Modern computer printers can print on a wide variety of materials like fabric or plastic and provide you with professional grade photos from the comfort of home. One such modern printer that offers you the best of both worlds is the sublimation printer. To create high-quality prints by this kind of printer, choose the best sublimation printer as per your need.
Dye sublimation printers come in a wide range of designs that are suitable for photo booths, small businesses, and crafty consumers and many different types of needs. Some are intended for basic photo printing while others can be used to transfer heat on the material. Anyone can choose one of these printers with a heat press and start practicing their own graphics to signs, rugs, portraits, textiles and more to cover a broad variety of markets.
What is dye sublimation printers?
A sublimation printer which is also known as dye-sublimation is a printer that uses heat and pressure to apply ink to various media types.
Dye-Sublimation printers are such a modern printer which are known for their ability to produce high-quality photos through a unique process, making them perfect for photo booths, small businesses, and crafty consumers. You can transfer images to a mug or plaque easily with some models while others are strictly made to produce smudge-proof photos for archival purposes.
How does a dye sublimation printer work:
Ordinary inkjet printers can sometimes be used for sublimation printing, but the technology is slightly different than traditional dye sublimation models. A sublimation printer needs additional hardware such as a heat press. Besides, making sure you are using the right type of ink, you will also need special types of paper.
Instead of printing the image directly onto the heat press machine, you print it on high-quality paper that is later given heat and pressure methods to apply the image onto your preferred medium. Most dye transfer papers are arranged into categories based on the type of medium that you will be applying them to.
You need to make sure to pick the right type of paper to ensure that you are getting the best transfer possible for your given design. The printer will heat up the quality and quickness of the initial printed image before other steps of the process are involved.
Our recommended best dye sublimation printers:
1. Kodak Dock & Wi-Fi Portable
The Kodak PD-450 is one of a handful of printers made for mobile users. The size of the sublimation printer is small enough to fit in a bag. The thermal dye-sub transfer tech ensures your photos won’t bleed or fade while the dock provides one-touch printing directly from your mobile.
With the design of the PD-450 dock, Kodak decided to keep things simple. That means there are some ports on the side to go along with a bit printing button on top. There is a dip in the middle where you can dock your smartphone, and the front flips down for a thin paper tray.
Ink and paper packs are very affordable as well. The media loads through a side door, so it is easy to operate and maintain unless something locks off inside. The Kodak Photo Printer Dock lets you print directly from your smartphone. It has the old micro USB function and not the newer USB Type-C. PictBridge is an option as well, but Wi-Fi is the standout when it comes to connectivity.
The printer arrives with ten sheets of photo paper, a paper tray, a lightning adapter, and an ink cartridge. It’s suitable for the free companion app – the Kodak Printer App – that has different filters, card templates, collage maker, stickers, video and SNS print among other features.
This printer lacks a rechargeable power source hence requires a power outlet and new printer cartridges with every new paper stack. Printing speed is not so fast. Despite the long printing time, your photos will arrive in top form and won’t bleed or fade over time because of the thermal printing tech.
2. Canon SELPHY CP1300 Wireless Compact Photo Printer
The Canon SELPHY CP1300 is one of cheapest dye sublimation printer with some nifty extras to go if want archival quality prints. It supports PictBridge, which enables you to print straight from your camera. It has AirPrint functionality which requires an iPad, iPhone 3GS or later, or iPod touch 3rd generation or later device running iOS 4.2 or later.
You can connect the sublimation printer to the USB port of your Mac, PC. Wi-Fi is the noticeable feature, and it is nice that you can print from an SD card as well. If you want to run cordless, pick up a battery pack which comes in official form but isn’t exactly cheap.
It is compatible with memory cards include SDTM Card, SDHCTM Card. It requires an Internet connection and the Canon PRINT SELPHY app. You can get it free on the App Store and at Google Play.
It is based on stimulated testing by Canon under controlled temperature, humidity and gas conditions which simulate storage in an album with plastic covers. Canon cannot ensure the longevity of prints. Its results may differ depending on the printed copy, display conditions, and environmental circumstances.
The media for this machine arrives in a small box that includes a few sheets of paper and some sample ink with the printer along with a paper cassette. The charge per print is quite reasonable. Generally this sublimation printer comes with warranty card.
The Canon SELPHY CP1300 isn’t the quickest printer around. Although it may be slow, the prints look amazing and are said to last up to 100 years when properly stored.
3. DNP Event Photo Printer
The DNP DS-RX1HS, a speedy machine for your photo booth or gift shop, is made for business, but more affordable than similar models in its class. The printer connects reasonable hardware charge, low media costs and high-end capabilities to create beautiful colour photo prints instantly and economically.
The media for this printer arrives in two forms – the RX1HS4x6 and RX1HS6x8 kits. The 4” x 6” paper and ink kit can print 700 photos, rather you can print two 2” x 6” images. The same thing for the 6” x 8” kit which can also print 5” x 7” images with a 1/2” border.
This sublimation printer has a maximum resolution of 300 x 600 dpi using the YMC ink palette. It is an important feature to have, and one that should be standard but usually isn’t on this style of printer. We like the fact it provides two surface options without a media swap, and it is a more affordable choice in the business category.
It provides some additional features included improved operational support with the addition of USB iSerial functionality for seamless connectivity to Mac and PC computers. You can print to multiple DS-RX1HS printers now in Windows or the Mac platform.
If you are the multitasking type, you will be thrilled with the overall capacity of the DNP DS-RX1HS printer and you can walk away from without fear of mishaps. Between the low print cost and speed, if you operate a photo booth, this printer will be a good option for you.
The printer is a little heavy and bulky, sometimes it may be a problem to carry the printer, but once you start printing it prints beautifully. Sometimes the brand new printer comes with defective issues and keeps having paper jam issues. So, you need to be careful while buying the printer.
4. Workforce WF-7710 Wireless Wide-Format Color
When you’re hosting a photo booth, you need a printer that balances speed with quality, while offering performance beyond laser. A simple yet affordable offering, Workforce WF-7710 Wireless Wide-Format Color Inkjet Printer at a low dollar cost that prints slowly but effectively. This printer is very economical that uses up to 80 per cent less power vs. colour laser printers.
The Workforce WF-7710 wide-format all-in-one printer quickly provides print-shop-quality borderless prints. A versatile paper handling, it features a 250-sheet tray, plus a rear feed for speciality paper, ensuring added productivity for any office.
This inkjet printer is a package of auto two-sided print, copy, scan and fax, plus a 35-page Auto Document Feeder. Use the colour touchscreen for easy navigation and control, and that’s why it can be pretty manageable too. This Wireless Wide-Format Color Inkjet Printer can easily scan large media with 2-sided Auto Document Feeder.
It features the ultimate in wired and wireless networking and the WF-7710 makes it easy to print from iPad, iPhone, Android tablets and smartphones. Most features of this printer require an Internet connection to the printer, as well as an Internet-enabled device. This printer includes Wi-Fi Direct, Ethernet and NFC.
A problem of using this printer is that it does not fluidly roll on the belt when it prints. It spits out the print in spurts, leaving horrible horizontal lines that are evenly spaced out a quarter inch with every sport. You may also face some problems like troubleshooting, nozzle cleaning, alignment adjusting.
Not only does it print nonavoidable lines, but also it reduces colour intensity and introduces colours that don’t even exist into the printed image. Not all type of ink support this machine. Another annoying issue is that ink heads dry out quickly. So, you need to change the ink cartridges in every few weeks.
5. HiTi P525L Compact Dye Sub Photo Printer
If you are looking for a dye sublimation printer which fills the usual range of activities for your photo booth and dye-sublimation printing events with ease, then HiTi P525L is a good option for you. Its leading characteristic is the durability of its internal components, which is said to handle even the toughest tasks.
This sublimation printer is suggested if you need a portable printing solution that’s durable enough to handle constant, high-speed tasks with a laptop or PC to host the media with. This machine comes in a little tiny box with a couple of things to get you started but is light in this area compared to similar dye-sub printers.
You will receive a scrap holder, two paper adapters, and two paper flanges aside from the printer itself. A driver disc is added as well although it is only rated to Windows 8. For updated files, you can check the company’s sites. The front of the printer opens up to the innards to install new media when your ribbon runs empty.
This is known as the first printer to use RFID technology to overcome the need for media keys when exchanging media. It supports the ever-typical 300 DPI using the CMYK colour palette, which produces images glossy at default, but you can switch to matte as needed. There are some minimal controls with buttons for menu present.
The only drawback that’s been mentioned by users is the weak wireless support, which requires phone- and tablet-bound media to be exported to a laptop or PC before you can print it off. It seems to be a critical argument against the portability factor that HiTi’s machine has been marketed for, but we’ll leave that up to you.
6. Epson Stylus C88+ Inkjet Printer Color
The Epson Stylus C88+ is considered one of the best sublimation printer products ever made, especially from the technologies and features included within the machine. It can be an ideal solution for critical projects and reports, delivering amazing quality and durability to everyday text and graphics with revolutionary DURABrite Ultra pigment ink.
With such unique property and versatility, DURABrite Ultra ink gives you incredible results, whether you’re printing a photo or proposal with fast-drying, smudge, fade and water resistant ink on papers like glossy photo paper, matte paper and plain copy paper. Borderless and Double-sided photo printing in frame-ready sizes looks great because the ink will not bleed through.
There are other things to like about this device, such as the high-speed printing capability which is able to print 18-23 black and white pages within a minute. The Epson C88+ has a large paper handling capacity, a 120-sheet input tray that holds various sizes of paper.
The Epson Stylus C88+ printer can be connected to multiple computers using its built-in USB and parallel ports. Also, it can switch between ports automatically. It can also be connected to several platforms simultaneously, including Macintosh and Windows-based systems.
This printer is a compact and simply designed but the overall style is classic and elegant. Epson Stylus C88+ inkjet printer does come in a box with ink cartridges, Printer documentation, CD-ROM containing printer software (Windows and Macintosh).
One drawback is that the printer isn’t wireless which seems to be problematical. The size of the printing outcome is limited, and not overly big. Another drawback that’s been mentioned by users is its jamming issue. The printer wouldn’t insert one piece of paper through without jamming sometimes.
7. Yescom 3D Multifunction Heat Press Machine
Yescom 3D Multifunction Heat Press Machine is popular for its humanized operation interface design. It doesn’t require a lot of physic force to complete your work, all you need to do is just place the objects in and closing the cover plate lightly, the machine will auto-complete the whole process.
This printer is also known as High Intelligent Vacuum Transfer Sublimation Printing Printer. It has a large capacity and can store almost 12 mugs at a time. It can improve your working efficiency greatly. Its unique furnace design like its original concave-convex dot surface design improves the heating area greatly.
This heat press machine has software and hardware dual temperature control system. When one side of the temperature control system fails to work, the other side will work automatically in this High Intelligent Vacuum Transfer Sublimation Printing Printer, and it’ll power off within 15 minutes without any operation. That’s why it is safe to use and more reliable.
Yescom 3D Multifunction Heat Transfer Machine is multifunctional for both flat items and curved items, such as pillow-case, tile, mouse pad, glass, crystal, plate, mug, iPhone cover, iPad cover, etc. The activated carbon filter, installed in the machine can filter toxic gas during heat transfer.
This printer comes with only a sublimation oven with vacuum forming ability. You have to buy a sublimation printer, sublimation paper, sublimation ink and heat resistant tape to work. It also requires sublimation coated media, it will not work ceramics, you need sublimation blanks or polyester to sublimate to.
There aren’t clear instructions on setting up or adjusting the machine which comes with it. But the use of this sublimation printer is easy to learn and use. It is disappointed to find that a mug larger than 11 oz. and all the different sizes phone cases will not fit into the press as well.
8. Mitsubishi CP-K60DW-S Eco-Value Dye-Sub Photo Printer
Those who are looking for a well-rounded and attractive dye-sublimation solution for their business, especially with photo booths, Mitsubishi CP-K60DW is a better option for you. This is a well-rounded machine with a beautiful matte finish and a two-point option that cuts back on the amount of time and resources required to push your prints out.
Media options for the CP-K60DW include two official paper and ink sets. You can fill it up from the front but will need to use the included spacers when going with the 5-inch rolls. A paper piece pin and a paper flange are in the box as well, and installation is insignificant and fairly straightforward. Through a USB 2.0 port, the Mitsubishi CP-K60DW is compatible with both Macs and PCs but there is no Wi-Fi on this one.
Some other special features on this model include an Ink rewind feature which optimizes your prints by enabling you to reset the ribbon and use the full surface area. The print head will work stable and provide smooth print quality. This printer provides a bit of memory with 32MB of internal storage. It is a compact little machine and you can bring it along for photo booth and dye-sublimation printing events with ease.
There are also no handles on the printer itself rather than just a set of small lights for power, paper/ribbon, and alarm. There is a button “sparse” on the side will unfold the panel when it is time for a paper change. It prints five pages per minute which aren’t the quickest out there, but smaller enterprises can move stock fairly quickly at this rate.
How to use a sublimation printer:
Some basic reasons people use sublimation printers are:
- T-Shirt designs
- Creating custom coffee mugs
Sublimation Printers for T-Shirts:
For t-shirt printing, you will need a dye sublimation printer with a larger printing capability. In addition, the printer must be able to receive a unique type of high-release paper that is used to transfer your design via heat and pressure in a separate device directly to the fabric of the t-shirt.
Sublimation Printers for Mugs:
You will need a printer that allows the right type of transfer paper for use on ceramic items like coffee mugs. You will also need a special press device that demands large amounts of heat and pressure to complete the transfer process to the mug.
Sublimation Printers for Scrapbooking:
For things like scrapbooking, the process is somewhat similar. You can use practically any type of sublimation printer with suitable paper types to create beautiful prints from home. Many of the printer options that have protective coatings are designed to increase the life of your prints when stored appropriately as well.
Safety tips (if there any):
There are a variety of tips and tricks that can make the process easier for beginners, while it may look tough to transition to sublimation printers.
Store your printing paper in a sealed container carefully to prevent exposure. The reason for this is that dust can damage a printing run and can become confined in the heating elements of your printer.
Use only paper types that are approved by the manufacturer. Sublimation printers are not compatible with standard office paper and most manufacturers produce a special paper that is particular to each printer model.
There is a specially designed paper which acts as a sponge to absorb large amounts of dye for transfer directly to another object when using a compatible press. You can use these papers for the sublimation transfer process.
Best dye sublimation printers buying guide:
When choosing the Best Sublimation Printer, some of the factors should keep in mind:
Size of the media:
Photo media size will need to determine to know what type of prints and projects you can complete using your printer. Two of the most common sizes to consider for application in things like frames are 5 by 7 and 8 by 10.
Printing Time and Volume:
For smaller applications, basic printers are a good option that reduces printing time for affordability. For commercial uses in things like photo booths, you’re better to attach with a larger printer that can design prints at a faster pace that have larger paper capacities.
If you’re looking for printers that are perfect for travelling while on the go, you should pay attention to their overall weight and battery capacity. Models with extra battery packs are another excellent choice to consider.
The last but not the least thing you should consider when buying for a sublimation printer is the device connectivity. The majority of commercially available printers now support a broad range of devices like smartphones and tablets. They are also compatible with things like SD cards and USB drives as well.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
Here are Frequently Asked Questions and their answers with an explanation about Sublimation Printers for your query.
Q: Can I use the regular printer for sublimation?
Ans: No. The dye-sublimation process requires sublimation paper, sublimation ink and sublimation printer. The normal inkjet printer cannot use the sublimation ink so of course, the sublimation paper cannot use with it.
Q: What paper do you use for sublimation printing?
Ans: Sublimation uses special paper, ink and polyester-coated items that all react with each other.
Q: What ink is used for sublimation printing?
Ans: Sublimation ink, pigment ink, solvent ink or others are used for sublimation printers.
Q: Is sublimation ink waterproof? Which ink is used for printing T-shirts?
Ans: No. There is 3 main ink used for printing which is Dye Ink, Sublimation Ink, and Pigment Ink. For T-shirt printing on cotton materials with transfer papers, it is good to use pigment inks because it is waterproof.
Q: Can sublimation print white?
Ans: With CMYK printing, there is no combination of base colour inks that can generate the colour white. Thus, white is considered the best apparel colour for sublimation, but you can print on light-coloured garments.
Q: How can I avoid moisture issues in sublimation printing?
Ans: Moisture can cause problems on the sublimation process and produce unwanted results such as colour shifting; colour loses accuracy, bleeding of the image, and uneven transfer of solid filled areas of design.
To reduce the effects of moisture, you need to do is to keep the humidity of the printing room between 50-60% and storing space at the stable moisture. Make sure that you keep your transfer paper in a dry place.
The sublimation printer is the dye sublimation machine which is operating through heating the ink and then transferring it to any surface, including ceramic or plastic. Sublimation is a great professional way to personalize shirts, coasters, puzzles, mousepads, phone-cases, mugs and more. You can use sublimation printer for photo booth applications and on-location event photography and revenue-generating products for businesses and organizations.
Sublimation printers are popular for reasonably fast printing, acceptably high-quality prints, good colour accuracy and so on. If you are looking for the best sublimation printer, be sure to have a thorough checking and research before narrowing down your pick to a specific brand.