Are you tired of looking for a reasonably priced sublimation printer and ending up in failure? If this is true, you are not alone. Most people motivated to get into sublimation often complain about skyrocketing prices of sublimation printers. Some, along the way, may give up on it, but most choose to convert a standard affordable printer to a sublimation printer.
So the good news is, you can choose a reasonably priced printer and convert it for sublimation, and the process isn’t complicated. Fortunately, converting your existing printer to sublimation printing is a cost-effective solution that can provide the same high-quality results. The article helps you learn how to convert printer to sublimation and walks you through everything you need to know to transform your printer into a sublimation printer.
Considerations Before Conversion
Before you plunge into conversion, there are factors worth your consideration.
Thermal or Piezo Printing
Printers with piezo print heads can be converted for sublimation, and those with thermal print heads won’t work.
Printers with thermal printing technology use heat to boil the ink while forming air bubbles vapors. These bubbles are forced through the printhead, and when they leave the chamber, they burst out. The ink that way gets settled on the paper, and the process is cooled down. The printers with thermal printheads use water-based inks for the procedure. Printers such as HP and Canon use this type of printing, which can’t be converted for sublimation.
Additionally, printers with piezo printheads have thin foil, which vibrates when exposed to an eclectic charge. The vibration signals the foil to bend and exert pressure on the ink, pushing it out of the chamber. The forced ink lands on the paper, leaving prints. The piezo printhead printers use oil-based, water-based, eco-solvent, and gel-based inks. Printers such as Brother, Epson, and Sawgrass work on piezo printing technology and can be used for sublimation.
Note: Other brands of printers have piezo print heads but can’t be used for sublimation due to the unavailability of compatible sublimation ink.
New or Used Printer
When considering converting a standard printer for sublimation, it is recommended to use a brand-new printer. It is possible to convert a used printer for sublimation, but it is not considered a good choice. The conversion process of a used printer is messy and cumbersome as you must remove the previous ink so it won’t get mixed with the sublimation ink. It is difficult to remove the traces altogether, and there is always a chance of mixing old ink with sublimation ink. It results in uneven and irregular color output, nozzle clogging, and poor-quality prints.
So rather than investing energy and resources in a used printer and not getting the results worth your effort, buying a new printer and converting it for sublimation is a smart choice.
Materials Needed for Conversion
Now you know which printers you can use for sublimation, it’s time to get into the process. But before you dive in, make sure you have the necessary supplies, which are
- Inkjet printer, which is compatible with sublimation, preferably a new one. (We have used Epson Workforce 7710)
- Refillable cartridges (SHDSL Sublimation Ink Cartridges)
- Sublimation ink (Hippo Sublimation Ink)
Before beginning the process, make sure the printhead nozzle is working correctly. You can check by running prints on white paper. Make sure the image prints are sharp and vivid, and if the printer churns out blurred or distorted images, you will need to adjust the equipment setting until you get fine prints.
How to Convert Printer to Sublimation
Converting your printer for sublimation is as easy as pouring sublimation ink instead of standard ink into the printer tank or cartridges. Below are easy steps to follow to convert a new printer for sublimation.
Step 1. Filling Ink Cartridges
You must buy sublimation ink and subside the standard ink, as you don’t want it to get mixed with sublimation ink and ruin your prints. And when choosing a sublimation ink, it is recommended to use it consistently without switching to other brands.
Most of the sublimation inks come with ink cartridges and syringes. Insert the ink into the cartridges using the syringes in each corresponding color compartment. (As we are converting the Workforce 7710 model, you must use cartridges. It’s not the case with Epson Ecotank printers which you can fill by directly filling the ink tanks with bottles.)
Step 2. Set Printer Setting for Sublimation
Now that your ink cartridges are ready, you must move toward the printer setting. The printer must be set for sublimation; otherwise, the ink will go unrecognized, and you will not get the expected results.
Move to the printer’s screen until you find the setting menu. When you click it, more options will be displayed. Choose the “Maintenance” option and see the option “Ink Cartridges Replacement.” Click it, and the printer will further provide instructions that should be followed accordingly.
Now that you’ve opened the printer’s cover, you can observe the ink cartridges going back and forth. When the apartment finally settles on the right side, it’s time to install the ink cartridges.
Step 3. Install Ink Cartridges
After the compartment rests where it was before, open its lid and remove the ink cartridges. As you will not use the standard ink cartridges, you must replace them with sublimation ink cartridges and ensure they won’t get mixed.
While installing the sublimation ink after removing the previous ink cartridges, set each corresponding ink color in its specific place. Push the cartridges until you hear a clicking sound indicating the cartridge has fit well in the right place, and then the printer can register them.
Now close the lid, and you will see the printer screen loading. The printer starts initialization, and it can take some time. You have to ensure not to turn off the printer while it’s running initializations.
Step 4. Start Printing
After completing initialization, you are ready to print away what you aim to. Feed the sublimation paper and have your prints from the other side.
Note: Sometimes, the printer shows problems yielding all the colors, so you better run nozzle tests to ensure it’s printing right.
Easiest Printers to Convert for Sublimation
Epson Ecotank printers are among the most convenient to convert for sublimation. These printers have piezo printheads and an ink tank that needs to be filled with sublimation ink instead of standard ink. You can choose any Ecotank model by replacing the ink and converting it to a sublimation printer.
Conventional Printers for Sublimation
Mostly inkjet printers are recommended by experts for sublimation as compared to laser or other types of printers. Further, inkjet printing doesn’t work the same, so it’s necessary to distinguish each printer with inkjet printing technology.
Printers with thermal printing technology, like Canon and HP printers, are incompatible with sublimation as they use heat to transfer ink on the paper, which gets smeared and baked, negatively affecting the prints.
The Epson Ecotank Series printers are the most accessible printers in the market, which use piezo printing technology and are compatible with sublimation. You can use any of the printers from the series for sublimation.
Furthermore, Brother printers use piezo technology, but it is a tedious task for most people due to its non-availability of sublimation ink. The sublimation ink and replaceable cartridges compatible with Brother printers are rare, so it isn’t easy to set up an ink profile necessary for sublimation.
Printers not Recommended for Sublimation
Canon and HP printers can not be converted for sublimation as thermal print head nozzles disperse ink into paper. All models of both brands cannot render clear images with sublimation ink.
HP has a line of sublimation printers, but they are huge, expensive, and primarily for industrial purposes. These printers can print on paper and fabric with sublimation and UV ink.
Converting your standard printer for sublimation can be a great relief, as it saves you from the high costs of buying a sublimation printer. You can effectively convert printers for sublimation without much fuss. The process is easy, and you can carry it on your printer. The article provides all the information you need along with the step-by-step procedure. I hope it helps!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What printers are ideal for converting for sublimation?
Currently, Epson printers are the most preferred ones to convert for sublimation. They are easy to convert, and inks are readily available for printers. Furthermore, the piezo printheads of the printers make the conversion possible.
Can I use sublimation ink with all printers?
Sublimation ink cannot be used with all printers since it cannot be modified to utilize it with all printers. Inkjet printers that work on piezo printing, like Epson, can be converted for sublimation, while printers utilizing thermal printing technology, like HP, can not. So you can use sublimation ink with some printers from the Epson series but can’t with any HP printer.
Why doesn’t my converted printer yield accurate colors?
As standard printers are made to work with ordinary ink, installing sublimation ink can sometimes cause problems as it can go unrecognized by the printer. Running nozzle check tests is recommended to tackle the problem until you get accurate colors on the testing paper.
Can an old printer be converted to a sublimation printer?
There is a way to utilize a printer that has previously used ordinary ink, but it takes longer and requires intensive cleaning (you must clean it thoroughly). Besides this, the results can be inconsistent. The printer converted to a sublimation printer can only be used for sublimation.
Is sublimation printing worth it?
Sublimation printing is excellent for high-quality and detailed prints. With low initial costs, if you are converting a conventional printer, the method is excellent for small and large-scale businesses.
How to fill the Epson printer with sublimation ink?
Epson has Ecotank and Workforce line of printer models that can be converted using sublimation ink instead of standard ink. For Epson Ecotank models with ink tanks to be filled directly with ink, you only need to dunk the sublimation ink into the corresponding ink tanks.
For Epson Workforce models, which use cartridges, you will need to fill the cartridges using syringes.