Can You Use Sublimation Ink For Regular Printing

Can You Use Sublimation Ink For Regular Printing

The multipurpose nature of sublimation ink permits its application on a variety of surfaces, including wood, mugs, glasses, and vibrant T-shirts. Can I use sublimation ink for regular printing? This is a question that many new crafters ask.

They want to use the sublimation ink to print regular papers and photos, but there are some things you should think about before you use it. 

Using sublimation ink on regular paper isn’t a good idea because it’s specifically made for sublimation paper. Regular paper can’t handle the heat and pressure needed for sublimation printing, which usually results in not-so-great print quality.

If you don’t know if the sublimation ink will work with your printer, you could damage it and mess up your photos and papers. This guide will assist you in figuring it out.

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Key Takeaways:

  • Sublimation ink is designed for sublimation paper, and using it on regular paper results in poor print quality due to the inability of regular paper to handle the required heat and pressure.
  • Using sublimation ink for regular printing is not cost-effective. Sublimation ink is more expensive, and its frequent use for non-sublimation tasks will increase costs and waste ink.
  • The regular paper absorbs sublimation ink, causing colors to appear dull and lines to blur, unlike the vibrant results on sublimation paper.
  • Not all printers, especially standard thermal and laser printers, can handle sublimation ink. Only inkjet printers with piezoelectric printheads, like many Epson models, are compatible.
  • Mixing sublimation and regular printing with the same ink disrupts usage tracking and increases maintenance due to potential printer damage and the need for frequent cleaning.

What is Sublimation Ink?

What is Sublimation Ink
What is Sublimation Ink

Sublimation ink is a specialized type of ink used for printing designs on various substrates, including t-shirts, ceramic mugs, and metal tumblers. Sublimation ink is different from other inks because it is triggered by heat. 

When subjected to heat and pressure, it undergoes a unique transformation, it directly changes from a solid to a gaseous state, bypassing the liquid phase. 

This process allows the ink to penetrate the substrate, where it cools and solidifies, resulting in a permanent and durable image or design.

The key component of sublimation ink is dispersed dyes, which are soluble in various solvents such as water, glycols, and resins. When heated, these dispersed dyes transform into a gas, allowing them to bond with the substrate at a molecular level. 

As a result, sublimation prints are highly resistant to fading and cracking, making them ideal for long-lasting applications. However, it’s essential to note that sublimation ink requires specialized printers and substrates due to its unique activation process. 

Despite this limitation, it remains a popular choice for creating vibrant, high-resolution images that withstand the test of time.

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How Does Sublimation Printing Differ From Regular Printing?

The process of sublimation printing is all about chemicals. For normal printing, you don’t need a surface that is treated with polymers to hold the ink. You can print texts, pictures, and projects for everyday life.

On the other hand, sublimation likes to mix with the substrate. When heated, sublimation ink fully bonds to a t-shirt, mug, tumbler, glass, acrylic, metal, or any other surface that has a polymer coating.

The sublimation process is very different from the printing we do every day. The sublimation process is actually very easy, even though it might sound hard to people who are new to crafting. 

But you need to know the basics of sublimation so that you don’t mess up the printing.

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Can You Use Sublimation Ink For Regular Printing?

Can You Use Sublimation Ink For Regular Printing

No is the short answer! It is not suggested to use sublimation ink for regular printing because the colors will look dull, it will cost more, there may be problems with the ink absorbing, and there are financial concerns. 

Also, you should only use sublimation paper for sublimation. Using it for normal printing can cost more and might give you different results than you want.

The Color Will Be Dull:

When sublimation paints are used to print on regular paper or sublimation paper, the colors don’t look as bright. The bright colors can only be made when heat is used to sublimate the ink onto the surface of a medium. 

Because of this, the colors on the printed paper still look washed out. This is the best way to do sublimation, but it’s not good for making printed paper that will be left over.

The Price Of The Ink:

Not only is sublimation ink not free, but if you use it for things other than sublimation projects, you won’t get the most out of it. You will also have to buy new sublimation ink more often, which will cost you more money.

Ink Will Soak into Paper and Bleed Colors:

Sublimation paper has special qualities that keep the ink from getting into the fibers. This makes it easy to remove the ink with heat. When regular paper is used, on the other hand, it soaks up the ink, making the lines less clear and the colors bleed at the edges.

It Changes Your Accounting:

If you are keeping track of how much ink you use for sublimation projects over time, using sublimation ink for things other than sublimation will throw off your calculations.

When the same ink is used for both sublimation and regular printing, it’s hard to get a good idea of how much is being used and how much it costs.

Technically, you could use sublimation ink to print on normal paper for one time, but the results would not be great. But you shouldn’t use sublimation ink on regular paper if you want to print with it often.

It could have a big effect on your costs and your accounts. Because of this, it is best to use the right ink for each printing job to get the best results and save money.

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Can You Print on Regular Paper With Sublimation Ink?

No is the answer! You can’t use sublimation ink on regular paper. The reason is that normal paper can’t hold the color. Sublimation ink usually only works on sublimation paper because it has a polymer covering that keeps the ink in place. 

When the printed sublimation paper is heated, the sublimation ink moves from the paper to the base. Sublimation is a chemical process.

Regular paper, on the other hand, doesn’t have a polymer coating that helps the sublimation ink stay on the paper. If you use sublimation ink on regular paper, the paper will start to soak up the ink and become wet, which will make it less sticky. 

Heat won’t be able to move through the paper. Because of this, you can’t print normal documents or papers with sublimation ink.

Why is Sublimation Printing Not Supported by My Standard Printer?

Before you start sublimation printing, you should make sure that your printer can handle it. There are a lot of different kinds of printers, but the most well-known ones are thermal, laser, and inkjet.

You can’t use a thermal or laser printer with sublimation if it prints with toners or heat-sensitive materials. Laser or thermal printers use heat, but sublimation is an inkjet writing method that doesn’t need heat.

That being said, if you already have an inkjet printer, you should check to see if it works with sublimation ink. Let me clear things up for you, even though sublimation can’t be done with all inkjet printers.

An inkjet printer with “Piezo printing technology” is one of a certain type. Epson sublimation printers, which are often used for sublimation, are the most well-known piezo printhead printers. 

One reason is that electric piezo crystals, not heat, are used by piezoelectric printheads to push the ink droplet out of the holes.

Besides that, you must think if you have Canon or Brother and if they can be turned into sublimation. 

The answer is here! If an inkjet printer doesn’t have a piezo printhead or doesn’t come with sublimation ink from the maker or a third-party supplier, it can’t be used for sublimation.

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How Does the Sublimation Printing System Work When Added to a Regular Printer?

How Does the Sublimation Printing System Work When Added to a Regular Printer

The sublimation printing method can only be put on certain types of printers. If you turn a regular printer into a sublimation printer, the product guarantee is no longer valid. 

If a printer isn’t compatible with sublimation, installing refill cartridges, and adding sublimation ink will make a big mess on the paper because the ink will bleed.

Epson printers do have a CISS ink system through their cartridges, and sublimation ink is easy to put back into the ink tanks. It might be hard for some WF line printers to do this because they need to change cartridges.

You should look at the Epson website to see if your regular printer has the CISS ink system and piezo printhead.


We always tell people to turn their brand-new Epson Ecotank printer into a sublimation printer. What’s the point? If you change an Epson printer into a sublimation printer, the usual ink will still be in the printhead and ink lines. 

So, if you want to turn a regular printer into a sublimation printer, you should clean the ink lines and printhead really well to get rid of the old normal ink.

After that, put the refillable ink refills in place and add the sublimation ink to them. Also, print the rough sublimation paper on the printer after setting it up before starting to print on the real base paper. But Epson Ecotank sublimation printers don’t have reusable cartridges. 

Instead, they have refillable ink tanks, which means that if you’ve used an Ecotank printer before, you can add more sublimation ink on your own after cleaning it.

Bottom Line: Can You Use Sublimation Ink For Regular Printing

The easy answer to the question of whether Can you use sublimation ink for regular printing is no. Using sublimation ink for regular printing is not suggested for a variety of reasons, including color dullness, cost implications, ink absorption, and accounting concerns.

Also, remember that switching from sublimation ink to regular ink needs to be done slowly to not hurt the printer.

Also, sublimation paper is made to be used only for sublimation. Because of its unique properties and higher cost, it is not a good choice for standard printing. 

If you use regular ink on sublimation paper or normal paper for sublimation, the quality will be lower and you will waste ink.

It is best to use sublimation machines, sublimation ink, and sublimation paper to get the best results from sublimation printing. You can stay productive and make high-quality sublimation goods by keeping your sublimation tools separate from your office supplies.


To answer your question, the usage of sublimation ink for regular printing is not suggested. Sublimation ink is a special type designed to work with sublimation paper and the heat transfer process. 

Unlike regular inkjet ink, sublimation ink doesn’t just sit on top of the paper; instead, it undergoes a fascinating transformation from solid to gas, diffusing into the material it’s printed on. 

Inks that are water-based and dry by evaporation are used in regular inkjet printers. This leaves the ink on the surface of the paper. In contrast, sublimation ink requires a heat press to trigger its transformation, and it’s incompatible with the mechanisms of regular inkjet printers. 

Attempting to use sublimation ink in a regular printer is akin to forcing a mismatched key into a lock—printer mechanisms aren’t equipped to handle the unique properties of sublimation ink. 

The consequences of such a mismatch include ink clogging, printer damage, poor print quality, durability impact, and increased cost. So, if you need to print regular documents, stick to regular inkjet ink and paper.

Certainly! Sublimation printing is a method known for its vibrant and long-lasting results. It involves transferring dye to a material using heat, creating a permanent bond. 

Unlike traditional printing where ink remains on the surface, sublimation ink converts to gas and penetrates the material, resulting in vivid, durable prints. To engage in sublimation printing, you need a dedicated dye sublimation printer. 

However, some regular printers, particularly Epson inkjet printers, can be successfully converted for sublimation printing. These modified printers allow you to print with sublimation ink. 

On the other hand, most regular HP, Canon, Dell, and Lexmark printers are not suitable for sublimation conversion.

Confirming the sublimation compatibility of your printer with the manufacturer is absolutely necessary before performing any alterations. This will help you avoid any potential harm. 

 In summary, while sublimation printing requires specialized equipment, a few regular printers can be adapted for this purpose, but not all.

Sublimation ink is specifically designed for a unique printing process that involves transferring dye onto paper or other materials using heat. Unlike regular ink, which is absorbed by standard paper, sublimation ink requires a special type of paper with a coating that prevents immediate absorption. 

When heated, the ink releases and bonds with the material, resulting in vibrant and long-lasting prints. Attempting to use sublimation ink on regular paper would yield unsatisfactory results. 

Regular paper lacks the necessary coating, causing the ink to smudge, bleed, and not dry properly. Therefore, for optimal outcomes, it’s crucial to use sublimation ink with the appropriate sublimation paper and printing process.

It is highly suggested that you have separate printers for different tasks if you are serious about sublimation, whether it is an interest or a business. This is why:

Sublimation Printer: For the best results on your sublimation projects, you need a specialized sublimation printer. These printers are made to work with sublimation ink, so they can reproduce colors accurately and transfer ink quickly.

Business Printer: It’s a good idea to keep your sublimation printer separate from your office or management printer. If you need to print bills, flyers, or do other office work, buying a black and white laser printer will save you time and money.

You can keep your sublimation tools separate from your office supplies so that your work stays focused and organized. This will improve both quality and productivity.

Last Updated on June 5, 2024 by Muhammad Haseeb

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