Best Sublimation Printer For T-Shirts | For Dark & Cotton

T-shirt sublimation printing is a great way to unleash your creativity and turn a profit. It’s understandable that you feel frustrated, since I was once in the same situation.

Initially, I believed that a standard printer would suffice for T-shirt sublimation, but I soon learned that I was mistaken. It was during a conversation with a friend that I discovered the importance of investing in the best sublimation printer for T-shirts. If you’re in a rush to make a choice, our top recommendation is the Sawgrass SG500. This printer boasts highly precise cartridges, enabling you to sublimate a wide range of materials.

If you’re looking for an affordable option that also offers cartridge-free printing, consider the Epson ET-3760, which comes with a cost-effective operational setup. And if you prioritize convenience and the ability to print T-shirts of all sizes, then the ET-15000 is the ultimate choice.

To be honest, it took me some time to find the best printer for T-shirts sublimation needs. However, as the saying goes, failure is often the stepping stone to success, and that’s exactly what happened in my case. My friend and I conducted extensive testing of printers, scoured numerous platforms for user reviews, dedicated hours to research, and meticulously compared printer features and prices to ultimately select a top-notch sublimation printer for T-shirts.

T-shirt Sublimation Printer: Factors To Consider

A sublimation printer has a number of important features.

1. Printing time

The t-shirt prints may be slow on sublimation printers when you choose large prints.Although there are some sublimation printers listed above that will provide you with a decent speed to save time. The ideal printing speed can be between 8 to 15 PPM depending on your printing needs.

2. Print Quality

The print quality is essential to get your vibrant personalized images sublimated on the t-shirts. Make sure to set the DPI according to the size of the paper. Also make sure after some time, fill the ink tanks or cartridges before they get run out of ink. Also, configure the media settings according to the paper type.

3. Paper handling

How many times do you plan to refill the printer’s paper tray? Of course, you don’t want to repeat the process after a few hours. That’s where paper tray capacity plays a significant role. Nowadays, the best printer brands offer large paper trays to facilitate up to 500-700 sheets easily. 

However, if you are not choosing a printer for commercial needs, ensure the paper tray can handle up to 200 sheets to prevent frequent refilling.

4. Connectivity

Do you prefer wireless printing, mobile printing, or wired printing? A sublimation printer with versatile connectivity options is ideal for multipurpose use. Modern printers offer Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB, and SD card slots to print easily and quickly. You may not find connectivity options in one printer but ensure it comes with a wireless connection for hassle-free printing.

5. Budget

You have considered all essential features, but it’s your budget that decides which printer is best for you. A printer’s price is determined by several factors. For instance, if you are buying a printer for commercial use with smart features, it may cost you $3000. On the contrary, home sublimation printers are available at low prices, such as $300.

Technology also plays an important role in the price of a printer. There is a high price tag for printers that have advanced features such as Alexa and a large touchscreen. On the other hand, sublimation printers with basic features have low price costs. 

So, which printer is best for you, basic or advanced? It depends on your requirements. However, it is advised to take some time and find a printer with decent features that doesn’t have a high price tag and fulfills your printing needs.

6. Maintenance

Most people ignore the importance of a printer when paying for it. Whether you are using it regularly or haven’t touched the printer for some time, maintenance is still essential for smooth performance.

There are connectivity, cartridges, and other problems that your printer may run into. Apart from these issues, paper and ink costs stand as additional accessories to be unkempt.

Make sure the printer comes with durable built quality for the least maintenance. Smooth printing ability, efficient ink usage, and connectivity are functions you need to look into to prevent frequent maintenance. Also, official apps like Epson iPrint help to perform basic maintenance tasks such as printhead cleaning directly from your smartphone, tablet, or PC.

Best T-Shirt Sublimation Printers Brands

Sublimation printers are produced by two brands, Epson and Sawgrass. There is no doubt that both printer manufacturers produce high-quality units with impressive features. These printers have some similarities and differences based on their performance. 

Sawgrass Printer Pros

  • High-quality colors and prints
  • Excellent performance
  • It is suitable for printing with sublimation
  • Documents can be scanned and copied

Sawgrass Printer Cons

  • High price

Epson Printers Pros

  • Print quality that is high in color
  • Documents scanned and copied
  • Low price
  • Innovative features

Epson Printers Cons

  • Ordinary durability
  • High Printing Cost

How To Do Sublimation Printing On T-Shirts?

All you need to do is follow the right instructions to achieve the desired printing results.

Sublimation printing requires the following equipment.

  • Printer for sublimation
  • Software for designing
  • Paper sublimated
  • Inks and dyes for sublimation
  • T-shirts and fabrics (polyester)
  • Presses for heat

Process of sublimation printing

Here is how you can easily go through the sublimation printing procedure.

1. Draw it up

In order to create a t-shirt, you must first create a design. There are tons of t-shirt design software available on the market.

Select the right one for your needs and create a t-shirt design you want to print on a shirt.

2. Print it off

Print the design on the sublimation transfer paper. In order to achieve ideal results, you need the best sublimation printer, the best sublimation paper, as well as the ink to achieve ideal results. Use the appropriate ICC profiles for the materials.

3. Heat press

Exposing the design to heat helps transfer it to sublimation paper and onto the t-shirt. The heat press ensures that the printer ink sinks properly into the fabric during the sublimation process.

4. Check it out

Release the heat press and take the paper off the t-shirt. Make sure to place the paper properly on your t-shirt to avoid any inconvenience.

The best shirts for sublimation

Material of the shirt plays an important role in achieving the best printing results. It is mainly dependent on the fabric that you choose that will determine the print quality. 

The best material for sublimation printing on t-shirts is polyester. The material has the right pores to allow the ink to properly settle into the fabric and provides ideal printing results.

The following materials can also be used for sublimation printing.

  • PVC
  • Poly-cotton textile
  • Polymer-coated plastic or metal
  • Polyester-coated aluminum
  • Ceramic
  • Polymer

Sublimation printing works great on light-colored fabrics. You can also print on dark materials, but the ink may not appear quite well like light-colored fabrics. So to sublimate the black color, you need to bleach it first.

The printing of sublimation on 100% cotton T-shirts is not recommended. They lack the right kind of pores for the sublimation process. Sublimation is possible on cotton and dark fabrics with Sawgrass printers. Check how to sublimate on cotton.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is it worth buying a sublimation printer?

In addition to printing fine detail and fine lines, sublimation printers are also ideal for printing all over. The low-cost setup makes it a perfect option for small runs, and printing results are simply unbeatable.

Are sublimation shirts compatible with typical printers?

No, the regular printer can’t perform sublimation printing on shirts and hard materials.

What are the drawbacks of sublimation?

You must choose white or light color items for sublimation. Sublimation cannot be performed on black or dark-colored surfaces. When the printer is not used regularly, the printhead clogs. It might be a good idea to check out the best sublimation printer for mugs

Final thoughts

Whether sublimation printing is your hobby or you are using it for commercial purposes, it’s of no use with the best sublimation printer. It is up to you to decide which sublimation printer is right for you. Consider your budget and required features before entering the market. The sublimation performance of printers produced by manufacturers is excellent. With sublimation printers for t-shirts, you can now choose the one that is right for you.

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