You may have heard about inkjet printers with ‘sublimation technology.’ This can be confusing and may leave you wondering if you can convert your inkjet printers. Can I use an inkjet printer for sublimation?
Inkjet printers with piezoelectric print heads can be used for sublimation printing and are compatible with sublimation ink. However, prior to using, it is important to check your inkjet printers technical specifications and also make sure you have dye sublimation ink, not pigment based ink.
Keep reading for more important conversion tips that could save you time and a bunch of headaches.
This article will discuss if you can convert inkjet printers for sublimation printing and which inkjet printers you can convert. We also discuss how you accomplish the conversion process.
ALSO READ: The difference between a Sublimation Printer and inkjet.
What Inkjet Printers Are Suitable For Sublimation?
Inkjet printers that use piezo (pressure) technology are suitable for sublimation printing. Piezo printheads work with sublimation ink and do not degrade print quality. Inkjet printers use either Piezo (pressure) or thermal (heat) technology to deliver images or texts to the surface of the paper.
If you intend to convert an inkjet printer for sublimation printing. Use ones with Piezo technology and make sure it is either refurbished or brand new and never used.
Epson inkjet printer examples that can be converted into sublimation printing:
Epson Ecotank Series
Ecotank series are preferred by many sublimation printers as they have refillable tanks which makes it easy to convert. Affiliate links below where we found best pricing.
Small format Ecotank examples prints up to 8.5×14
- ET-2800 (link to Amazon for best pricing on this model)
- ET-2400 (link to eBay for best pricing on this model)
Wider format Ecotank examples prints up to 13×19
- ET-15000 (link to Amazon for best pricing on this model)
- ET-8550 (link to Amazon for best pricing on this model)
PROFESSIONAL TIP: Used inkjet printers with piezo technology can be converted but if they have been sitting around for any length of time the print heads could be dried up permanently.
Is a used inkjet Printer Ok For Sublimation?
A brand-new inkjet printer is better for sublimation, than a used one. With a new print system there’s no previously used ink to contend with.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Sublimation ink is different from regular ink and mixing them will cause your printer to function poorly and produce terrible results.
With mixed ink, your printer would neither be able to print on regular paper well nor will it perform on sublimation paper.
If you decide to convert a used inkjet printer, you will need to thoroughly flush out the old ink from the system. Many experts claim that this can be done, but not all agree. If the process isn’t successful, you risk ruining your printer.
How To Convert Inkjet Printer For Sublimation?
You can convert new inkjet printers for sublimation simply by using sublimation ink and sublimation paper.
Depending on the condition of the inkjet printer, you may need to implement different steps to convert your inkjet printer for sublimation. For simplicity, we will describe the process for an Epson EcoTank ET2720, as this model is easy to set up for sublimation and is affordable.
Convert Brand New Inkjet Printer For Sublimation
To convert your brand new inkjet printer for sublimation:
- Prepare the following:
a. Sublimation ink (Hiippoo or Cosmos)
b. Sublimation paper
- Open up your printer, but do not turn it on. If you turn it on, the system may run and draw air into the ink tubes, causing issues with ink flow.
- Observe the external tanks on the printer. You should see four tanks labeled C, M, Y, and K (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) on the outside of the printer and inside where they fill.
- The tank should be empty and never used for best results. If there is ink inside, the printer may not be brand new.
- Open up your refillable sublimation ink kit. As mentioned above which come with specially fitted bottles and instructions.
- Put on your glove. This avoids the ink from getting on your skin throughout the filling process.
- Break the ink bottle seals attach the special ink bottle tops and fill each tank one at a time to be safe and not fill in the wrong ink compartment.
- Wipe the outside fill hole each time to remove residue before advancing to next color.
- Repeat for all 4 colors.
Run Print Diagnostics and New Printer Set-Up
- Now power up your printer, and do not connect it to your computer as yet. The printer will take a few minutes to set up to prime the print head and fill the ink tube with ink from the tank. Don’t worry if it tells you to fill the ink as this step is complete, just continue.
- Follow printer set up, charging inks, nozzle cleaning and print test patterns and alignment checks. All these steps may take up to 20 minutes.
- Now connect the printer to your computer running the connection wizard.
- Test Prints – During initial test print, ensure that the printer: a. Is set to print on ‘premium presentation paper matte’ since sublimation paper is matte.
b. Set print quality as ‘high.’
c. Has the ‘mirror image’ option checked.
- Now try to print a design and see if they appear correctly.
- You are done!
Can You Convert A Refurbished Inkjet Printer?
If you are looking for a real inexpensive route for a dye sublimation printer and don’t want to take the chance of converting a brand new one refurbished could be an option.
We have found that eBay has several good buys for refurbished Epson Eco-Tank printers and printer bundles like these ones here.
You can also find good deals on reputable dye sublimation ink manufacturers such as Hiippoo and others.
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