Sublimation printing is fast becoming the most preferred printing process for many reasons. For one, it’s applicable for specific fabrics as well as hard materials such as ceramic. With its inherent advantages, setting up comes at a considerable cost. Getting the best cheap sublimation printer that lasts could go a long way for you to get started on a new business or hobby.
List Of Best Cheap Sublimation Printer
- Sawgrass SG500 Sublimation Printer
- Epson EcoTank Pro ET-16600 Supertank Wireless Wide-Format Printer
- Brother MFC-J1215W INKvestment Tank All-in-One Printer
- Epson EcoTank ET-2720 Supertank Printer
- Epson EcoTank ET-2760 Wireless Supertank Printer
- Brother HL-L2320D Mono Laser Printer
- Epson EcoTank Photo ET-8500 Supertank Wide-Format
- WorkForce WF-7210 Wireless Color Inkjet Printer Wide-format
- Epson EcoTank ET-2750 Supertank Printer with Scanner & Copier
- Epson EcoTank ET-3760 Supertank Printer
Best Cheap Sublimation Printer for 2021 Review: Key Features, Pros, and Cons
If it’s your first time to come across sublimation printers, you’re probably wondering if there really is such a thing. Well, not really. The term just kind of stuck.
What sublimation printers really are ordinary inkjet printers loaded with sublimation ink. We want to highlight that once you use an inkjet printer for this purpose, you’ll never be able to use it as an ordinary printer again. That’s why you’ll need a dedicated printer for your projects.
But, not all inkjet printers out there are built to print and transfer crisp images that last on media. So, we’ve compiled this list to help you save simply by finding out what you really should be spending on if you’re trying to break through sublimation printing.
1. Sawgrass SG500 Sublimation Printer
- High-resolution image prints
- Supports WiFi connectivity
From the makers of “the only desktop printer designed for sublimation,” the SG500 is designed for performance. Crisp images, intelligent process, software-supported printer ready to give you results just the way you’ve pictured it in your head. The best part is, you get to create up to 51 inches of prints while enjoying its high-quality rendition. No second-guessing.
- This product is specifically designed for sublimation printing projects.
- All purchases come with a 2-year warranty.
- It uses Sawgrass gel-based inks which don’t dry up as fast or as often as liquid-based inks.
- Up to 51 inches of vibrant prints at your fingertips.
- Aftersales support could be an issue in some areas.
- Only Sawgrass inks are compatible with this unit.
2. Epson EcoTank Pro ET-16600 Supertank Wireless Wide-Format Printer
- Voice-activated print commands
- Supports WiFi and Ethernet connections
- 3-inch color touchscreen display
- 25 ppm
If you’re looking for a printer from a reliable brand, it just got to be an Epson. Its proven track record in the print industry gives you the confidence it will do no harm to your business and support your creative endeavors to the fullest.
- All purchases come with a 2-year warranty.
- All units come with an unlimited ink promo valid for up to 2 years from the date of purchase.
- Touchscreen, voice-activated commands, and connectivity options support ease of use.
- Best compatibility with Epson inks which in bottles fit for replacing inks in this unit.
- It’s more expensive but still remains reasonably priced for its inherent capabilities.
- Warranty excludes damages that may be caused by dye inks used for sublimation printing.
3. Brother MFC-J1215W INKvestment Tank All-in-One Printer
- 16 ppm
- Supports wireless connections
- Comes with inks to last for a year
The best cheap sublimation printer that will never sacrifice output quality is this printer from another long-trusted brand, Brother. Unlike the Epson EcoTank Pro ET-16600 Supertank Wireless Wide-Format Printer, this one is not made for high-volume printing projects. And, if speed is a must-have factor for your printing business, this may not make the cut. But, if you’re planning to use it for personal, occasional projects then this will definitely be a great companion.
- This is a low-cost, high-output quality sublimation printer.
- It’s compact and wouldn’t need much space for your to work around.
- App-supported so you get your prints right before you queue.
- It supports email and AirPrint supported so you don’t get tangled up in messy wiring.
- Warranty coverage may differ across geographies and sellers.
4. Epson EcoTank ET-2720 Supertank Printer
- Color display screen
- Supports mobile and wireless printing
- Comes with up to 2 years supply of inks
Create and print whenever inspiration suddenly strikes with this small format printer from Epson. Tinker on your tablet or create your design on your mobile. Print right after you’ve added the finishing touches. Now, you’ll never have to wait to get on your desktop before you can start adoring your beautiful printouts. See your creations come to life with just one touch.
- Keep printing more for longer with up to 2 years of ink supply that comes with unit purchase.
- This unit is capable of delivering borderless printouts.
- Cartridge-free printing means less mess, more savings from replacement inks.
- Unit is also capable of copying and scanning.
- All purchases are covered by a 2-year warranty.
- This printer is not capable of large format printing.
5. Epson EcoTank ET-2760 Wireless Supertank Printer
- Cartridge-free inks
- Supports wireless printing
- Supports voice command
- Comes with a memory card slot
When your creativity requires a mid-range printer, this one is it. It may not be capable of large format printing but if you don’t need it or seldom do, why care? This is the most cost-efficient choice when your creativity needs you to be up and about but still help you retain control whenever inspiration strikes you.
- Wireless and mobile printing bring ease of operation.
- This unit comes with a scanner that expands your design playground.
- It is suitable for home or light office use.
- Tank inks translate to savings in the long run.
- This unit is not capable of large-format printing.
6. Brother HL-L2320D Mono Laser Printer
- 0 USB connectivity
Looking for a functional, entry-level sublimation printer? We suggest you try this one from Brother. If the lack of wireless connectivity or mobile printing support doesn’t bother you or, isn’t required in your line of business anyway, this could be a great option. It lets you do what you need to do at a lower cost of setup without sacrificing quality.
- It’s capable of fast printing which is great if speed is a top must-have in running your business.
- Cost is unparalleled, probably one of the best low-cost printers you’ll come across.
- The model has been updated since its original version was released.
- This unit does not support wireless queuing.
- Scanning is not included.
7. Epson EcoTank Photo ET-8500 Supertank Wide-Format
- 3-inch color touchscreen
- Precision colored prints
- 2-year limited warranty
Earn the freedom to print on a wider variety of media with this printer. Print, copy, or scan using the same unit. Plus, do all that with the convenience of wireless connection. For faster network queuing with multiple users, use its ethernet connectivity. Epson’s EcoTank ink technology also sets you up for more prints at less cost.
- This unit supports the printing of Kraft cupboards and other media up to 1.3mm thick.
- EcoTank equals more printouts and bigger savings.
- Wide-format printing allows you to work on a wider range of projects.
- Its range of functionality makes it great for running print-on-demand businesses.
- It delivers crisp images perfect for sublimation printing.
- The body may feel fragile and may need more care than other types of large-format printers.
8. WorkForce WF-7210 Wireless Color Inkjet Printer Wide-format
- Up to 80% more energy efficient vs. other laser printers
- 2-inch display
- 18 ppm Black printing
- 10 ppm colored printing
Print directly or via wireless connection with this printer. It may be running on a cartridge but with Amazon Dash, you’ll never have to run out of ink ever again. If you’re working on large format sublimation printing projects that require speed, this one could be a great fit.
- This unit comes with a feeder for special paper.
- LCD display shows printing status.
- The unit supports wireless, Wi-Fi, and mobile printing.
- This unit doesn’t come with Epson’s Ecotank technology.
9. Epson EcoTank ET-2750 Supertank Printer with Scanner & Copier
- EcoTank ink technology
- Comes with scanner
- Built-in memory card slot
- 44-inch color display screen
Frequent, high-volume printing simply requires cheaper, longer-lasting ink tanks that never get in the way of creating something beautiful. This unit matches your untiring, creative mind with unparalleled printing precision — and who said you ever have to break the bank to achieve all that? Get the performance you need for a reasonable cost with the Epson EcoTank ET-2750.
- It offers high-volume, low-cost per unit printing all the time.
- EcoTank allows for less frequent ink replacement which equates to bigger savings.
- Since it supports queuing from your mobile, your creativity knows no restraints.
- This printer is not capable of large-format printing.
10. Epson EcoTank ET-3760 Supertank Printer
- USB, WiFi, and ethernet connectivity
- Supports voice-activated printing
- 4-inch LED screen display
If your hobby or work requires printing, scanning, and copying all at the same time, get to do all of that with just one machine — this one. Efficient printing with inexpensive ink means you can do more with less.
- Use this unit seamlessly with your mobile devices.
- Epson’s EcoTank ink technology supports easy ink replacement.
- Spend less time worrying about ink cost and replacement and more time creating beautiful things.
- All purchases come with a 2-year warranty.
- The display is not a touchscreen.
Sublimation Printer on a Budget: Buying Guide
So now that you know it’s the function it serves that makes an inkjet printer a sublimation printer, can you get just any inkjet printer for this purpose? We hope you won’t be buying at first glance without thoroughly looking at the product features more closely first.
Here are the most basic factors you want to count in your decision to buy or not to buy a printer for sublimation printing:
Are you planning to print larger images? Well, in that case, a standard, letter-sized printer simply wouldn’t do. You’ll need to go for wider format printers like the Epson EcoTank Pro ET-16600 if that’s your intention.
On the contrary, if you’re planning to print on smaller canvas or merch, there’s no need for you to splurge on a larger printer which would likely be more expensive than a standard-sized one. In which case, you’ll be better off shaving your printer costs because there are other materials you’ll need for a sublimation printing project.
Cleaning and Maintenance
If you’ve done any sort of printing before, even on ordinary paper, you know how difficult and messy it can be when your printer stops printing. Ask the seller about the unit’s maintenance requirements and if there’s any kit you’ll need to get it running in case it stops printing due to poor upkeep. Make sure to always have that kit within arm’s reach.
Regardless of the type of printer you buy, make sure to use your printer at least once every week to keep the ink from drying out and getting stuck in the feeders.
Cost of Ink
You may have found the cheapest sublimation printer in the market but if the ink or cartridge is too expensive anyway, you’ll be spending your precious dollars quickly just the same.
Tank or Cartridge?
Some would go for tanks without batting an eyelash. But, I think your choice should depend on your intended purpose as well.
If you’re planning to print in large volumes, you’ll need a printer with a tank. For business purposes, printers such as the Epson EcoTank Pro ET-16600 Supertank are clearly your best choice. Otherwise, it will be good enough to settle for a printer that runs on cartridges if it’s to fulfill occasional, personal projects requiring minimal ink quantity.
Before you shop for a sublimation printer, come up with a budget that will help you get set up for exactly the kinds of projects that you have in mind. Write down the things you’ll need other than a printer then check out the price range. Set the amount you are willing to shell out for each item on your list and stick to it.
Without a realistic budget, you might end up buying the best performing sublimation printer in the market but be left with nothing to spend for a heat press. That gets you nowhere near getting started creating. Keep in mind that you need all the things on your list to get your project done.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How is sublimation printing different from other printing processes?
Like any other printing technique, sublimation printing has its pros and cons. Personally, I think that the worst con is that it’s more expensive than most to set up initially. However, if you’re thinking of setting up a print-on-demand business, it’s also easier to scale up and it requires fewer people to get each unit done from start to finish.
Q: Is sublimation printing different from heat transfer?
Several printing techniques require some form of heat transfer to imprint the print-out image on fabric or some other material like a ceramic mug. Sublimation printing involves printing a mirror image of your design on a sublimation printer. That is applied to the material using heat transfer.
Sublimation printing refers to the dye used which transforms from solid to gas thus, demonstrating sublimation.
Q: Is sublimation printing better than screen printing?
In many ways, yes. For one, the crispness of the image and the range of colors that you can use are practically unlimited with sublimation printing. Screen printing can be quite limited in these areas.
Another advantage of sublimation printing over screen printing is that the sublimation dye penetrates and becomes absorbed by the fibers. On the contrary, screen printing leaves the dye sitting on top of the fabric, causing it to peel off more easily.
Q: What materials work best with a sublimation printer?
Sublimation printing works better with certain materials than others. More specifically, it works well on fabrics that are between 80% and 100% made with polyester. While it is fade-resistant on polyester, it does not work well with cotton fabrics. It also works great on ceramic, metal, and glass.
As you may have already figured, the best cheap sublimation printer is relative to whoever is buying. You don’t have to get the most expensive product out there if it doesn’t match your specific requirements anyway.
Keep in mind the factors we’ve listed under the buying guide section to find the printer most suited for your needs. Make the best use of your equipment by getting the right sublimation paper, heat press, and other things you’ll need to get started with your projects. Let your imagination soar and keep creating!