sublimation printer for beginners

Best Sublimation Printer for Beginners (Buying Guide)

There are two main types of printers we can choose from when we’re looking for the best sublimation printer for beginners.

Thus, before jumping to the actual reviews, we should actually talk about these main two types because it’s the most important thing to know about when looking for the best sublimation printers for beginners.

You can also learn more about this in my article answering the question: can you use any printer for sublimation?

Best Sublimation Printer for Beginners Reviews

Most buyers choose to buy piezo inkjet printers from Epson and convert them to sublimation by buying sublimation inks & paper to print on.

This option is certainly a lot more popular than buying dedicated dye-sublimation printers.

So these are the models that we’re going to focus on when looking for the best sublimation printer for beginners.

And we’ll have a wide array of prices to choose from. Even if you don’t have a budget of $500 or $1,000, you can find the perfect model for your projects and crafts.

Conversion has only one downside: it will void the warranty because the printers are not created to be used with sublimation dyes. Although, they can certainly be used beautifully.

Even small businesses as well as so many amateur crafters choose to buy Epson inkjet printers and then convert them by simply buying sublimation inks for their specific model.

Thus, make sure that you can actually buy inks for your specific Epson before buying the printer. That’s important to keep in mind.

You can watch this YouTube tutorial to see how to convert an inkjet printer to a sublimation printer.

I’ll also review dye-sublimation printers because I’m sure that some of you would prefer using a model that was created specifically for this wonderful purpose. However, I prefer the conversion route, like so many other users.

1. Epson EcoTank ET-4700: Overall the Best Sublimation Printer for Beginners

There are so many Epson piezo inkjet printers that we can convert to sublimation that it’s hard to focus on choosing just a few models to recommend.

A lot of them are so popular for sublimation work and people love them.

Amateurs and some business owners alike love converting inkjet printers to sublimation because they work just so well, especially a large majority of models from Epson.

A very important reason for choosing to recommend the EcoTank ET-4700 as one of my top favorites, besides its high popularity, is the price.

With a selling price around $300, this is one of the most affordable printers we can use for our crafts and projects. It’s excellent.

While it has received a significant number of negative reviews, the Epson EcoTank ET-4700 is still one of the highest rated models at the moment. There are many other models that have a higher number of negative reviews so that’s another aspect to keep in mind.

8.5 inches max print size

If there is one thing that some people might have a problem with that is the max sheet size of 8.5 x 14 inches.

Obviously, maybe some large businesses wouldn’t find that satisfactory.

However, amateur crafters might not have the same needs and expectations.

People who have bought the Epson EcoTank ET-4700 to use it for sublimation absolutely love it.

I saw a picture of some earrings made with sublimation with the help of the ET-4700 and the quality is totally fantastic.

Users who use it for sublimation mention that this is one of the most amazing printers they have used for sublimation.

Obviously, if that is your purpose, don’t put in the ink that comes with this printer. Those are meant for normal printing.

You need to buy sublimation ink separately so don’t mix the two. Next, you need sublimation paper and voila, you’ve converted the Epson EcoTank ET-4700. However, keep in mind that this conversion will void the warranty so that’s the risk we have to take.

Obviously, we need to buy the sublimation ink and paper separately because the ET-4700 is an inkjet model.

Only dye-simulation printers will come with 4 bottles of ink to get you started.

All in all, the important aspect is that even complete beginners who have bought the EcoTank ET-4700 as their first printer to use for sublimation have found the process easy, enjoyable and fun.

And if you are not sure about how to approach anything, there’s always YouTube. You’ll find guides and tutorials for everything, including this specific Epson.


The EcoTank ET-4700 is a wireless, cartridge-free model with easy-to-fill supersized ink tanks.

I love that we get to fill in tanks with sublimation die, I think they’re so much easier to fill in.

With this model we get a set of 4 ink bottles for regular printing that can print up to 4,500 pages.

However, don’t add those to the tanks because we actually need to buy sublimation ink for the ET-4700. That also includes buying 4 ink bottles.

The colors for the dye are black, yellow, magenta, and cyan. That’s all we need. Plus buying sublimation paper to match the tray on this model. Some people use syringes to put the ink in.

Nowadays,  with those easy to fill big ink tanks and the ink bottles that are manufactured specifically for filling these tanks, that’s no longer necessary.

Another thing to be content with is the 5760 x 1440 maximum print resolution. That’s very high.
Obviously, it’s compatible with Mac and Windows.

You’ll also have to use graphic design software and apps for the best printing results. Canva and GIMP can be used for free. But you can also use Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Gravit, Affinity, and Sawgrass Creative Studio. There’s a lot to choose from.

The only con I should mention is that the ET-4700 uses ink pads instead of a tank to collect waste ink. There are YouTube tutorials on how to replace the ink pads and reset the printer.

2. Epson EcoTank ET-2803: Cheap Sublimation Printer for Beginners

The main reason for considering this one as one of the best sublimation printers for beginners is the cheap price.

If you are lucky and get it on sale, it can cost around $200. If you find it in this price range, it’s totally worth it, especially if you’re just wanting to see if sublimation is a craft you might be enjoying long term. That’s what makes it so great for beginners. I like it a lot.

I also recommended it as one of my top picks for the best Epson sublimation printer.

8.5 inches max print size

It’s another small, compact model that only prints up to 8.5 x 14 inches paper sheets.

However, whenever you see a printer sold for a price around $300, then that’s what you should automatically assume.

Those that are larger, 13 x 19 printers will cost $500 or more. There’s definitely a considerable price difference between the two sizes.

It requires the traditional 4 CMYK bottles of ink.

The difference is that we must buy the 4 bottles of sublimation ink for the EcoTank ET-2803 or the EcoTank ET-2800.

The 4 bottles will have the following colors: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black.

Don’t use the ink bottles that come with the Epson EcoTank ET-2803 because those are used for normal printing. We absolutely need to fill in the ink tanks with our special dye that is needed for our projects.

I love that we get refillable ink tanks and not cartridges. They’re much easier to use.

All in all, the Epson EcoTank ET-2803 is one of the best sublimation printers for beginners with a lower budegt.

3. Epson EcoTank ET-15000: Best WideFormat Sublimation Printer for Beginners

Besides the considerably expensive price, around $700, there are some other important features that make the EcoTank ET-15000 stand out.

It’s another piezo inkjet printer that can be converted.

And it’s absolutely one of the best sublimation printers for beginners who are looking for a bigger model that offers more possibilities.

13 x 19 max print size

If you’re looking for one of the best 13 x 19 sublimation printers, the EcoTank ET-15000 might sound more than a bit intriguing.

Unlike the other two models that I reviewed above, this ET-15000 allows us to print on considerably larger sheets of paper. That will be a big plus for some potential buyers and it might justify the considerably higher price.

A lot of buyers who use the EcoTank ET-15000 for sublimation call it one of the best printers for their craft. It’s a fantastic piece of equipment, whether you’re an amateur or you’re looking to set up a small business.

The interesting thing is that this Epson is in the same price range as the Sawgrass SG500.

However, I prefer this Epson even if it needs a conversion than the Sawgrass SG500, which is a dye-sublimation model.

The thing is that this Epson FT-15000 is really good, even if it’s a bit pricey.

It prints vivid color images. And it’s capable of rendering whatever bright colors in whatever images we desire on T-shirts, mugs, mouse pads, polyester materials, and on so many other objects.

It’s also easy to operate, otherwise I wouldn’t recommend it for beginners.


Instead of getting ink pads to collect the ink, the more expensive Epson EcoTank ET-15000 uses a tank, which is also called a maintenance box.

You can find a YouTube video on how to reset the end of life maintenance box.

It’s quite an easy process and it’s the perfect solution for those who want to sublimate often without any worries and any maintenance troubles. It’s definitely suitable for small businesses.

Of course, it’s Windows and Mac compatible. And it’s very easy to use.

All in all, it’s the perfect model for people with a more generous budget who want a bigger 13 x 19 sublimation printer that makes beautiful prints that transfer perfectly. That’s exactly what we want and we do get it.

4. Sawgrass SG500: One of the Best Sublimation Printers for Beginners

In a user review for the Sawgrass SG500 someone mentions that they tried converting an Epson printer but the messy ink transferring and the dull printing made the experience awful and a waste of money.

On the other hand, the Sawgrass SG500 is lauded as having high quality printing and a definite ease of use.

It’s definitely a worthy model of being considered the best sublimation printer for beginners.

I always say that it’s not exactly my favorite but that’s only because the price, somewhere around $700-$800, is absolutely not the cheapest.

8.5 max print size

Given the price, I guess we all expected for this model to have a 8.5 max print size. It prints on media up to 8.5 x 14 inches (22 x 36 cm).

However, if you are only looking for a dedicated sublimation printer with the same 8.5 max print size but with a more affordable price tag, I recommend first checking out the Epson SureColor F170, if you can find it where you live.


What I have to mention first is the 4880 x 1200 dpi resolution. This is the main selling point for the SG500.

If you have the budget for it, you’ll be able to enjoy one of the highest resolutions among dye-sublimation printers.

The SG500 and SG1000 are described as the next generation of Sawgrasss. They’re also eco-friendly, more energy-efficient so I guess that’s nice.

They offer WiFi connectivity and higher resolution.

The SG500 performs its own automatic maintenance cycle for trouble-free printing.

The nice thing is that these new Sawgrass models come with CreativeStudio design software, Sawgrass Print Manager, educational resources. Sawgrass includes all these extra features for their predecessors, as well.

We’re also informed that the new SubliJet HD Ultra High-Definition inks have been optimized both for the SG500 and the SG1000 to create a vibrant, true-to-life output.

However, the price of the Sawgrass SubliJet HD Ultra High-Definition inks makes me stay away from Sawgrass even more. It’s certainly maybe 10 times cheaper to buy sublimation dyes for Epson models, even if we have to do the conversion.

Of course, when we buy either the SG500 or the SG1000, we get the SubliJet UHD Sublimation Inks so that will last us quite a while to get use started.

What I’m trying to say is that you should also check out the easy availability of inks and their prices for the printers you consider before making your final purchase.

All in all, Sawgrass might not be my favorite brand because I prefer to convert inkjet printers to sublimation for cheaper prices but it might be yours if you easily have the money for it. It’s certainly good.

5. Sawgrass SG1000

The SG1000 stands out immediately for one important reason: it’s the most expensive model among my recommendations for the best sublimation printer for beginners.

Is it worth the price, close to $2,000? That’s up to you to decide.

It can be worth it if you want a dye-sublimation printer and you don’t want to buy an Epson for conversion. Still, I don’t know how many beginners would spend so much money on their first printer.

11 x 17 max print size

I guess it’s a bit surprising to come across a sublimation printer that prints on media up to 11 x 17 inches (28 x 43 cm).

I would have expected to come across a maybe 13 x 19 because it’s certainly more prevalent than the 11 x 17 max print size.

Also, for the price, I certainly would have expected a bigger max print size.

For example, while the Epson SureColor F570 is considerably more expensive, at least it offers a 24 inch max print size. If you have a very generous budget, the Epson SureColor F570 sounds like the better choice for starting a business.

I guess we can say that there is one upside about the Sawgrass SG1000. It is backwards-compatible with SG800 accessories. But that only applies to those who already owned the SG800 so it’s certainly not something that beginners will be familiar with.

The bypass tray for the SG800 allows us to print on media up to 13 x 51 inches.

At this point, it’s just easier to consider converting the Epson EcoTank ET-15000 or the Epson WorkForce WF-7720, which are wide-format 13 x 19 printers.


We get WiFi connectivity, higher resolution than older Sawgrass models, and CreativeStudio design software, Sawgrass Print Manager, educational resources integrated.

The SG1000 performs its own automatic maintenance cycle for trouble-free printing.

6. Epson SureColor F170

The problem with the SureColor F170 is not that it’s not fantastic. Because it truly is one of the best. And it’s really popular among a lot of users and buyers.

However, it’s pretty hard to find around the globe, which is a true pity. I just wish it would be more readily available for purchase because it’s certainly a top favorite of mine.

Especially when we consider the affordable price around $450. Of course, the price can vary.

Even so, it’s one of the cheapest dye-sublimation printers at the moment.

The Epson SureColor F170 is especially awesome for beginners.

However, if you want a cheaper option, I recommend the EcoTank ET-2803 or the EcoTank ET-2850,. Even if they are piezo inkjet printers that need to be converted to sublimation. But we only have to buy sublimation dyes to achieve that. And, of course, we need sublimation paper.

If your heart is set on the Epson SureColor F170, I recommend buying it from the manufacturer’s website. It’s certainly the best option.

8.5 inch max print size

Let’s first talk about the fact that we get a max print size of 8.5 inches, up to A4 paper size.

That’s one of the main features to think about.

For example, I’m sure that there might be some people who will find the max print size to be too small for their designs.

The max paper size we can use is 8.5 x 47.2 inches

The max print resolution is 1200 x 600 dpi, which is really amazing for most of us. But others will regard it as a limited print resolution. It always depends on our needs and expectations.

We can input up to 150 sheets.

The ink palette is composed of 4 colors: C, M, Y, K.

We get 748 noozles: 400 nozzles black, 128 nozzles x cyan, magenta, and yellow.

Each cartridge, in total 4, has a 140 mL fill volume.

The ink cartridge shelf life is 2 years from printed production date or 6 months after opened.

Those who have used any printer of any kind are already accustomed to the fact that cartridges expire.


Of course, this model arrives with genuine Epsone dye-sublimation ink technology and Mac and Windows print software. These are to be expected.

It comes equipped with streamlined print software optimized for dye-sublimation.

The SureColor F170 is expected to deliver extraordinary color saturation and high color contrast. We can achieve that even with converted inkjet printers to sublimation, especially if we use graphic design programs.

No matter which model you end up buying as the best sublimation printer for beginners, I absolutely recommend using graphic design software and apps for the best printing results.

You can use GIMP, Adobe Photoshop, Canva, CoreIDRAW, Adobe Illustrator, Gravit, Affinity, and Sawgrass Creative Studio.

The SureColor F170 is a compact design but I see it as a more appropriate choice for amateurs.

Although, I might be wrong and maybe some businesses would benefit from a compact sublimation printer, too.

We can connect it via USB, Ethernet or wireless.

As an alternative for smaller and medium businesses, we have the Epson SureColor F570 with a price starting at $2,500 and with a 24 inch max print as one of its top selling points.

7. Epson WorkForce WF-7720

While the Sawgrass SG1000 is certainly my most expensive recommendation for the best sublimation printer for beginners, this WorkForce WF-7720 is not all that far behind.

With a price around $1,300 I’m not entirely sure that many beginners or complete amateurs will consider it a viable option.

Still, I like to present several options and then you can make your choice based on your budget.

It can’t be denied that the Epson WorkForce WF-7720 is quite popular among people who only bought it with the intention to convert it for sublimation. And that’s why I wanted to review it, as well.

13 x 19 max print size

We once again get a 13 x 19 size, like it was the case with the Epson EcoTank ET-15000. The difference is that the WorkForce WF-7720 is two times more expensive.

There is a user review from a complete newbie to sublimation and they were very impressed with the WorkForce WF-7720.

And with the fact that we can print on paper that is 13 inches wide. Indeed, that’s a major selling point for this model.

However, I guess I prefer the EcoTank ET-15000 a lot more because we get the same 13 x 19 max print size but for a much cheaper price.

Of course, the Epson WorkForce WF-7720 is still absolutely popular and it’s certainly amazing for sublimating on t-shirts so I definitely had to review it.

It will even work for small to medium businesses. I love it and it’s an exceptional model if you’re willing to spend that much on a model.

Best Sublimation Printer for Beginners: Dedicated Printer or Conversion?

Let’s actually see why most people actually prefer buying an Epson printer and then convert it to sublimation.

Some of the reasons might be that piezo inkjet printers that can be converted are more easy to find, easy to use even for complete beginners, they work just as beautifully as dedicated sublimation models, and a large majority of them are significantly cheaper.

Dye-sublimation printers

Firstly, we have the option to buy a dedicated sublimation printer that is created specifically for this craft.

Epson has two fantastic models, one especially suited for more moderate budgets.

That’s the Epson SureColor F170. It’s absolutely one of the best sublimation printers for beginners but it also requires a budget around $400. Still, if you want a dye-sublimation model that is also one of the cheapest, your best option is the SureColor F170.

Next, we have the Sawgrass SG500, which is close in price to the Epson SureColor F170, a couple hundred more expensive, and it’s quite decent.

From the same brand we also get the Sawgrass SG1000 for a bigger format and a really expensive price close to $2,000. I don’t know how many beginners are willing to spend so much money on their first purchase.

Also, the inks from Sawgrass are quite pricey. That’s another aspect to keep in mind when you’re looking for the best sublimation printer for beginners.

Piezo inkjet printers conversion to sublimation

However, where things get amazingly interesting is when we want to choose the best sublimation printer for beginners from piezo inkjet printers that can be converted to sublimation.

These models that can easily undergo conversion are also made by Epson and we get a lot of them to choose from. Most of them are also incredibly affordable when we compare them to dye-sublimation printers, prices starting around $200.

These Epson printers are: EcoTank ET-2803, EcoTank ET-2850, EcoTank ET-15000, EcoTank ET-2720, EcoTank Photo ET-8500, EcoTank Photo ET-8550, Epson WorkForce WF-7720.

The conversion is easy to make.

You just have to buy sublimation dye for that specific model and that’s it. But the moment you do that, the warranty is void, that’s the con.

And you need sublimation paper to print on so that we can create your designs and images on T-shirts, ceramic mugs, mylar bags, MDF coasters, ceramic tiles, glass sheets, aluminum sheets, polyester bags, aprons, cushion covers & mouse mats.

Of course, we absolutely need a heat press to transfer our designs from the paper onto the substrates.

All in all, whichever model you end up choosing as the best sublimation printer for beginners, I hope you’ll be able to create the most beautiful projects.