Can You Use Sublimation Paper In Any Printer?

Printing is a necessity for many people. As we often need multiple copies of documents, reports, and records, there’s no sign of printing becoming obsolete yet. Despite this, printing is a process that can cost a lot.

Can Sublimation Paper Be Used In Any Printer?

Ink and specialty papers are usually highly-priced, which is why it can be tempting to save money by using alternative papers in the machine.

Many people continue to do this with sublimation paper, a particular type of transfer paper.

So, is sublimation paper suitable for all kinds of printers? The short answer is no.

Using sublimation paper in your standard printer is a bad idea and you won’t receive the intended outcome.

Only printers that are designed to handle sublimation ink can be used with transfer paper, provided the ink and paper are compatible. Regular printers just aren’t compatible in this way. 

We’ll cover more about why sublimation paper isn’t suitable for regular printers, including whether you can convert your home printer to handle sublimation paper. 

What Is Sublimation Paper?

Sublimation paper is a special kind of heat-sensitive paper. This is the main reason why sublimation paper is so different from regular paper.

Instead of being used to print books and reports, sublimation sheets are specially treated to print images onto fabric and clothing. 

Once the paper is exposed to heat, the ink transfers from the paper onto fabric.

This allows you to create custom designs or images without having to use embroidery or expensive equipment.

The main benefit of sublimation paper is that it doesn’t require any specialized equipment.

It works well with printers that are designed to handle sublimation printing. However, not every printer has these features. 

Why Can’t All Printers Handle Sublimation Paper?

Different kinds of papers are designed to do specific functions. This is why printers often state which types of paper are compatible with their model.

Some printers won’t be able to handle sublimation paper due to the way sublimation sheets are made.

In the case of standard printer paper, ink handles the job of printing things onto the page.

Sublimation paper is different, as the paper does the job of printing on each sheet.

As sublimation ink is heated, it transforms into a gas. This vapor is compressed onto paper to leave a fixed, detailed pattern. 

Most printers aren’t equipped with printer heads or ink canisters that are compatible with the sublimation method, which is why these printers won’t be able to use sublimation paper. 

What Kinds Of Printers Can Use Sublimation Paper?

Now you know why most printers aren’t able to handle sublimation paper, you should assess whether your current printer can handle the sublimation process.

These are some general observations for printers that can handle sublimation paper.

Printers Designed For The Sublimation Printing Process

These printer models tend to be advertised as sublimation printers. This allows people to buy them if they specifically need to carry out sublimation printing.

If a printer states that it is a sublimation printer, it can always handle sublimation paper. 

Inkjet Printers Compatible With Sublimation Paper

The majority of lower-priced inkjet printers won’t be able to do so, but higher-quality ones may be able to handle sublimation printing.

Some workforce printers may be compatible too, but do your research and look at different models to find out. 

Printers that can handle sublimation paper will state that they are compatible with its description or specifications.

If you’re unsure, you can look up the model of your printer online and check its details. 

Printers That Aren’t Compatible With Sublimation Paper

In most cases, printers that aren’t advertised as sublimation-compatible will not be able to handle sublimation paper. The following guidelines can help you avoid these printers. 

  • Printers that are affordable and lower in quality aren’t likely to have sublimation-friendly printer heads.
  • The majority of HP printers aren’t sublimation compatible, but you may be able to convert them by purchasing a CISS kit.
  • Any printers that specifically state they aren’t compatible with Sublimation CISS Ink won’t work with sublimation paper. 

Can Regular Printers Convert Into Sublimation Compatible Models?

In theory, you may be able to convert a printer into a sublimation compatible machine.

If your printer states they can handle CISS Ink, you may be able to swap the printer heads so the machine works with sublimation sheets.

However, this converting option is currently only possible with particular Epson printers.

Some of the easiest printers to convert into sublimation compatible machines are models from the Epson EcoTank Series. 

If you want to convert your printer into a sublimation compatible one, you will need to purchase a CISS Ink system.

CISS systems can vary depending on the brand you go for, so ensure that you choose a system that can work with your current printer model. 

What Will Happen If Sublimation Paper Is Used In A Regular Printer?

If you use sublimation paper in a printer, you’ll just be wasting your money.

Sublimation sheets won’t damage your printer straight away, but any images or words you print won’t bond with the paper. You’ll be wasting time, effort, and money. 

How To Prepare A Printer For Sublimation Paper

If you want to print on sublimation paper, you need to have a sublimation compatible printer and sublimation ink on hand. Follow these steps to prepare your printer for the process.

If your printer needs to be converted, make sure you do so beforehand. Install your CISS Ink system following the instructions that came with the product, or by the following advice online. 

Next, swap your standard ink canister for sublimation ink ones. These cartridges should make an audible click once they are securely in place.

Now switch your standard paper for sublimation sheets. 

If your printer needs any software, load this up, then start printing. Some kinds of printers will need specific software so they can handle sublimation sheets properly.

You should be able to find this software and any necessary information regarding it online. 

Can Standard Ink Be Used On Sublimation Sheets?

As hard as you try, regular ink will not work on sublimation sheets, no matter what you decide to print. Sublimation sheets of paper are designed to work with a specific kind of ink.

This ink will turn into gas, so the sheets need to have the ability to secure the vapor down onto the paper.

Standard ink isn’t compatible with sublimation sheets, which is why this ink will fall right off the page if they are used to print with.

Sublimation paper is designed specifically for printing on clothing. The ink which sticks to paper won’t produce a bold result on the fabric. 

Can Standard Paper Handle Sublimation Ink?

You print on regular paper using sublimation ink, but the result won’t be up to standard.

As the printing session continues, traditional sheets of paper aren’t designed to carry the ink well.

If sublimation ink is used in this way, around half of a cartridge can be wasted in the process. 

The result is a smudged design that will continue to fall off of the page. You won’t be able to transfer this design onto fabric at all, so don’t waste your time trying.

Standard paper won’t be able to handle transferring designs as sublimation sheets can. 

Alternatives To Sublimation Printers

Here are some alternative solutions to sublimation printers. 

Paying For Professional Printing

This will cost you money, but paying for this service will ensure your desired pattern is printed on your fabric properly, without issue.

Heat Transfer Sheets

Sublimation sheets are usually the most common method of transferring patterns onto fabric, but heat transfer paper is another option.

Most printers can handle heat transfer paper, but always remember to check beforehand.

Try Screen Printing

Screen printing is another way of transferring your designs onto clothing or fabric, but it does take a lot of time to learn. 


Sublimation printing is an amazing way of creating unique clothes and fabrics.

However, if you’re not using a special kind of printer, you won’t be able to get the best results from the process.

So if you want to create stunning pieces of art, you’ll need to invest in a sublimation compatible device.

This means converting your current printer or swapping out your existing one for a sublimation compatible version. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be ready to start sublimation printing!

Michael Moore

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