Congratulations! You’ve decided to take the plunge into the exciting world of full-color personalization with a new sublimation printer. It’s a great way to start or grow any business, but it can be a little overwhelming to find the right printer for you.
There are really two main factors to consider when setting out to buy a sublimation printer:
What do you want to make
What amount of space do you have available
What items you want to customize can have a big impact on the printer you choose. If you’re just looking to do smaller items like keychains and drinkware, then a desktop version might be the right choice for you. But if you’re looking to do larger, home décor style signs or t-shirts and other garments you might want to look at a printer with a bigger transfer output.
Small Format, Big Results
If you’re just getting started in sublimation, or you have limited space for your equipment, desktop sublimation printers that can get you personalizing items in no time. Desktop sublimation printers are great for customizing small to mid-sized items, creating transfers for shirts up to size XL, and a wide range of drinkware including mugs and tumblers.
Sawgrass, a company that specializes in manufacturing printers built for sublimation, offers two great desktop printers: the Sawgrass SG500 and Sawgrass SG1000. Each will fit comfortably on a desk or counter, making them ideal for home craft rooms and shops where space is an issue. The SG500 is similar in size to a traditional desktop printer and can create transfers up to 8.5” x 14”. It’s great option for someone just getting started with personalization or for a shop looking to add a second printer for smaller items.
The SG1000 offers some more versatility in a slightly larger footprint, and still fits comfortably on most desks and workspaces. This printer can print on cut sheets up to 11” x 17”, giving customers the flexibility to transfer on to larger items such as signage and shirts up to size XL. The larger print size also allows customers to print more copies of the same design on one page, making it perfect for customizing multiple, smaller items like keychains or magnets.
Both the SG500 and SG1000 print using Sawgrass exclusive CMYK inks and offer an optional bypass tray to print on media up to 51” long.
If you’re looking to customize items or create larger transfers for sports jerseys or signs or are ready to grow your sublimation business, the Epson SureColor F570 is the printer for you. This printer has a bigger footprint than its desktop counterparts but offers more versatility in the form of larger prints and the ability to use roll-fed sheet stock as standard equipment. It also features Epson’s mess-free refillable inks, which eliminates the need for continuously throwing away empty ink cartridges. While this printer will still fit on larger countertops or work tables, there is an optional stand available to help free up your workspace.
The F570 is an extremely capable printer, offering customers the ability to print to cut sheets as well as roll-fed media up to 24” wide. The printer also has a built-in cutter that will cut roll-fed paper at a desired length. This maximizes paper usage and eliminates large areas of wasted paper. If you only need to print three 6” round transfers, the printer will print and cut the sheet to length.
Along with the larger print sizes, the F570 also offers outstanding print resolution of 2,400 x 1,200 dpi. This means that even larger transfers will come out looking sharp and crisp with outstanding color reproduction.
Sawgrass also offers a mid-size format printer option called the Sawgrass Virtuoso VJ628. For vibrant color printing up to 25” wide, this printer is great for photography, fine art and signs that produces neutral grays and deep, rich blacks. Like most large format printers, the paper is roll fed, and the VJ268 can accommodate rolls up to 250’ long.
The VJ628 printer has both CMYK and eight-color ink configurations, giving you crisp images and true color reproduction up to 1,400 x 1,400 dpi. The VJ628 has an optional stand that can be purchased separately, but it’s slightly smaller footprint may fit on a work table or large countertop.
Larger Format Workhorses
Sublimation is an extremely versatile way to personalize items and offers unique customization options, such as the ability to create full-bleed (edge-to-edge) prints. Full-bleed prints are great for one-of-a-kind “print to sew” sports jerseys, full image blankets and throws, and large format signs and banners. If those are items you’re looking to create for your customers, then you should consider a large format printer to handle that workload.
Not only do large format printers create transfers that are, well, larger in size than their small to mid-sized counterparts, but they typically print faster and offer a wider color range than small format printers. If you’re looking to do large volume orders like dozens of mugs at a time, then a large format printer would help ramp up your productivity.
If you’re looking at doing true larger format sublimation, the Epson SureColor F6370 offers an even bigger print size up to 44” wide and print speeds of up to 680 square feet per hour. This printer is great for sublimating large banners, graphics and signs, and the optional take-up reel makes managing those prints a breeze. The F6370 comes with a stand and is not meant to be used on a counter or table top.
Both printers have an optional “catch basket” that can attach to their respective stands, allowing you to do other things while the printer creates your transfers and safely keeps them off the floor.
When choosing a sublimation printer, be sure to factor in the other equipment you’ll need, namely a heat press. You’ll want a press that will accommodate the items you want to customize. If you’re choosing a large format printer for its print speed and ability to run lots of small to mid-sized prints, then a standard sized heat press should do the trick. But if you want to create large graphics and full coverage printed garments, then you’ll need a big press to complete the transfer.
If you’re looking at strictly doing drinkware, a dedicated convection oven and mug press can help save space in your home office or shop. Both of those items are “counter friendly” and can get you started personalizing items right away. You can always add a traditional press as your business grows.
Whether you’re in a home office or larger production workshop, where you’ll put the printer and how easy it is to access is something to keep in mind. Modern sublimation printers have come a long way as far as maintenance is concerned, but you’ll still want to be able to get to the back of your printer if needed.
Regardless of your experience level and office setup, if you’re looking to get into full-color personalization, there’s a sublimation printer that will work for you. We have a team of experts available to help you choose the right model for you. They’ll help you get your printer set up and installed at no additional cost.
Johnson Plastics Plus has everything you need get started with your sublimation business, including replacement inks for all of the printers we sell, sublimation paper, and thousands of blanks that have been tested to work with sublimation.
We’re committed to helping you make the best decision possible for your business. If you’re looking for more information, be sure to check out our blog for additional articles on sublimation, visit our library of webinars featuring hands-on demonstrations with our product and equipment experts, and explore our YouTube channel for how-to and informational videos.