Best Sublimation Printer for Shirts [Ultimate Buying Guide]
A sublimation printer is an inkjet printer, which is used for printing impressions on shirts, mugs, cards, aluminium materials, fibreglass, as well as photo printing. It makes sure a firm design is embedded in plastic, paper, or fabric material without the risk of overheating or smearing. For you to make and design t-shirts, you need the best sublimation printer for shirts.
Designing shirts is one way to show off your creative talent as an entrepreneur. Furthermore, it is a way of earning money. However, how you print the designs plays a critical role when it comes to the beauty and quality of the printed design on the shirt. Conversely, there are many different methods for printing shirts, but sublimation printing is the best if you are looking to upscale your business to another level.
There are also many options when looking for the best sublimation printer for shirts. They come with different features and prices. However, for you to get the job done effectively, you need the best one available. In this article, we are going to look at the best sublimation printer for shirts and help you figure out which one is best suited to your needs. Keep reading!
Types of sublimation printers
There are various types of sublimation printers for shirts, which defer in features and uses. Here are some of the common ones.
1. 3D vacuum heat press
This sublimation printer is a non-traditional type of printer, which is specialized for dye sublimation printing to unevenly shaped items. It is best for printing around curves and edges in particular items.
2. Swing away sublimation printer
This type of sublimation printer is best for printing designs on denser materials such as dense fabric and photo frames. It is designed in such a way that materials can be laid across the machine easily when printed.
3. Clam press sublimation printer
This type of sublimation printer is very popular. It is mostly used on shirts and sometimes referred to as the “Shirt printer.” It is a brilliant choice for creating fabric proofs before entering the final production. Furthermore, it is both affordable and intuitive making it best for hobby t-shirt designers and branding companies.
4. Single press
This type is the ideal sublimation printer for printing small items like coffee mugs. It is best for single printing tasks or repetitive printing on consistent printing. Furthermore, it is ideal for niche suppliers or hobbyists.
5. Flatbed press
The flatbed press comes in two different types; manual and pneumatic. Manual flatbed press models are not automated and allow for more control of the printing process. The pneumatic flatbed press models are fully automated and physically robust. You just need to press the start button and printing starts. However, they are very expensive.
6. Calendar press
This type of sublimation printer is affordable and easy to operate. It can be either an oil drum or an electric. The oil drum model produces high-end colour rich imprints but takes longer for the oil to heat up and cool down. Conversely, the electric model has a faster printing time since it heats up and cools the material quickly. Additionally, it has higher quality prints.
Here are some of the best sublimation printers for shirts you will find on the market. Check them out!
WorkForce WF-7710 come with a high-density print chip, which is capable of generating 40 million pinpoint dots. This makes sure there are excellent colour accuracy and high speed. Its blend of excellent colour accuracy and high speed makes it an ideal sublimation printer for shirts. It is a great choice for any startup shirt business due to its massive performance and low cost.
WorkForce WF-7710 features a precisionCore technology that allows you to create borderless printing alongside automatic two-sided printing offering you a lot of different choices at your fingertips. With this unit, you can print up to 13×19 inches with a resolution of 4800×2400 dpi. Furthermore, it has storage dimensions of 22.3” Width, 19.1” Length and 13.4” Height.
WorkForce WF-7710 offers wireless printing. You can easily print from your iPhone, iPad, Android tablets and smartphones. Besides, it has a voice-activated operation letting you enjoy a fully hands-free experience. WorkForce WF-7710 works with Alexa as well.
This printer is equipped with a 4.3-inch colour touch screen that will allow you to navigate and adjust printing settings easily. If you want to make shop quality sublimation print such as T-shirt printing, this is the printer to purchase.
- Waterproof and fade resistant
- Great for sublimation
- Prints with fast and accurate speed
- Easy to set up
- Ink runs out very fast
- Won’t stay connected to Wi-Fi
Epson EcoTank ET-4760 comes with a compact, space-saving and stylish design that not only looks appealing but is highly functional in an office environment as well. Furthermore, it features borderless printing alongside automatic two-sided printing offering you a lot of different choices at your fingertips.
Epson EcoTank-4760 offers wireless printing. You can print easily from your smartphone and tablet. Besides, it has a voice-activated operation letting you enjoy a fully hands-free experience. With this unit, you will be capable of producing many T-shirts in minimum time. You can as well use sublimation papers such as A-Sub.
Epson EcoTank-4760 has ink tanks that save a lot of upkeep cost. If you are looking for the best sublimation printer for shirts that has a low maintenance cost, then this unit is an ideal choice. However, you do not need to worry about ink. In the box storing the unit, you get 2 years of ink with each replacement ink set.
Besides, this printer is equipped with a 2.4-inch colour touch screen that will allow you to navigate and adjust printing settings.
- Easy to use
- Easy to set up
- 2-sided printing is an advantage
- Great printer-scanner combo
- A little bit noisy
- The wireless connection doesn’t work consistently
The OfficeJet Pro 9025 features a sustainable design made with up to 10% recycled plastic. This heavy-duty sublimation printer is compatible with T-shirt transfer sheets. Furthermore, its high speed makes it a perfect printer for any T-shirt business that requires getting many transfers done in a month.
The OfficeJet Pro 9025 has some inbuilt security basics that protect sensitive data. These security basics include document protection, password protection, Wi-Fi security and encryption. You can remotely print your projects using the HP Smart app. The HP Smart app also helps you monitor ink levels. The self-healing WI-FI ensures that you stay connected by noticing issues and undergoing up to three stages of reconnection automatically to keep your WI-FI reliable and stable. Besides, it works with Alexa or Google Assistant.
This printer comes with a colour print resolution of 4800×1200 dpi. It will get you detailed and quality T-shirt transfers. Besides, it is also capable of 1205×1200 dpi black resolutions, allowing you to print quotes and other writing that will look crisp and clear.
HP OfficeJet Pro 9025 also uses a 4-ink cartridge configuration that allows for a better depth of colour on your T-shirt transfer than a 2-ink cartridge system would manage. You don’t need to worry about the ink, if you enrol in HP Instant Ink which is an optional choice, genuine HP 962 ink will be delivered to your home free for the first 2 months. This printer also comes with a 1-year limited hardware warranty and 24/7 HP Web support free.
The OfficeJet Pro 9025 is equipped with a 2.7-inch colour touch screen that will allow you to navigate and adjust printing settings easily to meet your individual needs.
- Easy to use and set up
- Prints with fast and accurate speed
- Heavy-duty printer
- Noisy while printing
- Not durable
Canon Pixma MG3620 comes with a 4800 x 1200 dpi resolution, which allows you to get a fabulously detailed print that is complimented by Full-photolithography Inkjet Nozzle Engineering (FINE) technology. It also features borderless printing alongside automatic two-sided printing offering you a lot of different choices at your fingertips. Besides, it requires easy and quick wireless set up. You can print from your tablet, Android, iPad or iPhone.
This printer is fast and comes with space-saving components that also comprises copying and scanning in the same device. So, you can replace the separate printer, copier and scanner with an all in one option and save the extra space for office equipment or other activities.
The two-ink container system on this unit ensures that you get stain-resistant printouts making sure your T-shirt is of high quality. Conversely, the wireless connections ensure that you have few cords at your disposal. We understand the stresses of using several cables and cords.
Canon Pixma MG3620 is one of the best sublimation printers for shirts. However, it is a light-duty machine. It also doesn’t have a touch screen display.
- Great printer for the price
- Easy to set up
- Easy to operate
- A little noisy
- Limited Wi-Fi connection
- Light duty printer
SawGrass Virtuoso SG400 can print at a high 1200 dpi resolution allowing for lively images in your prints. Additionally, the resolution enables you to print around 34 sublimation papers per hour. It comes with 110 sheets of exclusive sublimation paper and a complete set of SubliJet-HD inks from the SUBLIMAX brand.
SawGrass Virtuoso SG400 also comes with a self-cleaning mechanism that stops ink from clogging. Furthermore, it has Ethernet and USB 2.0 functionality to install drivers or images that you want to print with it. You can as well utilize the easy-to-use creative studio software to create a wide variety of designs on your T-shirts.
This printer comes ready with sublimation capabilities straight from the box. Unlike other inkjet printers, you don’t have to convert it for T-shirt sublimation printing. However, it is a little more expensive. Lastly, the manufacturer states that the inks are not meant for cotton T-shirt transfer but 100% polyester T-shirts.
- Great shirt sublimation printer
- Small printer, saves space
- Easy to set up
- Cannot re-size graphics properly
Factors to consider when buying sublimation printer for shirts
Higher resolution means better detail in the printed image. Therefore, if you are preparing complex designs, you need a unit that has high dpi resolution capacities. On the other hand, lower-resolution printers make blurry image prints, which affect the quality of your shirts.
However, this depends on the design that you are working on. With smaller logo prints, you can easily work with a low-resolution printer without any issues. Conversely, for large designs, consider buying a unit that offers a minimum of 4800X1200 dpi resolution for best outcomes.
2. Print media size
Always consider the print media size since not all printers have the ability to print large designs. The one you pick must meet your requirements in terms of size. For example, printing small logos does not require large media sizes. A 4X6 inch printing capability is enough in this case.
Nevertheless, for large designs, the sublimation printer needs to have a larger media size. Before setting on a printer, consider your size requirements and cross-check with the capacities of the printer.
3. Print speed
If you are doing a shirt printing business, print speed is important to your productivity. With a high-speed sublimation printer, you will be capable of completing a large batch of orders in less time. So, therefore, you might need to spend a little more on a high-speed printer to get the most value out of your investment.
Furthermore, the resolution of the print plays a part in the speed of the printer as well. With high-resolution images, the speed of printing takes a radical hit.
Therefore, before you decide on the sublimation printer for shirts to buy, try to find the right balance between the resolution and speed of the printer. However, for personal use, resolution takes priority over speed.
Some sublimation printers on the market allow for Bluetooth or wireless connectivity that can come in handy to some users. However, this feature is not for everyone. If you like to work from a computer with a physically connected cable, you may not get the full benefit out of it.
Nevertheless, this is a great feature to have if you want to work on your tablet or smartphone. With this option, you are capable of transferring the designs easily to the printer and get them printed without having to use a computer at all.
5. Print volume
Just like printing speed, the print volume plays a vital role in the success of your business as well. If you want to sell designer shirts commercially, you need to consider purchasing a printer capable of heavy-duty work. That way, you will be capable of clearing large batches of orders easily.
While still considering the print volume, it is important to note that not all printers can deliver the same volume of printing. Some high-end models are limited to only a thousand prints per run, while there are models on the market that can print tens of thousands. However, it all comes down to your requirements eventually, in terms of volume and print speed.
Although some people tend to ignore this element, it is very important. If you want a great experience from your printer, it is wise to go with a unit from a reputed company. Going with off-brand products is not a good idea. Always stick with one good company. The best thing is if anything goes wrong with your unit you will get great aftermarket support.
When looking for a sublimation printer for shirts, you will come across different models with different capabilities at different budgets. Nevertheless, getting the most expensive model available does not always mean that it is the best on the market. For you to get the most value for your money, you should consider your requirements and have a fixed reasonable spending limit.
Always work with your budget. Sometimes purchasing a unit that exceeds your budget irrespective of its quality leads to buyer’s regret.
Purchasing a sublimation printer for shirts is a great investment to make especially when it comes to T-shirt designing. Although the preliminary investment cost might be slightly high, the low maintenance cost and high output make it a feasible choice.
Our best sublimation printer for shirts is the WorkForce WF-7710 printer. It features a precisionCore technology that allows you to create borderless printing alongside automatic two-sided printing offering you a lot of different choices at your fingertips. Its blend of excellent colour accuracy and high speed makes it a great choice for any startup shirt business. Additionally, it is associated with massive performance and low cost.
SawGrass Virtuoso SG400 is another choice you can consider since it comes ready with sublimation capabilities straight from the box. However, it is slightly expensive if you can afford it, go for it. All the best in your startup venture.