Sublimation printing method is known for its printing capability onto the items which couldn’t normally be printed through a printer. Sublimation ink is necessary to print on such items with your regular inkjet printer. This article will provide you a buying guide and some of the best sublimation ink reviews which you need know before going to buy it.
What Is Sublimation Ink?
Sublimation ink is a special kind of ink used in sublimation printing on various surfaces like ceramic tiles, mugs, water bottles, garments, fibre board, metal sheets, baseball caps, mouse pads, cell phone covers and many other things besides paper. It doesn’t dissolve in water like dye based ink. The product to be printed should have a special coating on its surface in order to accept the ink
The sublimation printing method will ensure you true colour, photographic quality images that will not crack or peel, colours will not fade or wash away.
The sublimation printing is done with this special kind of inks, sublimation paper and a heat press to bond the inks to the surface of the product to be printed. The speciality of the paper is a coating that keeps the inks at the surface to ensure the most transfer of colours to the printed items. A heat press is needed to imprint the printing onto the item.
Best Sublimation Ink Reviews
Here are some ink suggestions and their features and upsides, downsides for your consideration before buying the best ink of the market.
1. Printer Jack 400ml Sublimation Ink
Good quality ink at a reasonable price. Available in black, cyan, yellow and magenta colours. Can work with piezoelectric printers.
Applicable for garments, mug, cup, plate, mouse pad, pillow, quilt, glassware, metal, flag, shoe, ceramics and so many items. Ensure true and vivid colour.
The price is lower than many other brands, but the quality will meet your expectations. It will give you true colours i.e. the black will be pure black, not more like blue.
It is water resistant and consistent. The particles of the ink won’t clog your printer head and won’t also clog its nozzle. It will last for a long time. And the quantity of the ink is also good.
2. XPRO 4×100ml Professional True Colour Sublimation Ink
It is a dye based sublimation ink at a reasonable price which will ensure you true and vibrant colours.
Suitable for T-shirt, mug, flask, mouse pad and many other products and will provide same quality prints on every texture and surface.
It has a very low viscosity and form the manufacturer it has been said that it won’t clog normally. But you will have to print every day to avoid clogging the print heads slightly. But it won’t be a problem to do the cleaning with cleaning solutions.
Each bottle completely fills each colour’s storage channel. Great colour transfer and the printing is very vibrant.
3. Supricolour Sublimation Ink
Comes with four colours- black, cyan, magenta and yellow. Can work with several Epson and Stylus printers.
Suitable for printing on garments, t-shirt printing, cloth printing, pillow, quilt, cross stitch, shoe, cap, box, bag, flag, banner etc. Great for making a unique and beautiful gift for your family and friends where you can make them remind of the old days or happy moments.
Gives you rich colours and perfect printing. The image will be crisp, clean and beautiful. Image restoration rate is high, the colour will be the same after being transferred on the product and will give your picture a natural look.
Dries fast so there is no risk of smudging the colours. It is water resistant so the colours will not run if the printing gets wet.
Quantity is also enough for refilling several times. Economy price beside that lasts long.
But there is one claim that the black colour is of not rich quality.
4. Inkxpro Sublimation Ink
Comes with 6 different colours. It can be used for refilling cartridges of some model of Artisan and Epson printers. The extended tip makes it easy to refill the ink drum. Give your product beautiful printing.
For sublimation printing only onto different types of product. Perfectly transfers to glass cutting boards also.
Transfers well to the products and gives your pictures beautiful and brilliant colours. The price is somehow higher than the three inks above.
The quantity is enough for refilling several cartridges.
One claim about this ink is regular printing with it results good but doesn’t give photographic quality ink. And colours are less shinier than the original ink colour.
5. Dye Sublimation Ink
Works with all type of substrates for heat transfer printing. Available in black, cyan, magenta and yellow colours. Each bottle contains 240ml so there is enough ink for filling several cartridges and will last for a long time.
Works with Epson Eco tank printers. Any sublimation paper will work with this ink. No colour profiles, special drivers or software are needed.
Good ink for any sublimation printing. But it is a bit expensive than the other inks mentioned here. But the price obviously ensures better quality printing.
How to refill a sublimation ink
To refill a sublimation ink you will need cartridges, sublimation ink, syringes, needles etc.
Take the cartridge and you have to take out the first plug in the front. The rear plug is for ventilation purpose. So don’t pull it out until you put it in your printer. Take one syringe and a needle.
Then take a sublimation ink and punch a hole with the syringe ( to pull out the ink). Slowly pull out your sublimation ink and take about 9-10ml at a time. The cartridge can hold about 12ml ink.
You should angle the cartridge to put all the ink from the syringe. When you put it down , go all the way down in the corner near the chip and slowly fill it.
You should angle it to reduce air bubbles. When it is done, take the plug and put the plug back in and take the rear plug out. Now you have to purge it, punch a hole on the opposite side and then remove the air from the nozzle. Fill the rest cartridge in the same way.
Now the cartridges are ready for your printer.
Sublimation ink vs inkjet
A dye sublimation printer is generally used for printing photograph. With it you can print photographs on a large variety of substrates like garments, cups, mugs, flasks, glassware, metal, quilt, mobile cover, mouse pads and so on.
Inkjet is generally for printing text documents like correspondence, spreadsheets etc. You can print on banners, vinyl fabric 420D pack cloth etc. with it.
Dye sublimation printers work by a heat process. A special ribbon contains solid inks that change to gas. Different amounts of the three primary colours and a special coating onto the paper are laid down. The gas solidifies on the page and creates full colour image.
In an inkjet printer microscopic droplets of liquid ink come from the nozzle in the cartridge. By moving the cartridge back and forth across the page the process is done. The droplets hit the paper and eventually dry and form very small dots of black, cyan, magenta and yellow.
The dye sublimation process can print images of 5760×1440 dpi and can print 16.77 milion different colours.
Inkjet printers can produce image of 300×300 dpi, the resolution of the picture are not like photographic quality printing.
In the dye sublimation process the coating layer keep the dye safe from scratch, water and fingerprints and the colours last for a very long time. The dye instantly dries and creates brilliant quality images.
The photos printed in inkjet printers start fading after only a few years. The colours are not waterproof so the colours run if they get wet.
In the images produced by dye sublimation ink a continuous range of colours occurs. On the other hand primary colour dots are used in inkjet printing.
Photos of dye sublimation process are continuous tone output. But in inkjet printing only half tone of colours are used.
Dye sublimation ink works on specially coated paper, cards etc. Inkjet printers use copier paper, envelope, label and other office media.
How to Choose the Best Sublimation Ink
Actually the best sublimation inks cannot be determined. The most costly brand of ink can be incompatible with your printing kits. So you should rather search the most compatible ink for your printer.
Here are certain things which you can take into consideration to buy a compatible sublimation ink for your printing equipments-
You should choose an ink which will give you brilliant and vivid image. The image should be long lasting and consistent. A good sublimation ink should be water proof and smudge resistant.
You have to inquire the colour reduction rate of a sublimation ink before buying it. A good quality sublimation ink should have a high colour reduction rate. So inquire if the ink can restore almost the original colour.
The best quality ink are supposed to have smaller particles. If the particles of an ink is large in size, it may block the printing head. You will have to clear it now and then and printing result won’t be very satisfying and smooth.
Many low quality inks do not turn into exact colour on the product. If the colours are not vivid in printing, the charm and meaning of the photo or image will not be manifested. So, it is also an important consideration.
In cheap and low quality ink the percentage of water is more than the dye. So naturally those ink will take more time to dry. Many So choose the ink where the percentage of water is less.
Domestic ink or imported ink?
Domestic inks come from domestic raw materials and naturally is of lower price than imported inks. But their colour reduction rate and saturation and quality cannot be comparable.
Price is always worth consideration. You can not expect good quality inks at a low price. If you use it for personal or commercial purposes, you should not compromise with quality.
Buy ink from the same supplier and use the same ink. If you mix different quality inks, your printing will be influenced.
People also ask
Q: Why is heat press necessary in sublimation printing?
Ans. A satisfactory image transfer is not possible with the temperature come from your home hand iron. Sublimation printing needs from 375°-420° temperature and serious force in pressing from 40-80 psi that heated device like iron can not give.
Q: What things do I need for sublimation printing?
Ans. You will need following things for a sublimation printing project- Sublimation ink compatible printer, Sublimation ink, transfer paper, heat resistant tape ( to avoid moving of the images in the transfer process), heat press ( for bonding image to the item), ICC colour correction profile etc.
Q: Can I use sublimation ink in an inkjet printer?
Ans. You can use sublimation ink in certain Epson and Ricoh inkjet printers only. Firstly you have to print the transfer paper and then press it on your intended product with a heat press.
Q: Can I use any ink in sublimation printing?
Ans. No. Sublimation printing requires sublimation ink which is specially made as a mixture of water and heat reactive dyes.
Therefore you can choose a good quality ink from our best sublimation ink suggestions without any hesitation if these inks are compatible with your existing printing equipment.