can you use a laser printer for sublimation

Can You Use a Laser Printer for Sublimation?

Sublimation has become an increasingly popular technique for printing designs on polyester-based clothes such as t-shirts. Hobbyists and printers usually use either a sublimation printer or a converted inkjet printer. However, can you use a laser printer for sublimation?

In general, you can use a laser printer for sublimation printing provided you use dedicated dye sublimation toners. You will want to find a printer that accepts dye sublimation toner and a reliable manufacturer that can supply it.

Laser Printer

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This article will look into printers you can convert to laser sublimation printing. We will also discuss how to perform sublimation printing using a laser printer. 

Is a Laser Printer for Sublimation Printing Better Than an Inkjet?

A laser printer for dye sublimation may be better than an inkjet if the products you are producing receive less abuse and you are not needing photorealistic quality. Simple line art or vector-based illustrations put on products that have a shorter life span may be a better alternative than inkjet sublimation.

A sublimation laser printer uses dry toner and once fused the image sits more on the surface of the substrate making the image more vulnerable to wearing off. This may create an issue for durability compared to inkjet dye sublimation.

Dye sublimation laser printers are great for speed and ease of use. However, the initial cost of the toner can be cost-prohibitive for some.

Not many hobbyists have the necessary budget to set up a laser printer for sublimation and stock the initial ink which can cost $1,000 for start-up toner kits. not including the printer.

A laser printer for dye sublimation is good for a hobbyist or creator of certain personalized items such as advertising and promotional items that have less daily use would be perfect candidates.

Products Good For Laser Sublimation

You can do sublimation printing with a laser printer. When compared to inkjet, using a laser printer to perform sublimation printing can work just as well as inkjet sublimation.

Items Good For Laser Sublimation

  • Mugs
  • Mousepads
  • Key Chains
  • Coasters
  • Balloons
  • Temporary Tattoos
  • Caps
  • Aprons
  • Ornaments
  • Name Tags

Many other advertising promotional items are good for laser sublimation, for endless ideas on the types of products you could possibly laser sublimate do a quick search online for top-selling promotional items.

Pros & Cons of Laser Dye Sublimation

Pros

Speed. You can print out designs faster with a laser printer than with an inkjet printer. If you print a large batch of substrates, you can do so much faster with a laser printer. 

Laser Printer control panel

Ease: On an inkjet printer, you will need to use special sublimation paper to transfer designs from your print to your substrate. With a laser printer, you only need the usual copy paper, and you can print on any side of the paper that you want.

Cost Savings: Using a laser printer over inkjet will save you on supply costs such as ink and paper. Regular paper is cheaper than dye sublimation paper. Even though the initial price for sublimation toner is more, you will get far more yield from toner vs an inkjet. You will also have less maintenance as inkjet printers require consistent running to prevent print heads from clogging.

Inter-Convertibility. Finally, you can convert your laser printer for both regular and sublimation printing as you wish. You can do so by swapping the toner cartridges. This differs from inkjet sublimation printers.

Inkjet sublimation printers need to be set aside and dedicated as a printer solely for sublimation printing. You cannot mix sublimation ink with regular inkjet ink as it will contaminate the system rendering it useless.

This means with laser sublimation printers you do not need two printers to perform regular and sublimation printing Just one will do. Simply swap cartridges to suit your printing needs at the time. 

Cons

Less Popular. Sublimation printing with laser printers is not as popular as with inkjet printers. People tend to use laser printers to conduct heat transfer printing, another printing method different from sublimation. This means you might not find as many instructions and helpful resources online for laser sublimation printing compared to an inkjet. 

Fewer Suppliers: You might also find purchasing sublimation toner cartridges as well as acceptable printers harder because not many companies make sublimation toner cartridges. You will find sources for sublimation ink for inkjet printers more easily. 

Cost. Initial start-up costs for laser sublimation printing generally cost more than inkjet printers. Individual cartridges cost much more than inkjet sublimation ink. As a result, many people who just want to perform sublimation printing as a hobby will naturally gravitate towards using inkjet printers.

How To Convert A Laser Printer For Sublimation Printing?

To convert a laser printer for dye sublimation printing, all you need is a sublimation toner supplier of cartridges and a correctly matching laser printer. Before printing, simply swap out the regular printer toner cartridges with sublimation toner cartridges.

As a start, ensure you purchase or have a laser printer that has a known manufacturer of laser sublimation toner. You cannot perform laser sublimation on all laser printers as in most models you cannot find a sublimation toner supplier.

Printer with dmyk colors

They could be sourced from third-party makers such as Ghost. They also come in CMYK color format to swap them out with your regular cartridges. 

When purchasing your toner cartridges, ensure that they work with your printer model, because laser printer toner cartridges come in different sizes and shapes. Unlike sublimation ink you can simply refill into tanks, you cannot do the same with toners. 

Now that you have your toners, pull out your toner tray. You may need to refer to your user manual for instructions.  Swap out the regular toner cartridges in your laser printer with your sublimation toners.

In many cases, the toners could simply be removed from the printer by pulling them out from their individual holders. Your printer’s user manual should tell you how to do this. 

Summing Up Using a Laser Printer for Sublimation

In many cases, using a laser printer for sublimation will come down to choices such as how often you plan on using the printer and what types of products you plan on sublimating. Additionally, what can you afford when first starting out, and if you plan on doing sublimating as a business or hobby?

If you plan on sublimating products as we mentioned in this article, have the initial $1,500-$2,000 for start-up costs, and like the idea of low maintenance, print products when I feel like it, this could make sense even for a hobbyist.

The bottom line is you can do dye sublimation on a laser printer you just need to do a little research before purchasing a printer because that is the cheapest part of starting up when you take the laser sublimation route.

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