Sublimation ink compatibilities: 

Sublimation ink compatibilities

Sublimation ink is compatible only with printers using thermal technologies that allow for ink vaporization. With that definition, Canon, Brother, and HP instantly become ineligible to perform sublimation. Canon does have a dye-sublimation lineup that performs sublimation. One of the renowned printers in that lineup is the Canon Selphy CP1300. While brother and HP also have a few sublimation-compatible printers that they recently launched. However, the bulk size and expensive price does not make them attractive for home use and small businesses. 

So what printers are compatible with sublimation ink? 

Sawgrass company mainly manufactures printers for sublimation that are the most compatible with sublimation ink. Though, Epson does have Ecotank and WorkForce series that can be converted to sublimation printers. Because of Epson, many people ask, “Can you sublimate with inkjet printers.” 

Fortunately, “yes.” Inkjet printers can be converted either at home or with the help of any specialist. However, Inkjet printers have four main types of ink: dye-based ink, pigment-based ink, sublimation ink, and photo ink. The four basic ink types let you analyze which inkjet printer you own and what it can capable of.

  • The dye-based ink is mainly used in home inkjet printers because it is cheap and the quality is good enough for standard printing. Although, dye-based ink fades over time and it cannot be used for printing photos. 
  • The pigment-based ink is mainly used in office inkjet printers because it has a longer life than dye-based ink and can be used for printing photos. 
  • As for sublimation ink, it has the most extended life and can last forever. However, sublimation ink is very expensive compared to dye-based or pigment-based inks. Moreover, only certain types of Inkjet papers are compatible with sublimation ink. 
  • Lastly, photo ink is usually used for either digital cameras or printers since it can produce high-quality images and photos.

There are some other Epson inkjet printers that make excellent sublimation as well as regular printers. However, there are certain do’s and don’ts regarding sublimation conversion that we have explained in “how to convert an Epson printer to sublimation.” Make sure you give that a read before converting. In addition, printers that use sublimation ink cannot be converted back to regular printing. 

Can I use a sublimation printer for regular printing: 

If you are using sawgrass, the only ink it supports is sublimation and sublimation and thus, there’s no possibility of regular printing in that case. Epson printer, similarly, is converted to sublimation, and after that, using regular ink damages the technology’s ink, and you’ll end up with a non-operable box that is capable of nothing except ink leakage. 

Can you use sublimation ink on regular paper?

While we use sublimation ink with sublimation printers, let’s bring into the light, regular papers and sublimation papers. Again, the question is about the high cost of sublimation paper, so can you use sublimation ink on regular ink? Let us answer the question with the following explanation. 

Sublimation paper basically acts as a carrier of sublimation ink for the time being till it is transferred to the final material. The paper has special wax coatings and other substitutes that do not let the paper absorb ink, and thus, it can be converted as it is on the material. 

In the case of regular paper, the ink gets absorbed into the paper since it is treated with no coatings and pigments thus, it is unable to transfer the design and you won’t have a complete design transferred, let alone the colors will be faded too. Thus, any regular paper cannot be used as a medium to print with sublimation ink.

Well, there’s an exception. You can use regular papers if you don’t want to transfer the design any further. Meaning that you can print regular documents with sublimation ink. However, the colors will not be so vibrant because the true colors of sublimation ink come out after pressing the design on the material you want to sublimate. 

Can you use regular ink for sublimation?

Since you cannot use sublimation ink for regular ink, you might wanna know if there’s a chance of using regular ink for sublimation. Apparently, there aren’t any. Just like sublimation ink cannot support regular printing, regular ink cannot support sublimation because of different ink working and their relevant compatibility with specific technologies. 


Sublimation ink, despite doing wonders with mugs, shirts, keychains, canvas, and wood, has some limitations. It cannot be used with a regular printer and regular paper. It requires a special sublimation printer or your current inkjet printer to be converted. However, you shouldn’t be trying to convert “any” inkjet printer to sublimation. There are particular guidelines for each of the printers varying from brand to brand and technology to technology. So make sure you consult with the manufacturers first before installing sublimation ink to your regular printer. 


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