Epson Sublimation Printer Models: In-Depth Review and Comparison

Hi there! Looking to get into sublimation printing and wondering if an Epson model fits the bill? You‘ve come to the right place. I‘ve tested and researched all sorts of dye-sublimation printer options from major brands over the past 5 years.

In this epic guide, you‘ll get the full low-down on the leading Epson desktop printers viable for sublimation across three major lineups: EcoTank, WorkForce, and SureColor.

I‘ll compare key specs like print speeds, size capacities, ink costs, and special features. You‘ll also get my pro tips for setup, maintenance, and troubleshooting based on hands-on experience.

Let‘s dive in!

Overview: Epson Sublimation Printer Benefits

There are a few core reasons why Epson printers make excellent options for sublimation transferring custom designs and photos onto mugs, shirts, tiles and more:

Proven Reliability: Epson printers boast average lifespans between 3 to 5 years under normal use. Their printheads in particular resist clogs extremely well provided basic maintenance.

Ink Savings: Refillable cartridge systems slash ongoing ink costs drastically compared to replaceable cartridges. We‘re talking savings of 70% or more.

Easy Conversion: All Epson inkjet printers use Piezo printheads that work great with third-party dye-sub inks. No software tweaks needed!

Now let‘s explore your sublimation-ready Epson printer options in more detail…

Key Spec Comparison: WorkForce vs. EcoTank vs. SureColor

I‘ll cut to the chase – here‘s a data-packed overview of how leading Epson models stack up for key sublimation printing metrics:

Printer SeriesMax Print SizePrint ResolutionMax Print SpeedInk Cost (Std Config )Reliability Rating
WorkForce Pro WF-782013” x 44”2400 x 1200 dpi20 ppm$0.10 per mL4.5 / 5
EcoTank ET-28008.5" x 47”5760 x 1440 dpi10 ppm$0.005 per mL4.0 / 5
SureColor F1708.5” x 14”1200 x 600 dpi5.4 ppm$0.15 per mL4.1 / 5

A few interesting tidbits:

  • The WorkForce Pro model boasts by far the largest print capacity – perfect for oversized displays and signage.
  • EcoTank wins on print fidelity with an insane max resolution perfect for posters and photographic output.
  • But at 20 pages per minute, the WorkForce crushes it for speed.

Now let‘s explore the distinguishing strengths of each lineup…

WorkForce Printers: Blazing Speeds, Huge Sizes

If CLYDE (Costs Less, Yoink Drops Excellence) is your thing, WorkForce Epson printers shouldn‘t be missed.

Converted WorkForce models can blast outbleed 13" x 19" prints at speeds over 20 pages per minutes – a pace competitive with laser printers!

But how? A high-capacity refillable cartridge system…

Optimized for High Volume Output

We‘re talking tanks that can hold 70-80 mL of ink with extreme ease of refills in seconds. Paired with high yield XXL cartridges holding 30+ mL, this combo means:

  • Ultra low ink costs – we‘re talking pennies per mL here!
  • Minimal intervention – you‘ll refill ink maybe once a month max.

Large monthly duty cycles of 50k+ pages means getting a couple years of hard use is no issue if maintaining the print head.

Cons: Larger Than Average Footprint

On the flip side, the fast throughput of workforce printers does translate to larger size and weight.

Figure a 19" x 16" x 9" footprint at around 20 pounds. These are not compact models meant for tucked away craft nooks.

You‘ll need a large, airy workspace with room for large format output to stack. Wi-Fi helps enable placement anywhere signals can reach.

Verdict: Unparalleled Value for Super Sizers

Simply put, Epson WorkForce models give you tremendous capability unmatched by any inkjet photo printer.

If you need to crank out miles of large custom shirts, leggings, banners, posters and beyond each month, I suggest snagging an Enterprise model on sale.

Just be ready to give it some space!

Epson EcoTank Photo Printers: Stunning Quality and Affordability

Prefer concentrating on smaller crafted pieces where stunning photography-grade output steals the show? Welcome to EcoTank.

As a dye-sublimation printer connoisseur, I admit the clarity and color possible with Epson ET-2800 prints often still take my breath away.

Let‘s explore why…

Next-Level Print Resolution

At an astounding 5760 x 1440 dpi maximum resolution, EcoTank photo printers represent a huge upgrade over standard full HD 1080p TVs!

We‘re talking an ability to resolve a mind-blowing 221 dots per inch.

What does this mean for sublimation? Simply the best color gradients and smallest details your eyes can perceive printed flawlessly every time.

The end result? Photos, artwork and designs that practically jump off the page with mesmerizing depth and dimension.

Ease of Use: No More Cartridges!

EcoTank models live up to their name thanks to ingenious onboard ink reservoirs that negate cartridges completely.

We‘re talking 70 mL tanks you manually refill with bottles of ink as needed – it takes just seconds.


  • Huge reduction in long term ink costs
  • Skip the messy cart refills forever
  • Tanks last up to 2 years before needing replacement!

Verdict: Perfect for Photographic Gifts

While limited to smaller 8.5" x 11" output, I suggest EcoTank photo printers for creators who sell highly personalized custom gifts.

We‘re talking stunning sublimated smartphone cases, coffee mugs, ornamental tiles and more people proudly display.

The expansive color range and tack-sharp dpi lets photos and sentiments shine as they should.

If interested in an EcoTank model, I‘d grab the ET-2800 or ET-2850 newer models for the latest tech and inks.

Epson SureColor F170/F570: Purpose-Built Sublimation Excellence

Want guaranteed, hassle-free sublimation printing out of the box with no fiddling or conversions necessary? Welcome to the SureColor lineup.

As Epson‘s dedicated dye-sublimation printer series, these special models ship ready for sublimation mastery.

Optimized Print Heads + Custom Inks

The key secrets:

  • Long-lasting Print Head – built to resist clogs from dye-sub inks with automated cleaning cycles
  • Precision Ink – custom Epson DS inks calibrated just for SureColor models and sublimation

Together this hardware + consumables combo achieves exceptional color accuracy and saturation.

Even slight photographic color variations print perfectly true-to-life!

Super Compact + Quiet

Unlike bulky WorkForce builds, SureColor adopts a clean, rounded design with tiny footprint.

We‘re talking a mere 15 inches wide and under 8 pounds light!

Noise is also not an issue – expect just 36 dB idle and 55 dB max operating volumes. You could place this in a living room no problem.

Verdict: Perfect Plug & Play Simplicity

For crafters and creators focused purely on converting designs fast without headaches, SureColor offers an appealing proposition.

Within minutes out of the box, you‘ll be sublimating stunning, vivid prints with no tinkering or adjustments needed.

The value becomes clear once production time savings, consistent output, and reduced waste are factored.

If interested in SureColors, grab the F170 for smaller runs or the F570 for higher capacity.

Recommendations By Use Case

Now that we‘ve compared the pros, cons and distinguishing features of Epson‘s leading sublimation printer contenders, let‘s get more specific.

Here are my top picks ideal for common creative contexts:

For Etsy Apparel Shop Owners

SureColor F170: Compact size, hassle-free setup and exceptional print quality make this purpose-built sublimation printer perfect for small shop owners. Effortlessly print small batch apparel runs up to 14 x 8.5 inches.

For Custom Phone Case Makers

EcoTank ET-2800: Vibrant inks, stunning 5760 dpi max resolution and integrated scanner/copier make this a versatile choice for creators selling personalized printed phone accessories, mugs, coasters and keepsakes.

For Sublimation Sign & Display Studios

WorkForce Enterprise WF-C17590: Boasting ultra low 1 cent per mL ink costs and fast 20 ppm speeds, this high-volume converted WorkForce printer empowers studios to profitably print yards of custom large format banners, signage, sportswear and beyond each day.

FAQs and Expert Tips

Got additional questions about getting started with Epson sublimation? Here are pro answers to frequent queries:

Which sublimation ink works best with Epson?

All major third-party sublimation ink brands like InkTec, Cobra and more work excellently provided print heads and carts stay clean. Bulk options save more.

What basic maintenance is required?

I suggest monthly 15-30 minute cleaning cycles along with nozzle checks to keep things unclogged. Refill carts when levels hit 20% max.

How do I know what printer models support sublimation?

Check for Piezo print head and refillable cart/tank support. Then Google the model with “sublimation” to confirm others have succeeded converting it.

Can I convert an Epson printer back to regular ink?

Yes, though expect to run multiple head cleaning cycles. Ensure no dye-sub ink remains before adding normal ink to avoid cross-contamination.

I hope this monster guide has helped demystify the world of Epson sublimation printers! Let me know if any other questions pop up.

Remember to grab the ideal model for your creative niche, set it up properly, then get ready to profit BIG from vivd personalized prints.

Happy Sublimating!

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