Can You Use Sublimation Ink For Regular Printing?

Kyle Adam
Kyle Adam
Founder at - Printers Guider

Kyle Adam is a printer technician and the founder of this site. After completing his graduation in Computer Science and Engineering, he started work for...Read more

Can you replace the regular ink cartridge with sublimation inks? It is a common query assuming that you are out of normal dye printing ink and have Sublimation ink on hand. Again, due to the superior printing quality of Sublimation ink over dye inks, you might be curious to know: can you use sublimation ink for regular printing?

But in reality, sublimation ink cannot be used directly for regular printing in most cases. Several factors are responsible for sublimed printing that a standard printer cannot meet effectively.

You must know the basic requirements if you are into printing works or want something printed with sublimation inks. This article will cover all the aspects regarding sublimation and regular printing works.

What Is So Special About Sublimation Ink?

Sublimation inks are quite different from regular dye ink. It is a water-based ink. The adherence quality of sublimation ink is relatively higher than other dye inks used in standard printers.

Furthermore, sublimation inks are very vibrant and have higher exposure, producing colorful images on the printing surface. This type of ink has a strong bond with the printing surface, lasting longer than usual inks.

How Do Sublimation Inks Works?

Sublimation ink follows a special route while being printed on a surface. In the printing process, sublimation inks are converted directly to the gaseous phase without being initially converted to liquid.

How Do Sublimation Inks Works

A specific amount of heat, temperature, and pressure is required to do this. The entire sublimation printing process takes place in two parts. In the first part, a design is printed on sublimation paper using a sublimation printer and ink.

The sublimation ink creates a temporary bond with the specially made sublimation paper. It holds the ink firmly for the time being.

Heat and pressure are applied when a target fabric or product is placed under the sublimation paper. The heat loosens the ink from the sublimation paper and gets absorbed by the open pores of the fabric.

Types of Sublimation Ink

There are mainly two types of sublimation inks. These are aqueous (water-based) dye sublimation ink and Solvent sublimation dye ink.

Water-Based Sublimation Ink

Aqueous sublimation inks are used for higher formats and desktops for larger projects such as printing on light-colored textiles.

Solvent-based Sublimation Ink

In Solvent-based sublimation ink, the color pigments are suspended in oil. Solvent inks are water-resistant, which makes them protected from getting faded. Besides, it is comparatively cheaper than that aqueous sublimation ink.

Can You Use Sublimation Ink For Regular Printing?

In short, the answer is No. You cannot use sublimation ink for regular printing. Sublimation ink cartridges are not compatible with the ink cartridges of a regular printer.

Can You Use Sublimation Ink For Regular Printing

Although using some modifications and some modern regular printers can accommodate sublimation inks. But the result of the printed work won’t be satisfactory. It would fade the printed color shades. Its color gradient won’t come in sharp as expected.

Most importantly, a special sublimation printer is required for using sublimation ink. These printers must be inkjet printers. Laser printers won’t work with such types of ink.

There is a good chance that you may damage your regular printer color sensors using the sublimation inks. Additionally, a special type of paper is required to get the best result from a sublimation ink.

These are called sublimation papers. That is why it is highly recommended to use certified sublimation paper and sublimation printer to get a good quality design or illustration.

Is It Worth Using Sublimation Ink For Regular Printing?

You can do the project of using sublimation ink on a regular printer and paper by performing some DIYs. But it is not worth it for many crucial reasons. Let’s see the reason behind-


Inkjet printers only support the sublimation inks. The color sensing algorithms in the ink cartridges are very sensitive. Using sublimation ink in a normal printer can cause damage to the color sensors.

Because the ink fails to reach the vaporization point and can leak into your printer.

Unexpected Result

You won’t be getting a lively and vibrant color from a regular printer and on normal paper by using sublimation inks. It will result in very poor quality of design or illustration on fabrics.

Wastage of Ink

Since sublimation inks are not very budget-friendly, the used inks in regular printing will only result in a waste of inks.

What Is The Difference Between Sublimation Ink And Regular Ink?

It is obvious that sublimation inks are made differently compared to regular dye inks. So what makes it so different between these two inks types. Let us find out.

What Is The Difference Between Sublimation Ink And Regular Ink


Dye inks are often available in different colors, making them ideal for decorative or artistic purposes. It can generate bright colors due to its small molecular size (1.5-4 nanometers).

But Sublimation inks are used mostly for custom fabric printing for making clothes. The true color output depends on the printing surface.


Regular dye ink adheres well to regular paper, print paper, and any suitable medium. In comparison, sublimation inks get posted effectively only on the sublimation paper.

Water Proof

Dye sublimation ink is water-resistant. Because of the high-temperature treatment, the ink does not fade. On the other hand, sublimated items will not crack, peel, or wash away easily.

Whereas ordinary dye inks are not water-resistant. Water or extreme heat can degrade the quality of ordinary printed objects.

Printing Cost

A benefit of utilizing dye ink is that it is less expensive than other inks, such as pigment ink. Whereas sublimation inks are very expensive and naturally increase the unit printing cost.

Printer and accessory compatibility

To print using sublimation ink, it is mandatory to use a specific Sublimation inkjet Printer and paper. Heat is used to pressurize the ink into a gas, which attaches to the cloth or paper and adheres to it firmly.

There is no hard and fast rule for regular dye inks. It can be used on most printing surfaces. Besides, regular dye inks can be used in both inkjet and laser printers.

Things To Consider While Printing With Sublimation Ink

Sublimation inks are not suitable for all types of surfaces which is a major reason you cannot use them for regular printing. These are some mandatory things you should keep in mind while printing with sublimation ink:

  • Sublimation printing is done mostly for textile/fabric designing.
  • The background of the clothing must be white or light-colored.
  • A special sublimation paper is required to carry the printout from the sublimation printer.
  • Before printing, you should make the target design a mirror image as the paper must be turned upside down while printing on fabric.
  • The fabric must have higher polyester content for sublimation printing.
  • Pure cotton, silk, and other textiles with no Polyester cannot be used for sublimation printing.

Frequently Asked Questions

You may go through the following questionnaires to know more about sublimation ink usage. This will help you understand the correct printing criteria using sublimation ink and regular inks.

Can You Use Sublimation Paper in Any Printer?

Not all printers can receive sublimation papers. Sublimation paper is an ink-absorbing and preserving printing paper. Sublimation paper releases ink onto the surface when heated and placed on a blank surface (such as a polyester fabric). Hence, only certified Sublimation printers can use the sublimation papers.

Can You Use Sublimation Ink on Any Material?

Sublimation ink can be used on any printing surface. But the ink’s true color, vibrancy, and quality can only be ensured when the printing is done on sublimation paper. Moreover, you cannot use any common printing material to retain the design in sublimation ink for fabric printing.

What Happens if You Sublimate on Cotton?

If you try to seal sublimation prints onto pure cotton, the sublimation will wash out. This is due to the inability of the artificial sublimation dye to bind with all cotton fabrics chemically. However, cotton can be sublimated by generating a synthetic layer on the upper edge of the textile.


Sublimation ink may look like a good thing to experiment with, but it won’t work with any standard printers. So, it is unlikely that you can use sublimation ink for regular printing.

Using the sublimation ink for regular printing work unknowingly can damage your standard printer. Moreover, the amount of ink used for printing would become a loss.

Since it is strictly recommended to use a specific sublimation printer and paper with sublimation ink, using other printers should be prohibited.

Kyle Adam is a printer technician and the founder of this site. After completing his graduation in Computer Science and Engineering, he started work for a renowned printer manufacturing company as a printer technician. Besides his job, he also loves to do research and write about what he is dealing with in his everyday life; Printersguider is the result of that. Kyle created this site to educate those who need a specialized printer but don’t have proper knowledge about it.

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