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We are going to go over sublimation supplies in different categories since there are a few different brands of items you can use.
I'll list my favorite products from years of experience, and also other highly rated products, substrates, and blanks.
You can find all of these products on Amazon (I know that's where most of us shop!), but you can also find some of them at your local craft store or even Target or Walmart.
Keep a look out for deals! I rarely ever pay the regular price because craft items always go on sale every few months!
Sublimation Printer and Ink
Probably the biggest price point when starting with sublimation is a sublimation printer. You can not use any printer!
A sublimation printer uses specific sublimation ink that goes through a chemical process of infusing into the base poly material/ coating when high heat is added.
As sublimation keeps rising in popularity, I would bet there will be more printers to come on the market so hopefully, the prices will drop with some competition.
The Epson Ecotanks are very popular as a converted sublimation printer. This means it's actually an inkjet printer, but when sublimation ink is placed in the blank ink cartridges it converts into a printer you can use for sublimation.
This is the printer I use. You will not use the ink that comes with the printer, instead, you need to purchase sublimation ink bottles (listed below) and add those.
Epson printers are the most budget-friendly but the drawback is that they tend to dry out or get clogged. I'm on my second because I didn't use my first one for over 6 months and I couldn't get it to unclog.
So make sure to just print something every week or two just to keep the ink flowing!!
If you go the Ecotank route, you'll need sublimation dye. I use the Hiipoo brand and I love the bottles that they come in. You add the ink directly to the empty cartridges in just a few minutes. The price is under $40.
Sublimation Paper and Small Supplies
Once you have a printer and ink, you'll need sublimation paper. Again, you can't just print on any paper!
When you print on sublimation paper, you'll need to make sure you print on mirror setting if you have any words or directional images. The images will seem dull.
Once you add the heat, the colors turn vibrant and gorgeous!
Then you'll also need a few small supply items like heat-resistant tape, butcher paper (to protect heat presses), and I recommend gloves.
If you plan on making a lot of sublimated shirts or totes to sell, you might want to go for the big guns and get an Autopress.
It is not cheap! You might be able to get it for around $800 on sale but it's pretty amazing.
I love mine and it gives an amazing even press with just the touch. I used to have a heat press, but it always hurt my wrists when locking it, so this super nice to have it open on its own when the timer is up!
I made my family all mouse pads with a picture of all of us on them! I used to buy those kinds of gifts at print shops, but now I can make them myself!
When it comes to the best shirts to sublimate on, you don't really need a specific brand, just material and color.
Since sublimation requires a poly substrate to work, any shirt with higher polyester counts is going to work best. 100% polyester will give you the best results, but you can also sublimate on mixed soft blanks as long as they have a pretty high polyester count.
White or light shirts are always going to produce the most vibrant colors on their own.
I tend to go to Walmart and find a high polyester count shirt that fits well and is soft to use!
There are certain ways to sublimate on dark shirts and cotton shirts but using sublimation spray or on top of heat transfer vinyl.
As you can see, there is a huge range of sublimation supplies to choose from! I hope this post gave you some guidance on where to start and what you’ll need.
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