We get the question “Can You Use Sublimation Ink for Regular Printing?” a lot. The question could mean several things, and we have provided the answers below.
Table of contents
- Can you Use Sublimation Ink for Regular Printing?
- Can you Convert your Sublimation Printer back to a Regular Printer?
- Can You Use Sublimation Paper for Regular Printing?
- Can you Print with Regular Ink on Sublimation Paper?
- Can you use sublimation ink instead of ink jet printer ink in any printer?
- Can You Use Regular Paper for Sublimation?
- Can You Use Sublimation Ink on Regular Paper?
- Can You use a Regular Inkjet ink to Sublimate?
- Do You Need Two Printers?
If you’re reading this article, you may be wondering about the differences between regular inkjet ink and sublimation ink, and if and when you can substitute one for the other. Additionally, you may also be asking about sublimation paper and what happens if you use regular copy paper or inkjet paper instead. Finally, you may have a question about your printer, and whether it can be used for both sublimation and normal printing. Keep reading to find answers to all these questions below.
Can you Use Sublimation Ink for Regular Printing?
In this case, we are are interpreting the question as “Can you use the printer that you already use for sublimation to print on standard paper?” In this scenario, we assume that you have a printer and it is loaded with sublimation ink. Now you want to use it for regular printing, and you want to keep the sublimation ink in the printer. You might want to do this because you would like to only have to buy one printer and one type of ink and use them for both standard printing tasks and sublimation projects.
It is possible to do, but we don’t recommend it, and here’s why:
The Color will be Dull
When sublimation inks are printed onto paper (standard paper or sublimation paper), the results are not what you might expect. The colors are dull on the paper. The colors don’t become vibrant until the ink is sublimated onto the surface of a substrate using heat. The colors on the paper, however, keep their washed out appearance. This is a perfect process for sublimation, but not a good one if the printed piece of paper is your end goal.
The Cost of the Ink
Sublimation ink isn’t free, so using the ink to print anything other than sublimation projects means that you won’t be getting the benefits of creating sublimation projects with your ink, and will have to pay to replace the sublimation ink sooner.
The ink will soak into the Paper and Colors will Bleed
Sublimation paper has unique properties. The ink from the printer does not soak into the fibers, and it is easily released with heat. Regular paper will absorb the ink, which result in lines that may not be as crisp, and there will be likely be bleeding of colors at boundaries.
Changes Your Accounting
If you are keeping track of how much ink you use for your sublimation projects over time, using sublimation ink for non-sublimation projects will impact your calculations.
Summary – Using Sublimation Ink for Regular Printing
If you are going to print on regular paper as a one time thing, yes you can. However, the results won’t be ideal. If you are going to print with sublimation ink to standard paper on a regular basis, we don’t recommend it. It will be expensive. Additionally if you are keeping track of printing costs in your sublimation business, using the ink for many non-sublimation projects will impact your accounting.
Can you Convert your Sublimation Printer back to a Regular Printer?
Perhaps you have an inkjet printer that you converted to a sublimation printer. Now you want to convert it back to a standard printer. Is that possible?
Yes, you can, but it is not instantaneous, and transition period will give mixed results.
How to Transition from Sublimation Ink to Standard Ink
If you have an Epson Ecotank printer, then the best way to convert is to fill the ink tanks with regular ink as they go down.
This will result in a transition period where both types of inks will be used in the printer, and the colors may not be consistent. Additionally, most printers end up using one or two colors of ink faster than the others, so the overall transition to standard ink can be slow.
Important: Don’t use any syringes or unhook tubing to try to siphon out old ink, as this can causes damage to the precision ink delivery system. Then you may have to replace your printer.
Can You Use Sublimation Paper for Regular Printing?
In this case, we have to ask “Why would you want to do that?”
With this question, we assume that you have a printer loaded with sublimation ink and you want to do some regular printing. But instead of using standard copy paper, you want to print onto sublimation paper.
Sublimation Paper is Expensive
Sublimation paper is one of the more expensive variable costs of sublimation. Sublimation paper is typically sold in packages of 110 sheets, and the best price that we have seen is about $15.00 per package or about 14 cents per sheet.
Standard copy paper, on the other hand, costs about one tenth the price, at just over 1 cent per sheet.
Sublimation Paper doesn’t Look or Feel like Regular Paper
Sublimation paper is thicker and typically has a watermark on the backside of it. If you were to give someone a printout on sublimation paper, they may be taken aback.
Substituting Sublimation Paper Impacts Your Accounting
If you have a sublimation business, then you are probably keeping track of the costs associated with your supplies, the variable costs of your business. Every piece of sublimation paper that is used for non-sublimation is an expense to the business that cannot be used to create a corresponding sublimation product that would produce income.
Can you Print with Regular Ink on Sublimation Paper?
We are assuming that the person asking this question has an inkjet printer loaded with regular inkjet ink, and they want to use the inkjet ink on sublimation paper.
For the second time, we ask “Why Would you want to do this?”
Sublimation Requires the Proper Ink
If you are thinking that as long as you are using sublimation paper, you will be able to sublimate – well, think again because that will not work. See more in the section below “Can You use Regular inkjet ink to sublimate?”
Paper Substitution in a Pinch
Perhaps the person asking the question only has sublimation paper available.
Based on cost alone, we would recommend that you purchase and use copy or inkjet paper when you need printouts on you inkjet printer. See the section called “Sublimation Paper is Expensive” regarding the cost of sublimation paper compared to the cost of copy or inkjet paper.
If you really must do this, it may or it may not work. The inkjet ink will certainly transfer standard ink to the sublimation paper, but the image may smear, run, or bleed. The image may take a long time to dry, and then still smear. Different brands of papers may give different results.
We don’t recommend that you use sublimation ink for regular printing
Can you use sublimation ink instead of ink jet printer ink in any printer?
NO! Most inkjet printers cannot use sublimation ink at all. The best option is to get a printer like the Sawgrass SG500 that is made specifically for sublimation.
There are some inkjet printers, such as the Epson Econtank models, that can be filled with sublimation ink, and many people do this. Note, however, that using sublimation ink is not recommended by Epson and once you use it in the printer, you void the warranty.
Can You Use Regular Paper for Sublimation?
We have already discussed that sublimation paper costs 10x or more than regular copy paper. So, in an effort to save money, you may be wondering if you could use regular paper for sublimation instead of sublimation paper.
It is possible, but there are real downsides:
Lower Quality Transfer
The ink will sublimate onto your substrate, but the transferred image will not be as good quality as if you were using sublimation paper. The image will not be as bright. The fine details may not be crisp, and there may be some gaps in coverage.
Sublimation Paper has special properties so that it releases the ink upon heating. 95% – 98% release rates are typical. If you use standard paper, less of the ink will transfer, and more will stay bound to the paper. This means you won’t be utilizing the ink well. Much more of it will stay on the transfer paper, which gets thrown away.
If you have an image to transfer that is simple with no intricacies, and you don’t mind if the colors aren’t bright, then you can get away with using regular paper. However, sublimation paper is a technology worth using, and we recommend that you sublimate only with sublimation paper.
Can You Use Sublimation Ink on Regular Paper?
We have covered this question in the sections above. See “Can You Use Regular Paper for Sublimation” and “Can you Use Sublimation Ink for Regular Printing?”
Can You use a Regular Inkjet ink to Sublimate?
No you cannot. Inkjet ink is manufactured to adhere to the paper.
Do You Need Two Printers?
If you are serious in your sublimation hobby, or have a sublimation business, then yes, you need more than one printer.
Think of your sublimation printer as a specialized tool.
You will need a different too for sending invoices or printing fliers.
Business printers are relatively inexpensive. For the administration part of your business, we recommend that you purchase a black and white laser printer.
Keep the tools of your sublimation business separate from the office part of your business.
Sublimation is done with ink, paper, and printers, so it makes sense to ask when you need to specialized materials and when you can use common office supplies. We have provided the answers to you questions here.
Sublimation can be a hobby or a business. If you are serious in your endeavors, then you will want to use the proper tools and materials which will give you the best results.