Can You Use a Regular Printer for Sublimation?

You can’t use a regular printer for sublimation because sublimation requires a specific kind of ink to make the process work. You can use sublimation paper in a regular printer, and the printer will be fine, but you won’t get sublimated prints. 

This post will examine if you can use a regular printer for sublimation printing. I’ll explain why you need a dedicated sublimation printer to make this happen and some other related information to help your printing jobs go according to plan. 

Let’s get rolling. 

Key Takeaways

  • A regular printer will not work for sublimation because you need a specific type of heat-activated ink to facilitate the sublimation process. 
  • Some regular printers can be converted into sublimation printers and you can also purchase sublimation-specific printers. 
  • Using sublimation paper in a regular printer won’t harm that printer, but it won’t result in sublimation. 

What Kind of Printer do You Need for Sublimation?

You need a sublimation printer or an inkjet printer that has been converted to sublimate to make sublimation happen. You can’t use any type of printer, and a regular printer won’t do the job. 

If you need to get sublimated prints, it’s a good idea to invest in a specialized sublimation printer to make this happen. These printers are designed for this purpose and are the best way to achieve high-end results. 

But you can also convert a regular printer into a sublimation printer. Not every type of regular printer can be converted, but if you already have a printer sitting around, you can check to see if it’s convertible for sublimation. 

For sublimation to occur, you need both sublimation paper and a printer capable of sublimating. A particular type of heat-activated ink is required, and this, combined with sublimation paper, makes the entire process happen. 

To convert a printer for sublimation, you need an inkjet printer that uses piezo-type ink heads. These can be converted into the heat-activated ink that is necessary for sublimation. The process to convert them isn’t that complicated. 

Epson and Sawgrass are two common brands that feature piezo-style heads, and they both can be converted into sublimation printers. Other brands of inkjet printers most likely won’t work, so keep that in mind when looking for sublimation-capable options. 

Sublimation Printer vs Regular Printer

Sublimation printers and regular printers differ from one another in the type of printing they are capable of. Sublimation printers basically penetrate the paper to set the ink into the actual paper material. 

This differs from regular printers that print ink directly on top of a piece of paper. Most regular printers are inkjet-style printers, which have been commonly used for years. Not everyone has the need for sublimation printing. 

To get sublimated prints, you need sublimation paper and a sublimation printer. You can’t have one or the other. Sublimation printers cannot sublimate onto regular printer paper. And regular printers can sublimate onto sublimation paper. 

Sublimation printers are good for printing things like complex graphics or when you want to print on special materials like plastics. Regular printers are still the best option for printing standard documents for a variety of purposes.

What Are the Disadvantages of Sublimation Printing? 

Sublimation printing requires a special printer and a specific type of paper. Most people don’t have access to either of these at home, so that’s one disadvantage of sublimation printing. It’s not as easily accessible as regular printing. 

This also increases the cost of sublimation printing because you need special equipment, including the printer, ink, and paper. While the costs are enormous, they are more than standard printing. 

Sublimation printers are also pretty slow. The printing process takes longer, so you won’t be able to print as many items as quickly as you would with a regular printer. But if you need sublimated prints, you’ll have to deal with the slower pace. 

How to Choose the Best Sublimation Ink

Here are a few things that you should take into consideration.

Color and Resolution

As sublimation is such an involved process, you need to make sure your final image comes out exactly as planned. Favor inks that provide you with excellent color accuracy and exceptional precision.

While it’s easy to go with cheaper models that get you close to your goal, not having the right shade or resolution can lead to disaster. You want bright ink that pops at all times.

Ease of Use

No matter how much experience you have working with printers, you want to be able to easily fill and install your ink. That may not seem like a big deal to more seasoned users, but cutting down busy work is always a bonus.

Inks with easy-refill cartridges simplify the process. Also, cartridges that are made in a way that makes them easy to load directly into your printer are recommended.


Everyone who uses a printer knows how much ink can cost. Sublimation can run even more. The general goal is to always stay within your budget and only get what you can afford.

However, the current inks vary wildly in price. Though most inks will be close in color quality, more expensive ones do come with better customer service. Go with those brands if you’re new or tend to get stuck when working with technology.

What’s the Best Sublimation Ink?

Here are a few that we recommend, along with a quick review so you get to know the pros and cons of each one.

1. Printers Jack 400ML

This is our top pick simply because of the fact that it works on so many different items. From plates to shirts to mugs to phones, there is almost nothing this ink can’t stick on.

That’s because it’s both fade-resistant and long-lasting, a combination that ensures you’ll be able to get bright, eye-catching results no matter what you create.

Another bonus of this ink is that it’s quite easy to refill and can be installed in no time at all. That makes it quite easy to use and enables anyone, regardless of experience, to get it going.

The ink is durable as well. It holds up under light and is waterproof in a way where you don’t have to worry about your hard work being washed away. If you need something that will last a while, it’s hard to do better than these bottles.

2. Ink Jet Anti-UV

Few inks give you vivid colors like the Ink Jet Anti-UV. This brand is one of the best ways to bring your images to life thanks to its stunning shades.

Not only do the bright hues pop, but the darker colors (especially black) are also deep and rich. That makes this the best ink for printers who need detailed or more intense pictures.

People also choose this ink because of how easy it is to fill. Unlike other models, it has a handy built-in spout so you can easily put ink in with no spills and little mess.

On top of that, the price tag is affordable and gives you a lot of ink. Where many inks quickly run out only after a few print jobs, this will keep going and going before you need to get more. It also doesn’t clog and is one of the more durable options that can stand up to the elements quite nicely.

3. Xcinkjet Sublimation Ink

Few sublimation inks are as easy to use as the ones from Xcinkjet. These, which come in four distinct colors, are some of the most reliable models on the market.

Not only do they stay bright and colorful for extended periods of time, but they also go on just about any model or surface. In addition, they come with incredible customer support.

The Xcinkjet team is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to ensure any questions or issues you might have are fully resolved.


Here are a few short answers to some of the most commonly asked questions relating to if you can use a regular printer for sublimation. 

Can you turn a regular printer into a sublimation printer? 

You can turn some regular printers into sublimation printers by changing the type of ink, but this won’t work for every printer. Epson printers are one brand you can convert, but many other standard printers won’t work. 

Can you use any printer to sublimate? 

No, you need to use a printer capable of sublimation to actually sublimate. These printers have a special type of heat-activated ink that helps make sublimation happen, and standard Inkjet printers won’t work for this. 

Can I use regular printer ink on sublimation paper? 

You can use regular printer ink on sublimation paper. But unless you have a printer set up for sublimation, you won’t actually be able to sublimate. Sublimation paper won’t harm a standard printer, but it won’t make that printer sublimate either. 

Other Useful Tips

As sublimation is a lesser-known process, not everyone is aware of how it works. If you’re new to the entire method, or if you simply want a few extra pointers on how to create solid pieces, this guide gives you everything you need to know to get started.

Sublimation is an involved process. Ink and a quality printer are both important, but they are far from the only items you need.

This video covers all of the important accessories and will help get you on your way to awesome prints.

Final Thoughts

You can’t use a regular printer for sublimation in most cases. Some inkjet printers can be converted for sublimation, but only if they have piezo-style printing heads. Most regular printer brands use a different type of head. 

If you want the ability to sublimate, you’ll need a sublimation printer and sublimation paper. Both of these are required to make the printing process work. 

What do you use sublimation printing for? Have you ever converted an inkjet printer for sublimation? Let me know in the comments below. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *