For those who are interested in sublimation printing, the cost of a specific printer for this can be prohibitively expensive.
Epson make some reasonably priced printers which can be converted to use sublimation ink, and we take a look at a couple of them in this guide.
We will explain what sublimation printing is, why you would convert a regular printer and what you need for it. Then we will look at converting two different types of Epson printers to sublimation.
What Is Sublimation Printing?
Sublimation printing is the process of transferring images and designs onto fabric or ceramic by using sublimation paper, pressure and heat.
A sublimation printer produces a design onto a piece of sublimation or transfer paper, and this is then transferred onto fabric by means of pressure and heat.
The process changes the ink from a solid state into a gas, hence the term sublimation.
This method of printing only works on certain materials, however. Polyester and polymer fabrics or those coated with these materials, polycotton, ceramic and PVC. It will not work on natural materials like 100% cotton.
Why Convert An Epson Printer To Sublimation?
To create products through sublimation printing, you will need a suitable printer. A professional sublimation printer will cost in excess of a thousand dollars.
Most people who want to start this business don’t have that kind of money to spend on equipment.
An Epson printer can be successfully converted to carry out sublimation printing for a fraction of the cost.
For a small business or hobby, it is more than capable of producing good results.
What Do You Need To Convert An Epson Printer To Sublimation?
The first thing you will need is an Epson printer. For best results, you should use a brand-new printer rather than trying to re-purpose an existing one.
This is not to say that you cannot convert a used Epson printer to sublimation printer, but it can be a messy and awkward process.
A new Epson printer will have never been filled with normal ink, so there is no problem with contamination into the sublimation ink.
You will then need sublimation ink. This is not the same as normal printing ink, and the two should never be mixed. Sublimation ink comes in the same colors as ordinary ink, however, so the tanks will be marked for these colors.
Finally, you will need sublimation paper or transfer paper. This is specialist one-sided paper used to transfer the printed image to a chosen material, such as clothing or ceramics.
How To Convert An Epson EcoTank Printer
A brand-new Epson Eco Tank printer straight out of the box will need to be carefully unpacked before use.
Make sure that you remove all the tape on the printer that is used to protect it during transport.
You will need to check inside the cover, the trays and most importantly on the inside of the printer.
If this tape is not removed, then it could cause damage to the printer heads.
Any ink that comes with an Epson EcoTank printer will not be suitable for sublimation printing. For this you will need to buy specialist ink.
There are usually six tanks for the ink, cyan, magenta, yellow, black, photo black and gray.
The setup instructions on the printer screen will prompt you to begin the initializing procedure. It will then tell you to fill the ink tanks.
Make sure that you are filling the correct cartridge with the corresponding color ink.
Lift the printer cover to access the ink tanks. Open the cover of the first ink tank. Remove the cap from the ink bottle and invert the bottle over the ink tank.
It should sit comfortably. Keep an eye on the level of ink going in to avoid overfilling. Repeat this process for each color.
Once all the ink tanks are full, the printer will prompt you to start ink charging and initialize the system.
This should only take a few minutes. You will then be asked to align the printer and perform a print head nozzle check.
For this, you will need to load some regular copy paper. Once printed, confirm that you are happy with the alignment and banding results. If not, you may need to run another alignment.
When you have all the physical processes completed on the conversion of your Epson EcoTank you will need to go to the Epson website and download the drivers necessary for your new printer.
Make sure it is connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your computer.
It is recommended that you use a color profile to achieve more accurate colors on your printing. This is normally sent to you when you purchase the sublimation inks.
This profile is not the same as the color profile that comes with the printer, which is designed for normal ink and copy paper.
Converting A Used Epson EcoTank Printer For Sublimation
If you want to use an existing Epson EcoTank for sublimation printing, then you need to remove all the existing ink and replace it with sublimation ink. This is easier said than done.
In essence, you will need to turn the printer upside down and drain all the ink out.
However, before you do that, you need to check that the printer is working properly. Carry out a print head nozzle check to make sure there are no defects or problems with the printing quality.
Now unplug and physically turn the printer upside down, placing a container underneath the ink tanks. Open the tank covers and allow the ink to drain out.
You may need to do this a few times, each time righting the printer and then inverting it again.
When you have gotten all the ink out, you can replace it with sublimation ink. However, you should immediately carry out a power clean to flush the lines through.
How To Convert An Epson Desktop Ink Cartridge Printer
Converting an Epson desktop ink cartridge printer such as the Epson Workforce is a lot easier if you have already being using it for regular paper printing.
This is because you can simply swap the ink cartridges in the printer for refillable cartridges filled with sublimation ink.
If you are using a brand new Epson ink cartridge printer you should set it up with the regular cartridges installed and once you have checked that everything is working, then you can swap in the refillable cartridges with your sublimation ink.
To fill the cartridge with the sublimation ink, open the plug at the front of the cartridge.
Take the lid off the ink bottle and pierce the foil seal with the syringe that is supplied with the refill kit. Fill the syringe and then empty it into the refillable cartridge. Repeat for all the colors.
Lift the scanner unit to expose the printer cartridges. Remove them and replace with the refillable cartridges.
Make sure they are all in their correct positions. Close the printer and allow it to go through the initialization process.
Occasionally, the printer may not recognize the refillable cartridges and give you an error message.
If this happens, go through the replacement process again, removing the cartridge flagged as unrecognized and re-fitting it. This should rectify the issue.
Put some regular copy paper in the tray and run a print head nozzle check to make sure all the colors are coming through. When you are happy with the results, you can load your sublimation paper.
So there you have it. If you want to carry out sublimation printing as a hobby or a small business, you can now do this without having the expense of a specific sublimation printer. We hope this guide has helped you to work through the process.
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