sublimation on t-shirt

Best Sublimation Printer for T-Shirts (Buying Guide)

There are certainly more than a couple of things you must take into account when you’re looking for the best sublimation printer for t-shirts.

One important thing to decide is whether you want a dedicated sublimation printer or if you would be fine with converting a piezo inkjet printer, mostly from Epson, to sublimation.

A dedicated sublimation printer offers certain advantages. For example, the models from Sawgrass offer amazing resolution, we can definitely create vibrant, life-like designs.

But the same can be also true for some of the inkjet printers that can be converted to sublimation that I will review in this article.

Another thing to decide on is whether you are satisfied with an 8.5 max print size (max sheet size of 8.5 x 14 inches) or if you want to create significantly larger designs on large or even bigger t-shirts. That’s one of the most important features to decide on.

Last but not least, there’s the matter of deciding on a budget. We can buy inkjet printers for anywhere between $200-$600 for some really amazing models.

On the other hand, dedicated sublimation models tend to cost considerably more. The most affordable of them is the Epson SureColor F170, followed by the Sawgrass SG500. Both models cost under $1,000 but there are certainly a lot of other options that exceed that budget by a lot more.

I will dive more deeply into discussing each factor while offering my reviews for the best sublimations printers for T-shirts.

Best Sublimation Printer for T-Shirts Reviews

I also wrote an article reviewing the best sublimation printers for beginners. You can also check that one out if you feel that none of the models you come across here are exactly what you’re looking for.

Plus, if you want to understand whether you should convert an inkjet printer to sublimation or whether you should buy a dye-sublimation model, check out my guide answering the question: can you use any printer for sublimation?

1. Epson EcoTank ET-4700: Best Small Sublimation Printer for T-Shirts

If you are totally okay with a printer that has an 8.5 max print size, then the EcoTank ET-4700 would be my first recommendation to check out.

Also, if your budget is around $300, you’ll definitely want to know more about the EcoTank ET-4700.

For those looking for something considerably bigger, with slightly more versatility, I recommend checking out the Epson EcoTank ET-15000 that I review just below.

They’re both some of the Epson sublimation printers.

Converting an inkjet printer to sublimation

They’re both amazingly popular among buyers who want to convert them to sublimation.

Indeed, my first two recommendations are piezo inkjet printers that need to be converted to sublimation. They’re not created for this purpose but sublimation inks will make them work beautifully.

Still, you should be completely aware that using sublimation inks in an inkjet printer will void the warranty since it wasn’t created for this purpose.

If you are only interested in dedicated sublimation printers, I recommend the two models from Sawgrass, the Epson SureColor F170, and the Epson SureColor F570. Or the beast that is the HP Stitch S500 64” Dye-Sublimation Printer, which can only work as a choice for businesses who can easily spend $25,000 on one.

If you decided that you’re definitely fine with the conversion option, which is incredibly popular among a wide variety of buyers, including some business owners, then you won’t have to do much.

Sublimation supplies

You need to buy sublimation inks for the Epson model that you prefer. All inks mention compatibility.

You will get 4 bottles: cyan, yellow, magenta, and black. Most printers, both inkjet and sublimation, only work with these four ink plates. It’s called the CMYK model.

And that’s also the reason why we sublimate on white or lighter color t-shirts. Polyester is the material you want, not cotton.

Don’t use the printer ink that comes with your Epson because that’s for normal printing. Instead use the sublimation ink that you purchased separately and don’t mix the two. That’s the most important thing to keep in mind first.

Thankfully, the EcoTank ET-4700 comes with easy-to-fill supersized ink tanks so refilling them is quite simple.

Of course, you also need sublimation paper, the right size for your printer. For example, the Epson EcoTank ET-4700 requires a max sheet size of 8.5 x 14 inches.

Plus, you need to purchase a heat press separately to transfer the design from the paper onto the shirt.

Sublimate on polyester t-shirts

Normally, we need at least 65% polyester content to sublimate onto to get the best designs. And we sublimate on white or lighter t-shirts to get vibrant designs.

I prefer a 70% polyester content for my T-shirts that I want to personalize via sublimation.

Plus, the shirts must be white or very light in color.

If you’re interested in personalizing dark T-shirts, check out my reviews for the best sublimation paper for dark shirts to see how it’s done.

Moreover, check out my recommendations for the best sublimation printer for heat transfer if you want to try another technique. Inkjet heat transfer is quite different from sublimation.

2. Epson EcoTank ET-15000: Overall the Best Sublimation Printer for T-Shirts

There are a lot of features that make the EcoTank ET-15000 one of my favorite picks when we talk about sublimation on many materials, surfaces, including T-shirts.

Of course, polyester t-shirts in white or lighter colors are the best medium for our designs.

The main feature is that this is a wide-format printer, meaning that it has a 13 x 19 max print size, which allows us to create bigger designs on large t-shirts or even on blankets if we want.

Another advantage is that the EcoTank ET-15000 is in the same price range as the Sawgrass SG500, while offering a bigger max print size.

However, if you want a dye-sublimation printer and you are totally satisfied with 8.5 max print size, you should check out the model from Sawgrass.

Should you get a 13 x 19 sublimation printer?

A 13 x 19 max print size is not always necessary when we’re looking for the best sublimation printer for T-shirts.

For example, if you don’t plan on doing a full design, whether front or back, then an 8.5 inch max print size can be big enough for all your projects on any t-shirt or any size.

On the other, if you want to do full front or back for t-shirts, then you’ll need a 13 x 19 model.

We must also take into account the size of the shirts we’ll be heat pressing our sublimation paper on.

While an adult small t-shirt can require a 10 x 12 print for a full front or back, the same media print sizes won’t be enough for larger shirt sizes.

You can check out this shirt size guide to see how many possibilities there are.

Thus, thinking about the size of the shirts you want to print images and designs on is very important when choosing the best sublimation printer for T-shirts.

It’s certainly clear that a 13 x 19 device confers a lot more versatility than a 8.5 printer does.

However, not everyone will benefit from that increased versatility of uses and creations. So it’s important to have an idea of what type of projects you want to undertake.

A 13 x 19 sublimation printer will also enable us to print posters, blankets, and other large-scale items.

Or you can print multiple smaller designs on the same sheet of sublimation paper and save time.

Then you only have to take care of heat pressing the design onto the desired materials.

All in all, the wide format and the affordable price are top reasons for considering the Epson EcoTank ET-15000 as one of the best.

3. Sawgrass SG500: One of the Best Dye-Sublimation Printers for T-Shirts

Another quite popular option, although maybe not as popular as many other Epson models, is the Sawgrass SG500.

Frankly, there’s no way we could be looking for the best sublimation printer for t-shirts without mentioning Sawgrass and its two newer models: the SG500 and the SG1000.

The new and improved versions, taking over the SG400 and the SG800, bring WiFi connectivity. And they’re described as being eco-friendly and more energy-efficient.

Plus, we get the promise of higher resolution, which is absolutely what interests us the most.


Let me tell you why I am not totally enamored with this model. I like it a whole lot but my preferred route is to convert an Epson inkjet printer. Even if it comes with the major con that it voids the warranty.

With Sawgrass, we get 2 years warranty for their models, which is definitely important, whether you’re an amateur or a potential business owner.

However, we can’t deny that the SG500 is not a cheap model, given its price around $600.

Moreover, we only get an 8.5 max print size.

Many people will decide which is the right model for them based on the max print size so it’s a feature that you should seriously consider.

Where it shines without any doubt is the 4880 x 1200 dpi resolution. That’s incredibly high.

And it goes a long way to justify the price of this latest dye-sublimation model from Sawgrass.

The ultra-fine printing capabilities thanks to that 4880 x 1200 dpi resolution are certainly not something we see every day.

If you want to achieve life-like images, the Sawgrass SG500 is the best sublimation printer for t-shirts, absolutely superior to the slightly cheaper Epson SureColor F170.

That high resolution just makes it so desirable.

Another thing that can justify the price is the fact that it comes with the Sawgrass SubliJet HD Ultra High-Definition inks. These inks are really expensive. They might last a year but you’ll still have to buy new ink at some point, which is going to be pricey.

And it comes with CreativeStudio design software, Sawgrass Print Manager, educational resources integrated.

The SG500 performs its own automatic maintenance cycle for trouble-free printing, which can be another attractive selling point for quite a lot of potential users.

4. Sawgrass SG1000

I don’t think we can review the Sawgrass SG500 without mentioning its much more expensive counterpart, the SG1000.

With a price around $1,600 it’s an expensive piece of equipment. Only you can know if it’s something you can afford or not.

An article looking for the best sublimation printer for t-shirts certainly deserves a quick comparison between the two Sawgrass models.

While I certainly prefer Epson over Sawgrass, I also can’t deny that some people will definitely see it the other way around.

My problem is not that Sawgrass doesn’t make amazing dye-sublimation printers because they certainly do. My problem is the pretty expensive price.

However, if you don’t want to make a piezo inkjet printer conversion to sublimation and you can’t find the Epson SureColor F170 or the Epson SureColor F570, then Sawgrass is the brand to consider if you only intend to buy a dedicated sublimation printer.


Besides the more than double price tag, the other important difference between the SG1000 and the cheaper SG500 is the max print size.

While the SG500 is as small as they come in the world of printers, the SG1000 is certainly slightly bigger.

It prints on media up to 11 x 17 inches (28 x 43 cm). So we get a 11 x 17 max print size. Usually, the transition is from an 8.5 inch to a 13 x 19 print size but Sawgrass decided to choose something smaller and create a tray for 11 x 17 inches.

Even so, the 11 x 17 inches max print size is more than enough for most shirt sizes. It’s plenty big.

The advantage is that if you’ve owned its predecessor, the SG800, its accessories are compatible with the new and improved SG1000.

Thus, you could be using the bypass tray from the SG800, which enables us to print on media up to 13 x 51 inches. I have no idea why they redesigned the size of the bypass tray but, for those who want to try the new and improved SG1000, moving up from the SG800, you should be aware that the accessories are a total fit on the newer version.

Other than that, we get the usual WiFi connectivity.

And it comes with CreativeStudio design software, Sawgrass Print Manager, educational resources integrated.

Plus, the very expensive Sawgrass SubliJet HD Ultra High-Definition inks are included. Before buying either the SG500 or the SG1000, just make sure that you can easily replace the inks, that they’re easily available where you live.

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

5. Epson SureColor F170

I wanted to review the Epson SureColor F170 higher because there are a lot of things to like about it

Among dedicated sublimation printers, meaning those that are actually specifically created for this craft, and don’t need to be converted, the SureColor F170 is among the most affordable we could ever buy.

With a price around $400, I don’t think we can find a more affordable model. Only conversion allows us to buy cheaper printers.


It’s a very small piece of equipment so I don’t know how many businesses would enjoy using the SureColor F170 as the best sublimation printer for T-shirts.

It can work for smaller designs but it won’t allow you a lot of versatility in your creations and designs. But that’s the downside that comes with buying cheaper models.

Another thing that makes us understand why the Epson SureColor F170 is so affordable is the max print resolution.

The max print resolution is 1200 x 600 dpi.

It’s certainly very good but it certainly doesn’t compare to the 4880 x 1200 dpi resolution that the Sawgrass SG500 is capable of.

And now we totally understand why the SureColor F170 is sold for that lower price as compared to other competitors in the industry.

6. Epson EcoTank ET-2803: Cheap Sublimation Printer for T-Shirts

This is pretty much the cheapest option when it comes to recommending the best sublimation printer for t-shirts.

It’s totally worth it if you get it on sale for a price around $200. It really doesn’t get more affordable than that if we also want some quality and ease of use.

I would say that it can be perfect for those who are just getting started, for people who are testing out the waters in this new, beautiful, creative craft.

You’ll have to buy sublimation ink compatible with the EcoTank ET-2803 and sublimation paper to match the 8.5 max print size.

Don’t use the ink that comes with it, fill-in the tanks with the special sublimation dye you have to buy for it.

Of course, the 8.5 max print size is to be expected for such an inexpensive model but it’s still quite for a wide array of projects.

7. Epson WorkForce WF-7720

Since we reviewed quite a few 8.5 sublimation printers and only one 13 x 19, which is the Epson EcoTank ET-15000, I thought it would be high time to review another popular 13 x 19 sublimation printer.

However, the major difference between the WorkForce WF-7720 and the EcoTank ET-15000 is that this WF-7720 is two times more expensive. Now you can understand why I preferred to recommend the EcoTank ET-15000 among my favorites.


The WorkForce WF-7720 is certainly expensive but it also has a lot of attractive features.

It’s kind of a beast and I’m pretty sure that quite a few business owners would be excited to use it.

It’s very popular and it has received high praises from people who have bought it to convert it to sublimation.

Besides the wide format, it’s also very easy to use.

A buyer who was completely new to the world of sublimation mentioned they were ecstatic with how the WorkForce WF-7720 performed.

The borderless feature is another reason why some buyers love it.

It holds 100 sheets of sublimation paper just fine and the ink tanks work perfectly.

All in all, the Epson WorkForce WF-7720 is not cheap but it has a lot of things going for it and crafters love it.

8. Epson SureColor F570

This is a serious option for businesses with a bit of capital. I’m not sure how many amateur crafters would be interested in what the SureColor F570 has to offer but there are going to be some business owners who might be tempted by it.

You can find it for prices around $2,500 or higher so it’s pricey. It’s not easily available around the world, which is a total pity.


The absolute main thing that stands out about the Epson SureColor F570 is the 24 max print size.

It’s a flexible printer that offers a wide array of printing media options.

It supports rolls from 8.3” to 24.4” on 2” core or sheets from 8.3 x 11 to 11 x 17 inches.

Besides the massive printing options we have available, there’s another top feature that makes the SureColor F570 so fantastic.

It has a max print resolution of 2,400 x 1200 dpi, which is downright impressive.

Even though it’s such a beast, it has a compact, clean design that is just a joy to look at and use.

If you run a small business, the ultra small, sleek, minimal design will easily fit on a stand or a desktop or a small table.

Of course, it comes equipped with software optimized for dye-sublimation, with specialized drivers for Mac and Windows.

The large 4.3 LCD touchscreen is also a great addition for ease of use.

9. HP Stitch S500 64” Dye-Sublimation Printer

The HP Stitch is one of the most expensive models that any one of us could buy, with a price between $20,000-$25,000. It’s a model for serious businesses, it’s certainly not something that a beginner or amateur crafter could even imagine buying.


Even if we have no intention of acquiring the HP Stitch S500 64” Dye-Sublimation Printer, that doesn’t mean that we can’t still be curious about what such an expensive piece of equipment has to offer.

As its name recommends, the first thing we’ll notice is the 64 inch max print size. It’s certainly designed for massive businesses.

The truly impressive aspect about it is that we can print on both transfer paper and direct-to-fabric. That certainly exceeds what we expect from the world of sublimation printers. It’s certainly an appropriate device for those who dream of creating their own fashion lines.

Buyers will also have access to HP Smart Color. All in all, this HP is the intelligent approach to the world of sublimation, going beyond what most of us might expect.

If this is the kind of model you’re looking for as the best sublimation printer for t-shirts, you’ll have to buy it from their website.