sublimation printer

Ultimate Guide to Choose Best Sublimation Printer

Sublimation printer is still popular in the field of personalized printing industry. Why choose sublimation printer? Sublimation printer can print up to 3 kilometers of sublimation paper at a time. This greatly satisfies the needs of mass production and reduces the labor cost. For this reason, some people tend to choose sublimation printer for their business.

To choose best sublimation printer, 5 factors to consider: price, environment protection, printer quality, maintenance and after-sales service.

While the name sublimation printer may make the process appear complicated and technical, it is actually quite simple to grasp. Sublimation printer prints by the process which a solid material transforms into a gas without first becoming liquid. This means that during the dye sublimation printing process, the artwork is transferred to an object in a gas state using a high temperature heat press. It differs from traditional printing methods in that the liquid step is skipped. There are no drying inks on the printed object. By the way, Dye sublimation printer (printing) is same to sublimation printer (printing).

This type of printing is used by businesses and home designers to create graphics on clothing, signage, home decorations, company exhibits, and personal items such as coasters, coffee mugs, and other items.

What Do You Need for Sublimation Printing?

Actually, sublimation printing is not complicated. All you need is sublimation printer, sublimation paper, sublimation ink, RIP software, cutter, and heat press machine.

Sublimation Printer

The first and most important item is a sublimation printer. This technology is often seen in polyester fabric printing industry. The pattern of sublimation printer is breathable and soft, feeling like a part of the cloth. Therefore, sublimation printer is very suitable for producing sportswear, swimwear, yoga suit and other clothes that ask for better breathable performance.

Sublimation Paper

Sublimation paper is specially designed for sublimation printing. This paper is known as sublimation paper or transfer paper. Printing a personal work of art, a customized logo, a family photo, or any design desired for use onto the paper is similar to printing on office paper. Sublimation paper is of superior quality and excellent durability, ensuring that patterns will last for a long time.

Sublimation Ink

Sublimation ink is non-toxic and environmentally friendly. Sublimation ink usually dries quickly, improving production speed. It is also of good stability and vivid color capacity. After test, sublimation ink at good quality lasts up to 2-3 years for outdoor durability.

RIP software

Some sublimation printers include software for configuring what will be printed. These computer programs are known as RIP software (Raster Image Processor). Mostly used RIP software in the market is Maintop, Photoprint and CADLink. Only you design the patterns on computer via RIP software firstly than can you start printing.


A cutting device, whether a knife or a rotary blade, is also recommended for sublimation. This is required when making unique fabric items. Some cutting products include multiple options in one system to meet all needs. Hemming the material would also necessitate the use of a sewing machine. This is especially important when making SEG (or Silicone Edge Graphic) frames.

Heat press machine

The function of heat press machine is to transfer the design from the sublimation paper to the desired material, such as coffee mugs, t-shirts, and tablecloths. As a result, the heat press machine is also important in the sublimation printing process.

After heat pressing, the item will have a more vivid image that is resistant to fading, making it more durable in the long run.

How Does Sublimation Printer Work?

Compared with DTF printer, workflow of sublimation printer is a bit easy because it does not include powder shaking and oven drying steps.

Firstly, design patterns on computer.

Secondly, print the pattern on the sublimation paper.

Thirdly, utilize heat press machine to transfer the patterns to substrates.

What products can you print by sublimation printer?

Rigid Substrates – Polymer-treated non-fabric objects such as glass, plastic, fiberglass, and aluminum. These are non-bendable products, such as fabrics.
Rigid Blank Products – Many of these materials, such as custom mouse pads, cell phone cases, and drink ware, are available in bulk at wholesale prices. They are also known as “blanks,” which are products that do not include any designs or printing so that personal designs can be added.
Signage – Ideal for “click to print” e-commerce companies. Print retractable banners and other trade show displays on vinyl with ease. When you see signs hanging in front of stores or buildings, it’s likely that sublimation was used.

Polyester fabrics – Polyester fabrics are one of the most commonly dyed sublimated items. They are classified into two kinds:
Knit: Polyester products that hang and flow naturally, such as apparel, flags, banners, and custom printed table covers.
Woven: Longer-lasting items such as custom totes, fabric backdrops, and custom tents.
Home Decor – Businesses that sell to interior designers frequently use the dye-sub process. Ceramic floor tiles are a popular choice for bathroom, kitchen, and restaurant decor.
Photograph Printing – Arguably the most effective method for producing high-quality photographic images on canvas, magnets, and apparel.

applications of sublimation printer

What are the pros and cons of sublimation printer?

In a word, he biggest advantage of sublimation printer is the durable and last long printout, on the other hand, the disadvantage is the sublimation printing is at relatively high cost.

Pros of sublimation printer

Images will not crack or wear after several uses if this method is used, and the visuals will last as long as needed. This is especially important when dealing with items that will be used frequently over time. This type of printing will benefit everyday items such as clothing and bedding, which can be washed frequently without fear of distorting their appearance.

As previously stated, dye sublimation can be used on much more than just fabrics. If you want to get really creative with what you want to print on, such as making puzzles or personalized key chains, dye sublimation printing is the way to go. It leaves a plethora of printing opportunities, which are useful for crafting and business presentations where customization is a major bonus.

sublimation printer
Sublistar's sublimation printer

Cons of sublimation printer

The main disadvantage of sublimation printing is its high cost. While dye sublimation printers are designed for both home and professional use, they can range in price from $300 for a small home model to $600 for a higher-end model. Larger printers used for mass production can cost up to $10,000. Keep in mind that the prices are significantly lower than they were a few years ago, but also keep in mind that this is only for the printer.

Another significant disadvantage, as previously stated, is that this type of printing can only be done on polyester fabrics. For the best results, they must be made of 100% polyester. If you want to print on non-fabric items, they must be poly-coated for the process to be most efficient.

What Factors Do You Need to Consider to Buy Sublimation Printer?

Generally speaking, price, environment protection, printer quality, maintenance and after-sales service are 5 factors when choosing sublimation printer.

Sublimation Printer Price

Price of sublimation printers in different sizes varies from each other. In addition, printheads will influence the price too. The more advanced the printheads are, the more expensive the sublimation printer is. Therefore, you had better have a price budget in mind before choosing sublimation printers. This will also save your time.

Environment protection

Currently, environment protection problem has received increased attention. As a reason, environmentally friendly products gain more popularity in the market. When you ask for the details of sublimation printers, do not forget to ask for the sustainability, whether the device will produce waste that will do harm to the environment.

Sublimation Print Quality

You need to look for a sublimation printer with a high resolution and color accuracy to produce high-quality prints. Qualified printer will not only save your maintenance cost but also leave good impression on your customers.

Maintenance of Sublimation Printer

Under normal circumstances, these steps are enough for maintaining sublimation printers.

  1. Clean sublimation printers regularly.
  2. Use qualified sublimation ink. Poor ink will cause nozzle clogging.
  3. Check the parts regularly and replace broken parts to ensure normal operation.
  4. Make sure that the storage environment is cool and dry.

Although it seems to look easy to maintain the sublimation printer, some companies may have their own standards of maintenance. Hence, you need to know the maintenance time and steps before ordering. It will be very inconvenient for you if it is difficult or costs a lot of time to maintain your printer.

After-sales service

A good after-sales service plays a key role too. It can solve the doubts you have and prevent potential future problems. When you communicate with the supplier, you can learn about the after-sales service by asking warranty time, warranty content, whether providing technical support and etc. Besides, you can also scan the buyers’ reviews on website.


There are many brands of sublimation printers in the market. Check out and compare as many as sublimation printers to know that which sublimation printer will work best for you. Also, keep in mind that Sublistar’s experts will always serve you for any problems about sublimation printers.


Can I use sublimation printer to print on any T-shirts?

Sublimation printer can only print on polyester T-shirts or polyester-based T-shirts.

Yes, sublimation printer can print on hard substrates like mugs.

It is better for you to operate sublimation printer at least once a week to prevent sublimation ink from drying, which will damage the printer.

After tests, sublimation print lasts longer than screen printing.

No, sublimation paper cannot be reused.

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