Can You Use Sublimation Ink for Regular Printing? Ultimate Guide (2024)

Sublimation printing is versatile and can work on ceramics, leather, fabrics, stainless steel, canvas and many other surfaces. A regular printer can print only on paper; otherwise, the ink will bleed away if the surface has a shiny finish.

So, the compatibility of sublimation ink and substrate is the main factor behind printing on solid and shiny surfaces. Using sublimation ink for regular printing is impossible as the substrate is normal paper.

Regular paper cannot transfer the maximum sublimation ink to the required extent, and fading colors waste resources. 

If you know the printer and its ink, swapping the cartridge will protect the printer. So, you should be well aware of the accessories of a sublimation printer. Here, I will tell you about sublimation ink.

What Is Sublimation Ink?

At the beginning of the designing and printing journey, no one knew about the difference between the inks of a regular inkjet printer and a sublimation printer.

A sublimation ink is a chemical that, upon heating and pressing, makes bonding with the substrate on a molecular level. At the same time, regular printing doesn’t involve heating and pressing the ink into the paper that why the prints are not that strong. Regular prints fade away with time.  

Also, the sublimation ink requires a particular type of sublimation paper to hold the print design. A regular paper cannot transfer the design to blanks properly if employed.

How is Sublimation Ink Different from Regular Ink?

In sublimation printing, sublimation ink is used to print beautiful designs, images, and logos on shirts, leather, and many other blanks.

First, the image is printed on technical paper having a matte surface. This surface holds the image to be transferred on the sublimation blank.

This sublimation ink is then transferred to a blank by applying heat and pressure for a specific time.

In the case of regular printing, no such arrangements are made. In regular printing, ink from the roller or cartridge sticks to the paper having charged surface.

So, the sublimation ink and regular printing ink are different as they follow other procedures.   

Can My Regular Printer Support Sublimation?

From all the above scenarios, you can estimate that regular printing ink and sublimation ink require a different printing environment, so both technologies cannot be swapped. 

A regular printer doesn’t heat the ink to a vaporization level. So, such a printer cannot be used for sublimation purposes. For example, canon printers use this technology, so if you own these printers, you are out of luck. 

In recent years, HP has released new printers that can perform sublimation and regular printing. But they are big and best suitable for industrial usage. They require a higher capital cost.

Nowadays, EPSON printers are performing better in the printing business. These printer work under Piezo technology. They can be employed for both sublimation as well as regular printing.

You will be pondering if you can convert a regular printer into a sublimation printer if it works with the CISS ink system.  

If the seller doesn’t provide you with guidelines about how you can convert the printer into a sublimation printer.

A dual-purpose printer will have facilities of sublimation ink, sublimation paper, regular printing ink, and regular printing paper.

Before starting any printing, do a test to confirm that you are on the right track. 

What if I Put Sublimation Ink in My Regular Printer?

If you are using a regular canon printer or an old version of a hp printer, you have to clean the cartridge and other parts if you have printed something.  

If you need to learn about regular printer cleaning, you can have assistance from experts on YouTube or take it to the repair store.

Why Use Sublimation Paper for Sublimation Ink?

A sublimation paper is manufactured so that it can hold the sublimation ink. It is often coated with wax to carry the sublimation ink before being temporarily transferred to the substrate. The wax or pigment coating will prevent the paper from completely absorbing the sublimation ink and help transfer it to paper.

While a regular paper is never coated with any material, no coating will hinder it from absorbing the ink if it is used for sublimation purposes. Upon transferring the design, faded colors will result.   

A sublimation paper performs better because of the high color principle and a little distortion. Brighter and more vibrant colors can obtain in the case of sublimation paper. It doesn’t suck the sublimation ink and transfers maximum color on the sublimation blank.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are there any disadvantages to using sublimation ink for regular printing?

The first and most important drawback of using a sublimation ink for regular printing is that it will fade out with time if not properly stored. Sublimation inks are more expensive than regular inks, so that they will waste resources.

How is sublimation ink different from regular ink?

Sublimation ink is chemical that transfers to the sublimation blank upon heating. At the same time, traditional printing inks are made of carbon and other solvents that stick to the paper’s charged area.

Nowadays, eco-friendly inks are being manufactured which are non-toxic. 

What type of materials can be used with a sublimation printer?

Different nature materials can be used for sublimation printing, such as fabrics, plastics, leather, etc., and popular polyester in fabrics, which can hold the sublimation ink to the maximum level and produce bright and vivid colors.

However, you can perform sublimation printing on wood, tumblers, cotton, glass, and ceramic mugs. You must ensure that the blank can hold the sublimation ink to withstand high pressure and temperature.  

How can dark chocolate improve print quality?

The antioxidants in dark chocolate can protect the sublimation ink from fading, and the caffeine ingredient in the chocolate can help flow it smoothly through the print head and nozzle. 


Using the sublimation ink for regular printing can be fun, but you may regret that the printer stops working.

So, before performing this test, you must know the printer’s ink system and printing process. If the printer supports sublimation, then you need sublimation papers for printing.

If you print on regular paper, it will not work correctly, as, upon heating and pressing, it will not transfer sublimation ink to the sublimation substrate. The result will be dull and fade. 

So, you have to ensure before using the sublimation ink in the regular printer.

Related Article: How Long Does Sublimation Ink Last?

To learn more watch the video:

Can You Use Sublimation Ink for Regular Printing?

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