Do you want to transform your boring shirts with eye-catchy custom designs? Or are you thinking of starting your own shirt-printing business? In both scenarios, you will need the best sublimation printer for shirts that can handle any fabric type efficiently.
Unlike traditional methods, sublimation printing ensures high-quality, color-dense designs with minimum chance of peeling or cracking over time. Although these printers can be costly, their long-term benefits can certainly outweigh the costs, especially if you’re buying them to start a new business.
However, for that, you need to get your hands on the best printing device under your budget without compromising the quality. So, after performing deep research and skimming through the user reviews, I’ve narrowed down 4 leading options to make your search easier.
Let’s get started with our detailed overview of the following sublimation printers.
List of Best Sublimation Printers For Shirts
- Epson EcoTank ET-2760
- HP Envy 6055
- Epson WorkForce WF-7720
- Canon PIXMA G-6020
- Paper Capacity: 100 sheets
- Printing Speed: 5 ppm for color and 10.5 ppm for monochrome
- Printing Resolution: 5760 x 1440 dpi
- Connectivity: USB and Ethernet
Why is this our number 1 pick? Not only does it offers high-quality results, but its innovative cartridge-free printing can save up to 90% of your ink replacement cost. That’s one of the many reasons behind the Epson ET-2760 being an absolute favorite of hobbyists.
As I skimmed through the user reviews, most of them were quite fascinated by the sharpness and vibrancy of the prints produced by this printer. It is due to the fact that the ET-2760 printer uses PrecisionCore Heat-Free technology.
Speaking of its body, this printer has a compact, smooth build that can easily be placed on a small desk. Additionally, the color display panel makes document copying and navigating a breeze, especially for newbie hobbyists.
What I Like the Most About Epson ET-2760
Built-in Scanner: Have a hand-drawn sketch you want to be printed on a shirt? Then this printer’s built-in scanner will come in handy. It can seamlessly scan any physical document and transfer the exact high-resolution design to the sublimation paper.
With ET-2760, you can even combine the hand-drawn sketch with digital graphics and generate unique, eye-catchy patterns.
Voice-Activated Printing: I particularly like this feature a lot as it allows hands-free printing, helping users to perform multiple tasks efficiently. This especially helps hobbyists who want to transform their love for sublimating shirts into a business. By using it, they can improve their work productivity and serve several clients simultaneously.
Huge Amount of Ink: The printer comes packed with high-quality pigment ink lasting up to 2 years. On average, it can print almost 7,500 black and 6,000 color pages, which equals almost 90 traditional cartridges.
Not only will it reduce the expenses, but it will also fulfill your responsibility towards the environment by opting for a zero-cartridge waste printer.
Slow Speed: The printer’s speed may get slow sometimes. But it can work absolutely fine for hobbyists with minimal printing demands.
- Paper Capacity: 100 sheets
- Printing Speed: 7 ppm for color and 10 ppm for monochrome
- Printing Resolution: 1200 x 1200 dpi
- Connectivity: Bluetooth, WiFi, and USB
Choosing the top printer between EcoTank and HP was difficult as both offer top-notch functionalities. But the former won for its massive amount of ink that’s enough for 2 years of usage. Contrarily, with HP Envy, you can get free ink for up to 2 months, then you’ll have to pay for it.
As I went through the user reviews, I saw people raving about the versatility of this printer. They were quite impressed by how HP Envy 6055 produces high-quality prints as well as scans and copies documents smoothly.
The self-healing WiFi is another feature of this printer that seems to impress hobbyists a lot. This technology can automatically detect and resolve any issues within your network.
What I Like the Most About HP Envy 6055
Large Paper Tray: The paper input tray of this printer is large enough to avoid annoying jams. Meanwhile, it can hold up to 100 sheets simultaneously, eliminating the hassle of frequent paper refilling.
Borderless Printing: With this feature, you can print designs on the entire transfer paper up to its edge. This allows sublimating shirts with a full bleed effect having intricate details and stunning visuals.
Smart App: HP Envy’s smartphone application has taken the use of technology to the next level with its innovative features. The app monitors the ink’s level, allows remote printing, and lets you scan documents through your pocket device.
Additionally, users can directly print images from their camera roll, social media, or Google Photos using this application.
Complex Setting-up Process: Some users found it difficult to set up HP Envy for the first time. This might be frustrating, especially if you are a beginner. But once the printer is ready to use, its beneficial features will make your efforts worth it.
- Paper Capacity: 500 sheets
- Printing Speed: 18 ppm
- Printing Resolution: 4800 x 2400 dpi
- Connectivity: WiFi
Here is my third pick, the Epson WF-7720, which can be an excellent choice for transforming your hobby into a profitable business. It can easily handle high-volume printing of up to 500 sheets without compromising the quality of the designs.
WF-7720 had all the potential to grab the top spot in my list of the best sublimation printer for shirts. However, the higher ink consumption rate poses a major concern for hobbyists who want to reduce costs. Additionally, it is giant, so you’ll need to allot some extra space for the printer’s placement.
Apart from these minor issues, users have some good things to say about this printer. They love its capability to scan and print large-size images of up to 11 x 17 inches. Additionally, the WF-7720 can even sublimate borderless designs of 13 x 19 inches for the shirts.
What I Like the Most About Epson WorkForce 7720
4x DURABrite Ink Cartridges: It offers high-quality cartridges of 4 different colors, including cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. These cartridges produce long-lasting prints that are fade and smudge-resistant.
Moreover, their longevity is a plus point. It helps counter the printer’s issue of higher ink usage.
Automated Document Feeder: Hobbyists with shirt printing startups are absolutely raving about the auto document feeder of the printer. It lets them scan and copy several batches of images together — a huge time saver.
Dual Paper Tray: The feature that I personally like about the WorkForce 7720 printer is its dual paper tray, which can print designs on two different types and sizes of sheets simultaneously.
An Expensive Buy: It comes with a bit higher price tag compared to other options in the list. But its exceptional features, like high printing volume and automated document feeder, make it a worthwhile investment for business purposes.
- Paper Capacity: 250 sheets
- Printing Speed: 6.8 ppm for color and 13 ppm for monochrome
- Printing Resolution: 4800 x 1200 dpi
- Connectivity: WiFi, Wired LAN, and Hi-Speed USB
Last but not least, I have the Canon PIXMA G6020 on the list, which is an all-in-one printer with almost everything a hobbyist needs for sublimating shirts. The best part? It allows printing with pigment and dye-based ink, which I think is a great option if you want to experiment with different techniques.
Although it lacks an automated document feeder, you can still scan multiple sequential documents simultaneously. However, it does not work automatically, so you have to flip each page manually.
Moreover, the printing capacity is not as large, but it can work for printing small designs up to 8.5 x 11 inches. Also it can print borderless photos as well.
What I Like the Most About Canon PIXMA G6020
Huge Ink Costs Savings: I am quite impressed by the Canon MegaTank ink bottles, with 30 times the amount of ink in traditional cartridges. Even the majority of users have a similar opinion, as it conveniently serves their high-volume printing needs without breaking the bank.
Flatbed Scanner: This feature is helpful when you want to sublimate designs from any book or magazine onto the shirt. It can seamlessly scan any thick or irregular object and transfer your desired design precisely.
Wide Range of Connectivity: The Canon PIXMA offers paramount connectivity options, which include basic WiFi and Ethernet. Additionally, users can also opt for mobile printing through AirPrint, Mopria Print Service, and Canon Print application.
Incomprehensible Display Panel: The display panel should have been backlit to avoid errors when adjusting print settings. However, this issue only arises in dark environments. The display panel is perfectly readable if you have enough light in the background.
Slow Speed: Canon PIXMA takes some time to print; the speed is relatively slower than others in the league. But this may work fine for users who want to use Canon PIXMA just as a part of their hobby.
Epson Vs. HP Vs. Canon — Which One is Most Promising?
The main differences between Epson, HP, and Canon lie between the print quality and features they offer.
If you need a printer supported by innovative technology and ease of use, then HP printers would be the best pick. Although the ink expenses are higher, such printers offer some of the best sublimation features, making your investment worth it. The price factor of Canon and HP are almost similar, but the former’s sublimation speed is slightly slower. But it would be the wise pick if you’re someone with minimum printing needs.
On the other hand, Epson is known for producing prints with superior color accuracy, providing an edge for printing high-quality designs onto shirts. The best part is that you can get the Epson EcoTank series at highly reasonable rates. While the WorkForce series is slightly costly, it can be a perfect pick for hobbyists intending to launch a shirt printing business.
Factors to Consider Before Buying Sublimation Printer for Shirts
Before buying a sublimation printer, you must consider a few essential factors to grab the best deal. These include:
It is crucial to ensure the cartridge in your chosen printer is durable enough to endure prolonged usage. In addition, there should be no compromise on its output quality, as you need prints with vibrant colors and sharp details to transform plain shirts into a piece of art.
If you intend to turn your shirt printing hobby into a part-time business, then considering the ink cartridge’s capacity is also essential. You need to pick the one with a higher ink-holding capacity that can easily print a handful of shirts in a single refill.
Ease of Use
Another factor that you must consider, especially as a beginner, is the sublimation printer’s interface. It should be easy to use with no complex installation requirements. Moreover, an instruction manual in layman’s language is also a plus point.
Some brands like HP even incorporate mobile phone applications, having detailed walkthroughs for setting up and using the printer.
Considering the connectivity of sublimation printers, you have various options to choose from, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB, Ethernet, etc.
Although it is impossible to find a printer with all these options, you should still aim for the one that offers most of them. Especially the wireless ones for effortless and quick printing.
The printing speed of sublimation printers typically varies between 8 to 15 PPM. Hence, selecting the one according to your needs is important. Otherwise, the printing process will get time-consuming.
For example, if you want to print large designs, you must pick a printer with higher speeds. Contrarily, a printer with lower speeds can work if you plan to impress people with tiny patterns on the shirts.
The internet is jam-packed with reviews and recommendations about the best sublimation printer for shirts. I have researched thoroughly to extract the top 4 sublimation printers that can effectively fulfill all your shirt printing needs.
The Epson WorkForce series can be ideal for achieving high-quality and quick results, especially if you don’t have any budget constraints. Comparatively, the HP Envy printer is more reasonable from the price point of view.
But the Epson EcoTank gets a slight edge as it offers a similar range of features, with huge savings on ink expenses being a plus point. Even Canon printers can work for hobbyists on a budget, but they may have to compromise on speed.
To conclude, if I had to buy one of the above-listed printers, my ultimate pick would be the Epson EcoTank ET-2760. It is budget-friendly, produces high-quality prints, and above all, cuts down the additional ink costs.
Is it possible to make sublimation shirts with a regular printer?
Yes, it is possible to use regular printers like inkjet or laser to sublimate creative designs on shirts. However, for that, you will need a special type of paper known as a sublimation paper. Once your desired pattern is printed on the paper, you can then apply it to the fabric using a heat press or an iron.
What size of sublimation printer is required for shirts?
The printer’s size depends upon the dimensions of the design you want to print. For example, a printer that can print over an area of up to 8 ½ x 4 inches can be sufficient for small designs. However, if you want to sublimate sizeable patterns, larger format printers are available that can print up to 13 x 19 or 24 inches wide.
Which shirt material is best for sublimation printing?
The ideal fabric for sublimation printing on shirts must have 80% polyester, while 20% could be other material. It is important to achieve high-quality results, as polyester yarn lets the ink penetrate the fabric effectively. Moreover, the molecules of this material bind strongly with the ink, ensuring long-lasting designs with minimum chances of fading over time.
What additional equipment is required for sublimation printing on shirts?
Besides the best sublimation printer for shirts, you will need sublimation paper, inks, and blanks to print shirt designs. Moreover, design software is also required if you want to create printing patterns from scratch. Some additional accessories that you’ll need include:
- Heat press
- Adhesive spray
- Heat resistant gloves
- Butcher paper
- Heat tape