Are you looking for the best sublimation printer for beginners? Well, you’re in luck, because I am doing a comparison between two of the best sublimation printers! (At least my two favorite options and the ones I personally recommend to my fellow crafters!)
If you’re buying a sublimation printer for the first time, you might be feeling overwhelmed. There are a lot of different options, brands, features, and price ranges. How are you supposed to know which printer is the best bang for your buck? How do you know which printer will do the best job?
If you’re anything like me… you’ve probably even looked on Google or YouTube a few times already asking these exact questions.
It can be helpful to ask someone who has used these crafting items before you. But, it can also add to the confusion as everyone seems to recommend different options. But I want this blog post to be different.
Best Sublimation Printer For Beginners
I want you to walk away after reading this feeling confident about which printer you have decided to buy. That’s why I am only comparing two printers in this blog post.
I always find myself coming back to the same 2 options; the Epson ET 8550 and Sawgrass SG 500. That’s why these are the two sublimation printers that I am going to compare head-to-head in this blog post.
We’ll look at their features, pros and cons, and cost comparisons so you can decide which one is right for your needs.
What Is Sublimation Printing?
First of all, let’s take a quick minute to talk about what sublimation printing actually is. I know for new crafters, this can be a little bit confusing since the process looks very similar to the kind of printing you might be used to doing.
Regular printers use a different kind of ink than sublimation printers do. This can include liquid ink, water-based ink, solid ink, and more. The problem with all of these inks and crafting is that these inks aren’t formulated to infuse into the fabrics. And honestly, they just don’t look as nice.
It’s kind of like printing a photo onto a regular sheet of paper instead of using photo paper. The results are night and day.
Sublimation printing is different because you use special inks which are designed to last much longer, you also use polyester and polyester blend fabrics for sublimation.
And they produce a high-quality print of your design, the colors are very vibrant, and you can infuse this ink onto so many different materials such as mugs, fabrics for t-shirts, hats, and more.
This is why it is important that you choose the best sublimation printer for beginners when just getting started. It will make your crafts looks so good. People will think you’ve had everything made professionally.
Can Any Printer Be Used For Sublimation?
Unfortunately, a regular printer cannot do sublimation printing, without some workarounds. This is because sublimation requires special ink, and most ink manufacturers don’t make ink cartridges with that kind of ink to fit into your normal use printer.
Some people make the mistake of thinking a regular inkjet printer with pigment ink can do sublimation, but it can’t. You need the ink and paper specifically made for sublimation.
However, it is important to do your research before buying one of these printers to see if other crafters have used them since they still won’t work 100% as a sublimation printer does.
I talk more about this below.
What Do I Need To Know Before Buying A Sublimation Printer?
Before we talk about the best sublimation printer for beginners, I want to take a moment to talk about some personal things you should consider before buying a printer. Because you will need to factor some of these things in when making your choice.
What Projects Are You Doing?
First and foremost, decide what type of projects you will be using the printer for. If you plan to print T-shirts or coffee mugs then you don’t need anything too big.
But if you want to do more larger format projects like printing on all-over t-shirts, then a larger format sublimation printer may be best for your needs.
How Often Will The Printer Be Used?
Are you planning to use this for your business, or is it just for home use? This is important to think about, because if you will be using it a lot, then it’s a good idea to consider investing more in a good-quality printer that will last you a long time.
How Much Space Do You Have?
Both options I compare in this blog post come in a compact design, but they still require some counter space in order to set up and work properly. So, it’s important to figure out how much space you have before you make a buying decision.
Lastly, you will want to consider your budget. All sublimation printers vary in cost, and you should know how much you are comfortable spending.
What Is The Best Sublimation Printer For Beginners Or Small Business Owners?
Since I started my crafting journey, I have been lucky enough to try several different sublimation printers. And they all have their pros and cons. But, I always find myself coming back to the same two options: the Epson ET 8550 and the Sawgrass SG 500. These are what I am comparing in this blog post.
But, I want to take a moment to say there is no one best printer. Every crafter has different needs, a different budget, and accessibility to different types of printers depending on where you live. So, at the end of the day, the best printer is the one that works best for you.
When I say these are the two best options, this is based on my personal experience using these printers and other printers like them. I hope that these two options will work as well for you as they have for me.
|Epson ET 8550
|Sawgrass SG 500
|Ink Replacement Costs
|PC & Mac
|PC, Mac, IOS, & more
|WiFi + Direct
|WiFi & Direct
|Maximum Print Size
|13″ x 19″
|8.5″ x 14″
|Only Bundled Software
Epson ET 8550
When choosing the best sublimation printer for beginners, a great printer to consider is the Epson ET 8550.
Epson printers are known for being high-quality printers that last a long time, and the Epson ET 8550 is no different.
What’s funny is this printer wasn’t even designed to be used as a sublimation printer. Yet, it is arguably one of the best printers you can use for sublimation.
I converted this one myself. You can learn How To Setup An Epson ET-8550 For Sublimation too!
It’s an ideal choice for both personal use and small businesses. So, whether you need it to print 100 designs or a couple thousand, you can rest easy knowing you are going to get good-quality prints with this machine.
One of my favorite things about the Epson ET 8550 is that it doesn’t need ink cartridges. This is because it is an Epson Ecotank printer which simply means it comes with refillable ink tanks. This is much more environmentally friendly than the plastic cartridges you have to recycle with other printers.
Some of the features of this printer include:
- 552 pages printed / 1 tank of ink (approximately).
- The print speed is 12 pages per minute (with colored ink).
- Lab-quality prints with high resolution.
- Includes Wi-fi connectivity.
- Ability to see your ink levels at all times.
Now that you know how the printer works and some of its features, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of this particular printer.
Pros Of The Epson ET 8550
- When Epson designed this printer, they had creatives in mind. So, it has automatic features like auto-feed and sheet detection. This makes the printing process a breeze!
- It’s designed to be easy to use. When you set it up, they include a step-by-step guide as well as technical support if needed to get you up and running quickly.
- The Epson ET 8550 is compatible with both PCs and Macs. This means it will work with whatever computer you use to make your designs.
- It prints beautiful, vibrant colors that make your design pop on the crafts you’re making.
- It’s a wide-format printer. So, if you’re looking for a wide-format sublimation printer, this is one of the best printers you can buy.
- You can use it with almost any software.
Cons Of The Epson ET 8550
- It’s more expensive than the Sawgrass SG 500 printer.
- You can’t connect this printer to an iPad, tablet, or mobile phone. So, if you do a lot of designing on the go, you will have to transfer your designs to your desktop computer to print them out. This can be frustrating, especially if you do all of your designing on your tablet or phone.
- Since this printer was not designed to be a sublimation printer, you will have to make a few modifications. For example, you need to replace the ink it came with in exchange for sublimation ink. You will also have to do your own color management. This may be difficult for beginners who are just starting out. Luckily, there are a lot of YouTube videos that walk you through how to do this, step-by-step.
- (Important note – once you add sublimation ink to this printer, it will void the warranty and customer support. But, since a lot of crafters have used this printer to do their sublimation printing, you can find a lot of support online if you have any issues with the printer.)
- The cost of replacement ink is more expensive.
- You have to manually clean the ink heads to avoid them getting plugged up.
To compare the Epson ET 8550 against the Sawgrass SG 500, go here.
Sawgrass SG 500
When choosing the best sublimation printer for beginners, another great option is the Sawgrass SG 500.
Sawgrass printers are also known for their high-quality printing making this another excellent choice for your sublimation printing! Especially since this one was designed as a sublimation printer unlike the Epson printer.
This means you won’t have to do any tinkering or adjustments to get it up and running. And even though the printer is technically cheaper, it still comes with the awesome features that you would expect from a top-of-the-line sublimation printer.
Some of the features of this printer include:
- Expert color management software.
- 2-Year Warranty
- Excellent print quality on all sublimation prints.
- Includes the special sublimation ink.
- Various connectivity options.
- Tech support which is great for beginners.
But, like any crafting tool, there are still some disadvantages you need to know about before you run out and buy this printer. Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of this printer.
Pros Of The Sawgrass SG 500
- It comes with sublimation inks. This makes the setup process incredibly easy for beginners.
- If you need help setting up the printer, a Sawgrass sales rep can get on a call with you and walk you through the process. This can be really helpful for anyone who is new to sublimation printing.
- The printer is compatible with both PCs and Mac computers. So, no matter what kind of computer you use for designing your crafts, this one will work seamlessly with it.
- You can connect this printer to an iPad, tablet, or mobile phone. This can be very helpful if you like to design on the go or don’t have a computer to use.
- This printer has a lower cost than the Epson ET 8550, which makes it a great option for those who are just starting out.
- It comes with self-cleaning ink heads which is great if you tend to forget to clean your machine, or if you don’t use it consistently.
- The cost of replacement ink is cheaper.
Cons Of The Sawgrass SG 500
- This printer doesn’t come with as many bells and whistles. If you want more features, you will need to consider some other printer options.
- Can only be used with Sawgrass’s built-in software.
- Has a smaller maximum print size.
- To compare the Sawgrass SG 500 against the Epson ET 8550, go here.
How Long Do Sublimation Printers Last?
Sublimation printers usually last for about five years or more, depending on how well you take care of them. If you keep the printer clean and properly maintained, it can last even longer than that.
What Kind Of Crafts Can I Make With Sublimation?
There are so many possibilities!
Firstly you can make different clothing items, tote bags, and so on with fabric. All you need is a design, sublimation paper, your sublimation printer, a blank, and a heat press!
Here are some designs you can download for free on my website.
- Free Blessed Mama PNG For Sublimation
- Free Born To Be A Unicorn Sublimation Design
- Sublimation Tie Dye Teaching Is My Jam + Free SVG
I’ve also got a full guide on the best sublimation shirt blanks that you can use to make t-shirts.
Here are some more designs you can download for free on my website.
- Free Unicorn Mom Sublimation Tumbler Design
- Sublimation Coffee Mug For Teacher Appreciation Day
- Best Dad Coffee Mug Design-Cricut Mug Press
When it comes to choosing the best sublimation printer for beginners, both the Epson ET 8550 and the Sawgrass SG 500 are great options. While they both have their own pros and cons, they both allow you to get started with sublimation printing right away.
I hope this blog post helped you narrow down which sublimation printer is the perfect choice for you and your needs. Happy crafting!