Can You Use Sublimation Ink For Regular Printing?

Can You Use Sublimation Ink For Regular Printing

Printing has been a revolutionary invention of modern science. It has enabled people to record things in pages that were otherwise quite impossible to do so. As the world has moved forward, so has printing technology. Where people were only able to print letters before, nowadays it is possible to print anything on any object. These printers use various kinds of inks to complete these task. One of such inks is the sublimation ink.

But, can you use sublimation ink for regular printing? The straight answer is no, it’s not possible. Sublimation ink is the kind of ink that uses the principle of sublimation. Sublimation is the process where a solid turns directly into a gas when heat is applied. This is why it is not recommended to use sublimation ink for regular printing.

So, is it ok to use sublimation ink for regular printing? Is it possible to do it at all? Let’s find out.

Let’s See Why Can’t You Use Sublimation Ink For Regular Printing

Let’s address the elephant in the room right away. Could sublimation ink be used for regular printing?  It is not possible due to several factors. I will discuss them a bit later. But if you are wondering if there is any way to make your regular Mac and pc compatible printer compatible with sublimation printing, the answer is yes. 

But notice the difference between the two questions, you can’t use sublimation ink for regular printing, that is a fact. This doesn’t mean that you can’t modify your printer to do so. I will discuss those methods as well. 

Now, let’s find out why you can’t use sublimation ink for regular printing. 

1. The difference between the two ink types

The primary reason you can’t use sublimation ink for regular printing is the difference between regular ink and sublimation ink.

Sublimation inks tend to turn into a gas from solid directly. This is an unwanted trait of ink if you are willing to print regular stuff on regular paper. Because whatever you are printing will seem a little less bright if there is a little too much heat. 

On the other hand, the regular ink that is used for regular printing has no such characteristics. As a result, it doesn’t become gas when becomes a little heated

2. The difference in the process of the printing

Due to the difference in properties of the inks, the printing processes of these inks are also different respectively. When you print with sublimation ink, you are probably using it for printing logos or/ and pictures onto a T-shirt. For this, the ink is first turned into a gas by using heat. Then it is bound with the sublimation paper or the cloth. This is a very specific procedure that requires specialized printers.

But, regular home, office, or business printers don’t follow this method of printing. They follow a more conventional type of thermal printing method. So the heat doesn’t reach the point where the sublimation ink would have turned into gas. As a result, the ink will just seep into the printer and ruin the machine as well the printing surface.

3. The difference in the printers

Due to the difference in the types of ink and the printing processes, regular printers like journaling printer or photo printer don’t even support sublimation ink. You will need a specialized printer for printing with sublimation ink. As regular printers don’t support sublimation ink, there is no chance you will be able to use sublimation ink for regular printing.

How To Turn Your Printer Into A Sublimation Printer

Not being able to print with sublimation ink with regular printers doesn’t mean it is not possible to turn a regular printer into a sublimation printer. The trick is to use a different kind of printer head from the regular ones. This special printer head is called The Piezo print head.

This print head doesn’t use the traditional way of heating ink to print. Rather it uses pressure to print by forcing the ink into the paper or fabric. This is exactly how sublimation printers work.

When the Piezo print head works, it changes the shape of the small amount of ink that is put inside its chamber by charging. This generates pressure that makes the print head able to force the ink out of the nozzle and into the printing surface. 

Now that you know what the best print head is for sublimation printing, let’s take a look at how you should go about turning your regular printer into a sublimation printer.

1. Cleaning the printer

When printing with sublimation ink, it is a must that the sublimation ink doesn’t mix with regular dye ink. So, thoroughly clean your inkjet printer with appropriate cleaning solutions. Clean the printer as many times as needed to make sure that absolutely no ink is present in the chambers.

2. Changing the ink

As your printer was a regular one before, it must have been using regular ink. Remove all regular ink from the chambers before you even think about installing sublimation ink. To be sure that the ink has been removed, clean the printhead multiple times. Once you are done with removing the old ink, install sublimation ink.

3. Resetting the printer back to the Factory Setting

It is mandatory to start from scratch when modifying a regular wireless printer into a sublimation printer. Because sublimation printers require different characteristics than regular printers, you will need to reset everything. The most common changes that occur are the required density, surface tension, and viscosity. Even the required amount of ink is different in the two printers. So resetting the printer is the best choice.

4. Changing the ICC ( International Color Consortium) 

If you want to obtain the best printout quality, you have to change the ICC.  You will get a sharp and vivid printout if you do so. While changing the ICC, set it so that it suits your printer.

5. Printing with the modified printer

Last but not the least, it’s time to print with the new sublimation printer. If you have followed the steps mentioned above, there is no doubt you will be able to print high-quality logos and pictures. But there are some other factors affecting the printing quality as well. They are the ink, the condition of the printer, the quality of the papers, etc. 

Which Regular Printers Support Sublimation Ink? 

There are only a handful of printers that support sublimation ink. This has been made possible due to their use of the aforementioned Piezo technology. Most of these printers are EPSON printers while there are a couple of Sawgrass models as well. The printers supporting sublimation ink are:

  • EPSON Profession T3170
  • EPSON EcoTank Models 2000-5000
  • EPSON WF-models 1000-7600
  • Sawgrass SG500
  • Sawgrass VJ 628

Also, if you want the best printer for designing t-shirts and mug, you can read my review about best inkjet printers for heat transfer.

Frequently Asked Questions

can you use sublimation ink on sticker paper?

Yes, you can use sublimation ink on sticker paper. However, the results may not be what you expect. The biggest difference between regular printer paper and sticker paper is that the latter is designed to be affixed to a surface and to withstand moisture. So if you use sublimation ink on sticker paper, the ink may not dry completely, which could lead to smudging or peeling. Additionally, the adhesive on sticker paper can cause problems with transfer printing. If you're looking for good results with sublimation ink, it's best to use a high-quality printer paper that's specifically designed for this purpose.

Can I use sublimation ink on photo paper?

Unfortunately, sublimation inks will not work on photo paper. The most common type of sublimation ink is a dye-based ink, and photo paper is usually coated with a layer of resin that will not allow the ink to pass through to the other side.

Can you use sublimation paper for regular printing?

No, sublimation paper is specifically designed for use in sublimation printers, which are a type of piezoelectric printer. They differ from other types of printers in that they apply heat and pressure to the print head to release the ink, rather than using an electromagnet to pull the ink onto the paper. The reason you shouldn't try to use sublimation paper in a regular printer is because it won't work properly. The ink will either smudge or smear, or it will simply not transfer at all.

Can I use sublimation ink on heat transfer paper?

Heat transfer paper is used with sublimation ink, pigment ink, solvent ink or dye-sublimation ink. When heat is applied, the inks turn into a gas and are absorbed by the paper. The image on the paper is then transferred to a cloth or other surface. The type of heat transfer paper you need depends on the type of printer you have and the type of inks you plan to use. For example, if you have an HP printer and plan to use sublimation inks, you'll need to buy HP sublimation transfer paper. If you have an Epson printer and want to use pigment inks, you'll need Epson pigment-based heat transfer paper.

Final Words

Due to the increasing popularity of sublimation printing, the demand for sublimation ink has been increasing rapidly. But the special process of sublimation printing doesn’t allow regular printers to print with sublimation ink. But with the Piezo technology, you can convert your regular printer into a sublimation printer.

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