Dye sublimation printers come in a broad range of designs that are suitable for many different types of needs. Some are intended for basic photo printing while others can be used to create heat transfers for custom apparel. When shopping for one, there is a wide range of factors to consider the type of projects you will be working on and issues like device compatibility. In our article, we’re going to be covering nine of the best sublimation printer picks available and offer a buying guide to help you make the best purchasing decision.
Best Sublimation Printer Comparison Table
|Product||Photo||Type||Card Size (inches)||Check Price|
|Canon Selphy CP1200||Home use||2.1 x 3.4|
3.9 x 5.8
3.5 x 4.7
2.0 x 2.0
|Mitsubishi CP-K60DW-S||Commercial||4 x 6|
6 x 8
|DNP Event Photo Printer||Commercial||2 x 6|
4 x 6
5 x 7
6 x 8
|Kodak Mini||Portable||2.1 x 3.4|
|Kodak Dock||Home use||4 x 6|
|DNP DS40||Commercial||3.5 x 5|
4 x 6
5 x 7
6 x 8
6 x 9
|Polaroid Zip||Portable||2.9 x 4.7|
|Lifeprint||Portable||2 x 3|
|Kodak Mini Shot||Portable||2.1 x 3.4|
Best Sublimation Printer Reviews
If you are still unsure about which product may be right for you after looking at the comparison table above, read on to find the best sublimation printer right for you.
Canon Selphy CP1200 – Best Sublimation Printer For Beginners
Being AirPrint enabled, the Canon Selphy CP1200 model is an excellent product to consider that is suitable for beginners and Mac enthusiasts. It also features a dedicated Wi-Fi button to quickly and easily connect to your home network.
In addition to its various wireless connection options, this product can also be operated via a separate battery pack for use while traveling. We love the high-quality prints that this unit products. Each print is sealed with a special clear coat finish that helps protect it from dirt, dust, and even water.
Though we do love the beautiful prints that this product produces, we do see one slight drawback that you should consider. The largest ink and paper kits available for this unit can only produce up to 54 prints. This makes this unit a poor choice for larger-scale printing needs.
Mitsubishi CP-K60DW-S – Best Energy Efficient Sublimation Printer
With 96 percent less standby energy use, this product is an ideal pick for consumers who are environmentally conscious. This particular unit also comes with additional parts that simplify installation like cable ties and mounting screws.
Besides the energy efficient design of this product, it also has one of the highest resolution capabilities of any printer on our list at 300 DPI. It also supports two different print formats using one media source to simplify operation. In addition, this particular option is able to churn out prints at a respectable rate.
With all the positives associated with this product, we do have one slight issue. This particular model is somewhat bulky and heavy. The unit weighs in at just over 30 pounds making it one of the heavier options on our list.
DNP Event Photo Printer – Best Dye Sublimation Printer For Photo Booths
Thanks to its renovated compact design, this product is one of the best choices for use in commercial applications like photo booths. In addition to its small design, it also supports an impressive variety of print output sizes to choose from.
Besides its compact design and variety of print sizes, we also like the fact that this product has a large print capacity. Using the 4 by 6 size, this printer holds enough paper for approximately 700 prints. This greatly reduces the need to restock photo booth machines and simplifies operation.
Though there is a lot to love about this particular model, it does have one drawback you should consider. It lacks a display that tells you the amount of paper remaining. This adds unnecessary time when maintaining multiple machines.
Kodak Mini – Best Cheap Sublimation Printer
For those of you who are concerned about cost, the Kodak Mini is a very affordable option that is worth checking out. Besides its affordable design, it has many other features that make it an excellent choice to consider.
With its unique Easy Print technology, this product is extremely easy to operate and doesn’t require any cables. You can print directly from compatible smartphones and tablets by using the relevant app for your given device type. The prints dry instantly and stay bright for up to ten years when stored correctly.
While we do love many of the features associated with this product, we did find one drawback that you should take into account before purchasing. This option is designed for smaller printing needs with a maximum cartridge size of only 51 prints.
Kodak Dock – Best Compact Dye Sublimation Printer
For people who prefer using their smartphones to take pictures, the Kodal Dock is another excellent option that is worth checking out. This product has a unique Android docking pin and comes with a Lightning adapter for use on most standard iPhones.
In addition to its easy connectivity with a wide range of mobile devices, this printer also has a USB slot for use with thumb drives as well. This greatly reduces the need for cables and also charges your favorite devices while connected.
Though the Kodak Dock does have a lot to love, we did have one slight issue with the device that is worth mentioning. The biggest issue we found is the lack of printing size options with the only current supported media size being 4 by 6.
DNP DS40 – Best Sublimation Printer For Small Business
With a powerful printing engine that is designed to maximize image quality, the DNP DS40 is an excellent choice for larger businesses and other commercial applications. In addition, this printer incorporates a unique design that protects the paper from dust exposure and other contaminants.
Thanks to the powerful printing engine in this design, this printer is one of the fastest options available on our list that’s capable of printing a 4 by 6 print in as little as 8.7 seconds. Furthermore, the photos are finished with a special lamination layer that provides additional protection from harmful environmental factors.
Though there is a lot to love about this particular model, there is one drawback to this particular model. Unlike many other printers on our list, this option does not come with the starting paper necessary to begin printing and must be bought separately.
Polaroid Zip – Best Portable Dye Sublimation Printer
For printing while on the go, the Polaroid Zip is an excellent option worth checking out for yourself. Using unique ZINK technology, this portable printer requires no ink to create beautifully detailed pictures that match real life as much as possible.
Besides producing high-quality prints, this product is very easy to use. It connects to most smartphones and tablets via NFC technology or Bluetooth pairing. This helps to simplify photo sharing and the compact design of this model makes it a perfect option for travel use. In addition, the backs of the finished prints have a sticky layer that can be peeled off to create your own unique sticker designs.
With all of the positive things we love about this particular model, the biggest issue we found is the lack of media size choices. This model is only capable of printing in small 2 by 3 sizes.
Lifeprint – Best Sublimation Printer For Social Media Use
For people who love social media, Lifeprint is another viable printer that is worth checking out. It uses augmented reality to bring your finished prints to life when viewed from a compatible smartphone camera using the Hyperphoto app.
In addition to its unique augmented reality feature, this product can connect directly to all your other Lifeprint friends to easily share photos and videos with each other. You can also print directly from a wide variety of social media sources like Instagram and Snap.
Though we do love the unique augmented reality feature of this product, the lack of print size options is somewhat disappointing. Currently, you can only print photos that are 2 by 3. This is a bit on the small side for larger photograph projects.
Kodak Mini Shot – Best Dye Sublimation Printer and Camera in One
For those of you searching for a portable camera and printer in one, the Kodak Mini Shot is an excellent choice to consider. The camera portion is extremely easy to operate and features a simple push-button layout located on the bottom right-hand corner of the camera.
In addition to its simple layout, this camera and printer combination has a bright display for viewing your pictures comfortably. The device also supports a wide variety of customization options including gamma and exposure adjustments.
While there is a lot we do like about this device, it does have one slight drawback that you should consider. Our biggest issue with it is the relatively underpowered 10-megapixel sensor in the camera.
Sawgrass Virtuoso SG400 – Best Dye Sublimation Printer For Beginners
For hard surfaces like mugs, the Sawgrass Virtuoso SG400 model is an excellent choice to consider. Each package contains 110 sublimation transfer pages as well as HD quality ink that is ideal for most transfer needs.
In addition to the wide range of starting materials this printer includes, it’s also backed by a one-year warranty from the manufacturer as well. This includes technical support access for common problems like jams and clogged cartridges. The level of support makes this an excellent choice for both new and experienced printing professionals.
Though we do love that this model comes with plenty of starting transfer pages and high-quality ink, we did find one slight issue you should consider. Compared to other models, this model is quite a bit more expensive than other available models.
As long as you’re okay paying a bit more for this printer, it may be an excellent choice for you. It comes with more than enough starting paper for basic printing jobs and produces prints in high levels of detail. It also is backed by an impressive warranty period and comes with free technical support as well.
Sawgrass Virtuoso SG800 – Best Dye Sub Printer For Mugs
When making prints for transferring to mugs, the Sawgrass Virtuoso SG800 model is likely your best choice. This model includes access to their collaborative design studio which includes a wide variety of free stock images to use.
Besides the useful software, we love how simple this printer is to use and operate. Each package contains 100 sheets of special dye sublimation paper that is ideal for smaller scale projects. Additional supplies like ink and replacement paper can easily be found online as well.
While there is a lot to like about this particular model, we did find one problem that you should be aware of. For people who want to print t-shirts, you will have to stick with polyester materials. Cotton cloth takes a different type of printer with specialized ink cartridges.
As long as you understand what types of material this printer works with, it is an excellent choice to consider. It is very easy to use and includes free software to create your own unique designs. It’s also backed by a one-year warranty from the manufacturer and includes live support access.
Epson Artisan 1430 – Best Wide Format Printer for Dye Sublimation
Another popular inkjet printer that can be used for dye sublimation is the Epson Artisan 1430. In addition to its compact design, this printer is very user-friendly and supports wireless photo transmission.
For those of you who want to reduce the number of cords you use, this model may be an excellent choice to consider. It connects to your home wireless network for simple photo transmission using a wide variety of compatible devices. If you use dye sublimation ink and paper, it can also be used to print your favorite images in wide format as well.
With this model, we found a lot of features that make it a great choice for many consumers. However, we couldn’t get over the fact that this printer is a bit on the bulky side. Weighing in at over 35 pounds, this model is not very portable.
Despite the heavy weight, we can still recommend this product. It is very easy to use and connects with a wide range of devices via your home internet connection. In addition, it’s also a great choice for printing photos from home as well as dye sublimation projects using only one printer.
Epson C88+ – Best Dye Sublimation Printer For Home Use
For amateurs and home use, the Epson C88+ is an excellent choice that is worth checking out. Besides its compact design, we like that this model features ink cartridges that are very easy to change out.
Another great feature worth mentioning about this particular model is that it can be used to create heat transfers as well. These types of papers work best on ceramics and other high-heat material types. In addition, this model can also be used to create beautifully detailed full-color prints as well.
With all the positive features we found, we did find one slight negative element to consider first before purchasing. With this model, you cannot print using 11 by 17 transfer sheets. This limits the dye sublimation jobs to much smaller projects.
As long as you’re okay sticking with smaller dye sublimation projects, you will likely love this printer. It has a simple layout and the dye cartridges are very easy to take in and out. Furthermore, it’s also priced at a fair level that is suitable for hobbyist.
Epson Workforce 30 – Best Printer For Multiple Project Types
With the Epson Workforce 30 model, it’s an ideal choice for a wide range of project types. Traditionally an inkjet printer, it can be filled with special dye sublimation ink to create transfers from home.
When using the inkjet ink, this printer is very fast when compared to other similar printer types. It can print photos that are smudge and water-resistant in just a matter of minutes. When using it for dye sublimation, you can use it for t-shirt transfers and more. In addition, this printer is wireless compatible as well.
Though the flexibility offered by this printer is nice, users should be aware of one downside. When using it for dye sublimation use, you should be ready for a longer printing time than when you use the inkjet cartridges.
Yellow* With the slightly longer dye sublimation printing times in mind, we can still say that this is a great printer to check out. It has tons of useful features like wireless compatibility and built-in double-sided printing. In addition, it’s also one of the faster inkjet style printers that is currently available.
Sublimation Printer Buying Guide
What Is A Sublimation Printer?
A sublimation printer, also known as dye-sublimation, is a printer that uses heat to apply ink to various media types. The name of the printing process was initially created because it was thought that the heating stage caused the dyes to go straight to gas form without entering a liquid state. Since then, this has proven to not be the case and the name of the process is now known as dye diffusion. However, the original name of sublimation is still one of the most commonly used names for this printing process.
Sublimation vs Inkjet Printing
To understand how sublimation printers can beat many inkjet printers, you must understand how inkjet printers work and how they differ from sublimation options. With inkjet printers, microscopic droplets of liquid ink are sprayed directly on the printing surface via a moving mechanical arm.
By combining various amounts of three primary colors, the microscopic droplets create different images. If you were to look at a photo that was printed from an inkjet printer under appropriate magnification, you would be able to see the microscopic dots that combine to make the overall image that you see with the print.
Though dye-sublimation printers do have many benefits, they do have one drawback that you should consider. Compared to inkjet printers, sublimation models tend to be less efficient in terms of ink or ribbon usage. The amount of prints you get is usually defined by a certain number of media types or prints per cartridge. Any remaining ink that is leftover from each job is usually lost.
With inkjet printers, you will typically use standard paper to create things like office memos and other text or image documents. For photos, inkjet printers require a special photo paper media type that comes in various finish types.
With sublimation printers, they use a special type of paper or transfer media. They are not compatible with standard paper types and can be used to create lifelike photos for a variety of arts and crafts uses.
How To Use Inkjet Printers For Dye Sublimation
With several of the models covered in our review, you will see that they are primarily inkjet printers. With inkjet printers, the technology is slightly different than traditional dye sublimation models. However, they can still be used effectively for dye sublimation by following a few simple pieces of advice.
The most important thing to remember is that you should always make sure to use compatible dye sublimation ink with your inkjet printer. Check the manufacturer’s website to see which brands are supported before making a purchase. The exact formulation that each model supports will vary substantially from manufacturer to manufacturer.
Besides making sure you are using the right type of ink, you will also need special types of paper. Most dye transfer papers are divided into categories based on the type of medium that you will be applying them to. Common examples include porcelain objects like mugs and cotton material like t-shirts. You need to make sure to select the right type of paper to ensure that you are getting the best transfer possible for your given project type.
As long as you follow these two points of advice, you can help guarantee that your home dye sublimation projects are a success. When in doubt, always remember to consult the owner’s manual that is included with your printer to make sure you use it in a safe and responsible manner.
How To Choose A Sublimation Printer?
When deciding how to choose a sublimation printer, it’s important to start with what your primary goal is. Some primary reasons people use sublimation printers are for scrapbooking, creating custom coffee mugs, and t-shirt designs.
Most of the available printers that you will find can do a few of these things. However, very rarely will you find a printer that can do them all with just one unit. The reason for this is that different base media types require different application methods and print sizes.
Let’s look at custom t-shirts as an example. With t-shirt printing, you will need a dye sublimation printer with a larger printing capability. In addition, the printer must be able to accept a special type of high-release paper that is used to transfer your design via heat and pressure in a separate device directly to the fabric of the t-shirt.
For things like mugs, the process is somewhat similar. You will need a printer that can accept the right type of transfer paper for use on ceramic items like coffee mugs. You will also need a special press device that applies large amounts of heat and pressure to complete the transfer process to the mug.
For simpler applications like scrapbooking, your options are much more open. You can use virtually any type of sublimation printer with appropriate paper types to create beautiful prints from home. Many of the printer options that are currently available even have protective coatings that are designed to extend the life of your prints when stored appropriately as well.
Once you have an idea what your primary goal is, you can move onto other important factors like media size. Photo media size will determine what type of prints and projects you can complete using your printer. Two of the most popular sizes to consider for use in things like frames are 5 by 7 and 8 by 10.
Once you have decided on the range of print sizes you prefer to work with, you can move onto other important features like printing time and volume. For smaller applications, basic printers are an excellent choice that sacrifices printing time for affordability. For commercial uses in things like photo booths, you’re better to stick with a larger printer that can produce prints at a faster pace that have larger paper capacities.
Portability is another important factor that you should take into account when shopping for a sublimation printer. While larger options for photo booths and other commercial applications are somewhat bulky, there are plenty of options available that are great picks for travel use. If you’re looking for printers that are perfect for use while on the go, you should pay particular attention to their overall weight and battery capacity. Models with additional battery packs are another excellent choice to consider.
The last thing you should consider when shopping for a sublimation printer is the importance of device connectivity. The majority of commercially available printers that are available now support a broad range of devices like smartphones and tablets. Many of them are also compatible with things like SD cards and USB drives as well. If you’re a fan of wireless technology, be sure to look for printers that are NFC and Bluetooth compatible to simplify operation.
Tips To Remember When Using Dye Sublimation Printers
While it may seem difficult to transition to dye sublimation printers, there are a variety of tips and tricks that can make the process easier for beginners. The most important thing to remember is that you should always keep your printer free of contaminants like dirt and dust. Make sure to store your printing paper in a sealed container to prevent exposure. The reason for this is that dust can ruin a printing run and can become trapped in the heating elements of your printer.
For specialty projects like transfers to mugs and t-shirts, you will have to invest in a high-quality press. These devices reach very high temperatures and have adjustable clamps to ensure even heat and pressure distribution across the entire surface. While it may be possible to use something like an iron to apply transfers to a shirt, it is not recommended since the heat is subpar and the pressure distribution is not even enough to result in a high-quality image transfer.
Dye sublimation printers have a lot going for them that make them excellent options to consider. For starters, the image quality is often significantly greater than that seen in traditional inkjet printer types. They’re also quite versatile and can be used to create custom mugs and other decorative apparel for friends and family members. With just a bit of prior research and patience, you can create your own beautiful prints as well as arts and crafts projects from the comfort of your own home.