Epson sublimation printers are well-known for being hard-working printers that can get the job done. As a tech company that has been around since it was founded in Japan in 1942, Epson is well-established in the market for printers. Not all of their printers are designed for sublimation, though.
In actuality, Epson only has a single printer series that’s purpose-built for sublimation: the Epson SureColor. People have just found Epson printers to be so reliable and familiar that they’ve converted paper printers over to sublimation. Yep, these conversions are completely normal and a trustworthy way to get your hands on a sublimation printer!
To understand the pros and cons of getting an Epson sublimation printer, you’ll need to know how printer conversions work. Converting a regular printer to a sublimation printer isn’t a lengthy or technical process. It simply means replacing the stock ink with sublimation ink.
So, a defining feature of a convertible printer is that it can use refillable cartridges. The reason why this works has to do with the basic process of sublimation. During sublimation, the ink heats up to the point where it turns into a gas without ever turning into a liquid.
This means that the ink will infuse with the material in a very permanent way. It also means you need a specific printer head, a Piezo printhead. This printhead can work with sublimation ink. Other printheads, like the common thermal printhead, aren’t compatible with sublimation ink.
With all of that in mind, Epson could be the perfect choice for a sublimation printer. Of course, Epson printers could also be more of a headache than they’re worth––it all depends on what you are willing to prioritize.
Best Deal Today
- Innovative Cartridge-Free Printing ― High-capacity ink tanks mean no more tiny, expensive ink cartridges; Epson’s exclusive EcoFit ink bottles make filling easy and worry-free
- Dramatic Savings on Replacement Ink ― Save up to 90% with replacement ink bottles vs. ink cartridges (1) – that’s enough to print up to 4,500 pages black/7,500 color (2), equivalent to about 90 individual ink cartridges (3)
- Stress-Free Printing — Up to 2 years of ink in the box (4) – and with every replacement ink set – for fewer out of ink frustrations
- Zero Cartridge Waste – By using an EcoTank printer, you can help reduce the amount of cartridge waste ending up in landfills
- Impressive Print Quality ― Unique Micro Piezo Heat-Free Technology produces sharp text – plus impressive color photos and graphics – on virtually any paper type
Epson Sublimation Printer Overview
Epson makes a wide variety of printers, but only three printer series are really suitable for sublimation printing. Two of these series are convertible printers, and the other series has two purpose-built sublimation printers (the SureColor series).
Out of Epson’s different models, the convertible ones are actually more popular. They feel like a better deal and might be more familiar to you if you already have experience with those Epson printer series.
Here are the three printer series:
- Epson SureColor F170 and F570
- Epson EcoTank series
- Epson WorkForce series
Epson EcoTank and WorkForce series are very long-standing printer collections with a variety of options. We didn’t focus on one specific model in this review, but instead, we opted to describe what each of the printer series are like overall. The SureColor series is the exception since the F170 and F570 models are the only two that can do sublimation printing.
Release Date and Price
Epson first released the WorkForce series in 2008. By now, there are tens of different kinds of WorkForce printers and all of them have different specs and features. You can find some of the cheaper or older WorkForce models for as low as $100, but the larger and more feature-packed they are, the more expensive they can get. Some WorkForce printers cost as much as $940.
EcoTank is a much newer series, having been released in August 2015. Many EcoTanks are in the $300 to $500 range, and that’s what you can expect to pay for a decent one to use with sublimation ink.
It wasn’t until long after the WorkForce and EcoTank models were being converted to sublimation that Epson decided to make some purpose-built sublimation printers. These two printers, the SureColor F170 and F570, were both available for purchase in 2021. The F170 was released first–-it was available for sale by January 2021. The F570 didn’t come out until the fall of that year.
The SureColor F170 consistently retails at $400. On the other side of the spectrum, the Epson SureColor F570 is a little harder to find online and usually costs between $2,000 and $3,000. It’s definitely in another price category from the rest of Epson’s sublimation printers.
Remember that all of these prices don’t factor in any refillable cartridges you might need to purchase (usually around $20) or the sublimation ink. The ink on its own can run you between $30 and $60.
The nice thing is that you can use the same Epson sublimation ink on all of the above printers. Another popular sublimation printing company, Sawgrass, requires the usage of their specialty sublimation ink in all of their printers. It can cost twice as much as Epson’s ink.
The features that you’ll get on your Epson printer vary widely based on the exact model.
Most Epson WorkForce and EcoTank printers have Wi-Fi capability, and all three series (WorkForce, EcoTank, and SureColor) are only compatible with a Mac or Windows computer. You’ll need to install the correct drivers to your computer so that you can send designs over to the printer.
WorkForce printers often have a wider print bed than EcoTank ones. You can get WorkForce printers with a print bed of up to 13″ x 19″ for large sublimation projects. Even the SureColor F170, which is purpose-built for sublimation, can only print as large as 8.5” x 14.”
Unfortunately, EcoTank and WorkForce printers are characterized by the need for conversion in order to sublimation print. The F170 has greater color trueness, a 2-year warranty, and full support. These features make the F170 very tempting for sublimation printing.
Although you might find an EcoTank or even a newer WorkForce printer that offers a warranty, using an inkjet printer for sublimation will void the warranty. You also won’t have any support if you mess up your conversion or have issues with sublimation down the line.
Here are the specs for a popular model in each sublimation printer series:
|SureColor F170||WorkForce WF-3820||EcoTank ET-2800|
|Size||14.8″ x 19.8″ x 7.4″||16.7″ x 19.4″ x 9.8″||14.8” x 22.8” x 10″|
|Weight||10.2 lbs||19.4 lbs||8.8 lbs|
|Resolution||1200 x 600 DPI||4800 x 2400 DPI||5760 x 1440 DPI|
|Warranty||1-year||1-year (US & Canada)||2-year|
|Default Ink Type||Epson T49M Ink Bottles||DURABrite Ultra pigment ink||Epson T522 Ink Bottles|
|Max Printing Size||8.5″ x 14” (length can be extended)||13” x 19”||8.5” x 47.2” (long document mode)|
Epson Sublimation Printer Review
Epson printers are widely renowned, but they aren’t always the easiest to use for sublimation. We think the real benefit of using an Epson printer is a combination of low price, customizability, and accessibility.
The SureColor F170 and F570 are both very easy to set up. Since they’re purpose-built for sublimation printing, there’s going to be no lengthy ink-swapping process. Plus, you won’t need to fiddle with the color settings as much to get your prints to be true to color.
Unfortunately, the Epson WorkForce and EcoTank printers are going to have longer setup times than any other sublimation printer. You also run the risk of messing up your conversions or having to do more troubleshooting to fix any problems that come up.
Sawgrass sublimation printers are the main competition against Epson printers, and they have better ease of use than both SureColor and convertible printers.
The printing size, costs, and every other specification and little detail are variable. This is actually great news for Epson printers–-there’s going to be a printer out there to match whatever your requirements are.
Although Epson printers fall behind in ease of use, they’re worth it because of how ‘customizable’ the options are. EcoTank and WorkForce printers have huge price ranges, including printers as low as $100 to $200. You’ll never get that type of deal with a purpose-built sublimation printer.
It might not matter that you’re sacrificing some time with quality control, troubleshoting, or setup. With an Epson printer, you’re saving money on printer and ink costs while having more options.
By default, the printing size and resolution of Epson printers are usually better than that of competitors like Sawgrass. You can go even bigger if need be, especially with WorkForce printers.
Epson Sublimation Printer Pros and Cons
- Budget option
- Very accessible, many models sold at many different retailers
- High print size and resolution
- Difficult to set up (EcoTank or WorkForce)
- Mediocre or no warranty options
- May require more troubleshooting
Epson Sublimation Printer: Is It a Buy?
The Epson sublimation printers on the market today are definitely worth a purchase if you’re in the right situation. Still, buying an Epson printer could be a mistake if you aren’t prepared.
Buy it if…
You’re totally fine with putting in some upfront work to get an Epson printer converted or you don’t mind troubleshooting. It’s also an amazing option if you’re working with a budget. The alternatives don’t look too good if you can’t afford an expensive printer (or expensive ink).
Epson printers will also work well for you if there’s a specific resolution or print size that you want to use right off the bat.
Don’t buy it if…
You don’t want to deal with potential quality issues or mess up the conversion. If the idea of having no warranty bothers you, then you won’t be happy with an Epson printer. You could make an exception for the SureColor F170, but a Sawgrass printer will probably serve you better in the long run.
Sawgrass printers have automatic maintenance, extremely short and simple setup, and even come with their own software. If you don’t already have design software and you aren’t tech savvy, then why take the risk? An Epson sublimation printer could be more effort than it’s worth. Ultimately, it comes down to what you’re looking for and the learning curve you’re willing to commit to.
Last update on 2022-10-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API