Can You use Sublimation Ink for Regular Printing?

Printers have become an integral part of the modern world. They occupy space around us from office to studio to homes.

Various types of printers utilize different technologies for their operations. We always want to get the maximum out of our printers to diverse and better results.

In this article, we will try to answer the question: Can you use sublimation ink for regular printing?

The instant answer No. 

We will share supporting details for why you can’t utilize sublimation ink in regular Inkjet printers.

Let’s get started with why we want to use sublimation ink for regular printing.

Why use Sublimation Ink with a Regular Printer?

Sublimation printing is primarily used to imprint designs on stuff other than regular paper. We can impregnate designs of our choice on fabric, wood, aluminium, and even other hard materials through sublimation printing.

While on the other hand, regular Inkjet printers are used to print designs on conventional pieces of paper. So, two different types of printers are supposed to perform distinct functions.

So, ideally, you will need to own a regular and sublimation printer to print designs without hassle on any kind of material. But, we all want to save energy, space, time, and money. So if we own a regular printer, we don’t want to buy another one for sublimation purposes and try to somehow manage the sublimation printing with an Inkjet printer. This attempt then leads to first question, which is the title of this guide.

It is just a human psyche to keep searching for ways to save on things. That is the reason you are probably here.

As we have already answered the question, let’s get insights about hindrances to replacing normal ink with sublimation ink and vice versa.

Differences between Sublimation and Regular Ink

One of the basic supplies needed while starting printing is ink. People get curious about using sublimation and regular ink alternatively in their printer. We can reach a decision point only if we know the difference between the two inks.

The process of printing sublimation ink is based on heating ink into the gas, which is then sprayed onto t-shirts and other coated items, permanently attaching the ink to them.
It makes a difference in the way sublimation ink is used. When you use sublimation ink in a regular printer, it damages the machine. So be cautious with sublimation ink and select a printer that can work with it.

Chemical Composition

Sublimation ink is made differently from normal ink. Typical Inkjet printer ink is made of a major ingredient called pigment. While on the other hand, sublimation ink comprises polymers, vinyl glycol, and many other components.

Two inks composition is polls apart, and hence their purpose and utilization methods are also different. You cannot swap inks between normal and sublimation printers and vice versa.

Operations of Printers

Sublimation printing is not similar to normal inkjet printing. You might have read in your high school physics that sublimation is a phase change process in which a solid is directly converted to gas without converting it into liquid.

Sublimation printers change sublimation ink from solid to the gaseous state. Regular printers transfer designs through a print layer. If you use sublimation ink in regular printing, it will be a complete failure.  Sublimation ink might damage both copy paper and printer.

Sublimation Ink supports printing of light and dull colors. You cannot print very bright colors on dark-colored materials with sublimation ink. Inkjet printer ink is diverse, and you can print on diverse colors. It denotes that you will need two different printers according to your requirements.

Material limitation

Sublimation ink is transferred to materials that have high contents of polymers. It is because of the reason that polymer is one of the basic ingredients of sublimation ink. It does not support printing on papers or materials not rich in polymer. So, you cannot just go and print with sublimation ink on the type of material you want to.

Usage of limited and different materials to print on with sublimation ink is one of the many constraints.

Printing Method Compatibility

When determining if you can utilize sublimation ink for conventional printing, keep in mind that the printing method is the primary distinction between compatible and non-compatible printers.

The ink that is not sublimated does not reach the vaporization point when printed with conventional thermal technology. This can lead to leaks into your printer. Printers that use conventional thermal technology include Canon printers. Therefore, iyou’re out of luck f you own a Canon printer.

Final Words

If you want to experiment with printing, it may be fun to use sublimation ink, but there’s a high chance your printer won’t work with it. You might end up damaging your print by using it for the wrong purposes. Sublimation ink can only be used with specialty sublimation paper and sublimation printers. The regular copy paper will just burn away with sublimation ink. Another biggest constraint is that sublimation ink is dull, and printed design will quickly fade after normal printing.

We can conclude that a printer designed to print with pigment will create a mess out of sublimation ink.

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