The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Sublimation Printer

By Jeff Butler | Published on May 25, 2024

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Choosing a Sublimation Machine that's Best for Your Business

Sublimation Printing - the buzz you’ve been hearing about in the custom decorated product world lately! What exactly is a sublimation machine and how does sublimation work?

Dye sublimation transfer is a process where you take a digital image, print it with a sublimation printer using sublimation inks, onto transfer paper. Once you’ve printed your sublimation transfer, you place it under a heat press on top of your polyester or poly coated item (substrate) and heat until the inks turn to a gas and transfer the image onto the item.

The finished results are INCREDIBLE and best of all, there’s NO weeding involved! From hard goods such as coffee mugs and aluminum photo panels, to soft goods like t-shirts and pillow cases - the possibilities are endless!

Interested? Great! Let’s take a look at the current offering of sublimation printing machines and compare their strengths and weaknesses.

Sawgrass SG500 Sublimation Printer System

Sawgrass printers are designed specifically for sublimation and offer some of the lowest startup costs of any product decorating technology.

The Sawgrass SG500 Sublimation Printer System is the perfect start to creating personalized products at home. With low start up and operating costs, you'll soon be creating customized products with vibrant HD images - quickly, easily and profitably. Designed to minimize ink and power consumption while maximizing quality and efficiency, the SG500 enables you to create the highest definition images with the lowest per image cost.

The SG500 is limited to printing transfers of 8.5” wide so this needs to be taken into consideration when planning your product offerings. Though this sublimation printer is limited to 8.5” wide, utilizing a bypass tray (sold separately) allows you to print on media up to 51” long. Current pricing for the SG500 comes in at $574 with the starter installation kit and inks.

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Sawgrass SG1000 Sublimation Printer System

Next up is the Sawgrass SG1000 Sublimation Printer System. The ideal printer for the growing business or ambitious entrepreneur, the SG1000 prints on media up to 11" x 17" (28 x 43 cm) with the standard tray.

This is perfect for performance apparel, soft goods, and small or medium-sized photo panels. Like all Sawgrass printers, the SG1000 performs its own automatic maintenance cycle, for trouble-free printing. For complete peace of mind, the SG1000 is backed by a 2-year warranty, as well as unlimited tech support for the life of the product.

Having the ability to print transfers of 11” x 17” means you also need to have a heat press machine with a press area to maximize this advantage. We recommend a heat press with a press area of 16” x 20”. This opens the door to some exciting and high value products such as cutting boards, apparel, aluminum photo panels, and more. The SG1000 printer is priced at $1524 when paired with the starter installation kit and inks.

EPSON SureColor 570 Sublimation Printer

Get fast, reliable dye-sub printing right out of the box with the 24" EPSON SureColor 570. Ideal for personalizing awards, mugs, mousepads and more, this high-performance dye-sublimation printer delivers professional-quality prints using powerful PrecisionCore® technology.

A truly turnkey solution, the SureColor F570 arrives with a host of convenient features to streamline workflow, including specialized transfer paper for both rigid and soft media, a 50-sheet auto-feed tray and built-in cutter, and drivers for both Windows® and Mac®. Plus, with its remarkably compact, space-saving design, you can maximize workshop space.

The EPSON SureColor F570 is a professional solution and comes in at the top of the price group on the initial printer investment (MSRP: $2495) but wins in size and cost of ink. EPSON sublimation ink is some of the lowest priced sublimation ink in the industry.

Which is the best sublimation printer for my business?

As you can see, it all boils down to size and ink cost when comparing these sublimation machines. When planning your product offering strategy, this is what you need to consider. If your business model includes setting up and vending at events, the Sawgrass SG500 is perfect for portability. For a high volume production facility, you can’t beat the affordability and reliability of the EPSON SureColor 570. For an all around workhorse, the Sawgrass SG1000 is the perfect choice.

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