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So you want to convert your Brother printer for sublimation projects? Look no further as you’re in the right place! This straightforward guide will lead you through the necessary steps of how to convert Brother printer to sublimation, ensuring you’re ready to produce professional-level prints right from your home or studio. Get ready to unlock the full potential of your printer and dive into the world of sublimation printing. Without further ado, let’s get into it!

Key Takeaways

  • Brother printers, especially models like the MFC-J995DW, can be used for sublimation printing despite challenges like ink compatibility and a lack of manufacturer support for non-genuine cartridges.
  • To convert a Brother printer for sublimation, you’ll need compatible sublimation inks, refillable cartridges or adapters, a chip resetter, and potentially purge fluid or cleaning cartridges to clean the print head.
  • After converting your Brother printer to sublimation, it’s crucial to adjust printer settings for best performance, perform regular maintenance, and use suitable substrates for quality, long-lasting prints.

Understanding Brother Printers and Sublimation

Brother printers are known for their reliability and quality, but did you know they have a secret superpower? They employ Piezo print technology, a prerequisite for sublimation printing. Sublimation printing, for the uninitiated, is a process that uses heat to transfer dye onto materials like fabrics, card, or plastic. The result? High-quality, fade-resistant prints that last a lifetime!

However, Brother printers are somewhat like the unsung heroes of the sublimation world. Despite their compatibility with sublimation inks, they’re not widely recommended for sublimation use. This is primarily due to the challenges in finding suitable sublimation inks and a lack of manufacturer support. An exception here is the Brother MFC-J995DW, which has received some positive feedback for sublimation, yet it’s not widely recommended for this purpose.

What makes Brother printers worth considering for sublimation? The answer lies in the possibilities they offer. If you’re willing to navigate around the challenges, Brother printers can be a part of your sublimation journey, opening a world of possibilities for creating vibrant, durable prints on a variety of materials.

Challenges with Brother Printers

While Brother printers have the potential to be used for sublimation printing, it’s not without its hurdles. One of the key challenges is the compatibility with certain sublimation inks. Some users have reported failed sublimation on materials like polyester when not using inks tailored to their Brother printers’ systems.

Another concern is related to the use of heat. Despite the similar piezo print heads like those in Epson printers, there is uncertainty about how the use of heat in Brother printers might affect sublimation ink performance. Additionally, the manufacturer discourages the use of non-genuine or refilled ink cartridges, posing a challenge for sublimation printing that requires special inks. The limited adoption of Brother printers for sublimation has also resulted in limited support and availability of specialized inks and color profiles from vendors.

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But don’t worry, with the right approach and a bit of patience, these challenges can be overcome.

Necessary Tools and Supplies for Conversion

Black, blue and yellow ink bottles in a row

Having made the decision to take on this exciting sublimation journey with your Brother printer, there are some necessary tools and supplies you’ll need for the conversion. First and foremost, you’ll need a set of sublimation inks compatible with your specific model of the Brother printer.

Next on your list should be refillable cartridges or appropriate cartridge adapters. These are required for Brother printers without built-in ink tanks to hold the sublimation ink. In some cases, you might also need a chip resetter. This handy tool resets the cartridge chips to allow the printer to recognize the newly filled refillable cartridges or the new ink levels.

Last but not least, don’t forget about purge fluid or cleaning cartridges. These can be used to clean out the old ink from the Brother printer before you can start your sublimation printing journey. With these tools and supplies, you’re all set to kick off your printer conversion!

Preparing Your Brother Printer

Prior to initiating the conversion process, it’s vital to get your Brother printer ready. Start by ensuring the printer is turned off, batteries are removed if present, and the AC power adapter is disconnected.

Next, clean the print head using a cotton swab moistened with isopropyl rubbing alcohol[1], or for a simpler method, use the optional print head cleaning cassette (TZe-CL4). Be careful not to touch the print head directly with your hands; it’s the white ceramic piece with gold traces.

Now, it’s time to remove the regular ink cartridges. Follow these steps:

  1. With the printer powered on, open the ink cartridge cover.
  2. Use the green knob to unlock each cartridge before pulling it out.
  3. Once you’ve removed all the necessary cartridges, securely close the ink cartridge cover to avoid any damage or exposure to the interior of the printer.

Your Brother printer is now ready for the transformation, just like most Brother printers!

Installing Sublimation Ink and Cartridges

Ink being transferred from a syringe

Following the printer preparation, your next move in this sublimation journey is to install the sublimation ink and cartridges. Create a clean workspace with tissue paper or a cloth to absorb any spills, and put on latex gloves to keep your hands ink-free.

Start by locating the refill holes on the Brother ink cartridges. You can remove the rubber plugs with a small screwdriver to access them for refilling. Then, carefully inject the sublimation ink into each cartridge’s appropriate refill hole. Be mindful not to overfill and clean up any excess ink immediately.

Once you’ve filled the empty cartridges with the sublimation ink, make sure to reinsert the rubber plugs securely into the refill holes. This will prevent any leaks and ensure your printer is ready for the next steps of the conversion process.

Adjusting Printer Settings and Profiles

A computer screen portraying settings

Once you’ve set up the sublimation ink and cartridges, the subsequent step involves tweaking your printer settings and profiles for the best possible sublimation printing. This begins with installing ICC profiles, which ensure accurate color reproduction when using sublimation inks. Installing an ICC profile involves right-clicking on the .icc or .icm file and selecting ‘Install Profile’ on a PC. On a Mac, place the file in the ‘Profiles’ folder, and then select the profile in the printer dialog box settings.

Next, adjust your print settings:

  • Set paper quality to premium presentation paper matte
  • Set print quality to high
  • Ensure color printing is enabled
  • Disable two-sided printing
  • Uncheck high speed in printer settings
  • Check the mirror image option, which is essential for sublimation printing.

Finally, perform manual color corrections by adjusting settings such as brightness, contrast, and saturation. Use the slider bars for cyan, magenta, and yellow to fine-tune color balance. It’s also a good idea to create and save custom printer presets for different types of sublimation printing jobs, like fabrics or hard substrates, to streamline the printing process.

Testing Your Converted Brother Printer

A lab where a robotic arm is conducting experiments

Upon configuring your Brother printer for sublimation printing, it’s of utmost importance to run a test. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Conduct a print test and if streaks or gaps are present, run a cleaning cycle.
  2. To ensure the best print quality, regularly perform a nozzle check.
  3. If there are gaps or uneven lines, initiate a print head cleaning cycle.

Remember, sublimation ink should look dull and off-colored on paper before pressing. Vibrant colors may indicate it’s not true dye sublimation ink. For accurate color output, sublimate a printed color chart onto 100% polyester fabric, adjusting press times and pressure as necessary, and using high-quality dye sub ink.

Address substrate-related quality issues by confirming material suitability, adjusting heat and time settings, and removing any protective films. If you’re experiencing ghosting or blurred images, secure the paper with heat-resistant tape, and ensure the heat press has the right pressure and temperature.[2]

Maintaining Your Converted Brother Printer

After the successful conversion and testing of your Brother printer, it’s critical to regularly maintain it for long-term functionality. Keep it dust and lint-free by regularly wiping it down with a microfiber cloth.

Running regular maintenance of inkjet printers, including cleaning cycles using quality inks, will prevent nozzle clogs and banding. Additionally, engaging the printer at least weekly can prevent sublimation ink from drying and clogging the print heads, especially in warm, dry climates or areas with high indoor heat.

When refilling sublimation ink tanks, open the cover only as long as necessary and refill slowly to avoid introducing air bubbles and dust into the ink reservoir. These maintenance tips will help ensure your Brother printer’s longevity and consistent print quality.

Tips for Successful Sublimation Printing with a Brother Printer

A workshop consisting of a sublimation printer and ink bottles on shelves

Prepared to commence creating vibrant, long-lasting prints with your newly converted Brother printer? Here are some tips to help you along the way.

First, remember that a heat press is required to transfer the sublimation print from the paper onto the substrate. Adjust the heat press settings for temperature and time according to the material specifications.

Work in a well-ventilated area when operating a heat press machine to avoid inhaling potentially harmful vapors emitted during the heating process. Also, using butcher paper between the substrate and the heat press can prevent ink transfer to the press or mat, and prevent shifting of the sublimation paper to avoid ghosting or blurring of the image.

Remember to use only materials that are suitable for sublimation prints and keep in mind that colors will appear dull and faded on prints but enhance significantly after pressing.

Finally, perform test transfers before sublimating with a Brother printer to ensure optimal results on the final products.

Alternative Options for Sublimation Printing

A sign reading ‘Alternatives’ on a highway and arrow pointing left

Although the process of converting a Brother printer for sublimation printing can be rewarding, you might want to consider other options if you seek a more direct approach. One such option is the Brother sublimation printer, which offers a compact design and user-friendly setup, making it a convenient option for home use and perfect for those looking into sublimation printers and brother sublimation.

In addition to Brother, Epson offers both dedicated and convertible sublimation printer options, including the popular Epson printer models. The Epson SureColor F170 is specifically designed for sublimation use, while the Epson EcoTank and Workforce series can be adapted for sublimation needs. These Epson printers strike a balance between high-resolution printing capabilities and cost-effectiveness, making them a popular choice for those venturing into sublimation printing.


Converting a Brother printer into a sublimation printer might seem like a daunting task, but with the right knowledge and tools, it’s entirely achievable. We’ve covered everything from understanding the compatibility of Brother printers with sublimation inks, to the necessary tools for conversion, and even how to maintain your converted printer.

Whether you’re a hobbyist looking to add a personal touch to your creations or a business owner seeking to diversify your product range, sublimation printing offers a world of possibilities. With patience, a bit of trial and error, and the guidance provided in this blog post, we believe you’re well-equipped to begin your sublimation printing journey with a Brother printer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you turn any printer into a sublimation printer?

Yes, you can convert your regular printer into a sublimation printer by replacing the ink with sublimation ink, but you won’t be able to use regular ink afterward.

Can Brother MFC j1205w be used for sublimation?

No, the Brother MFCJ1205W does not support sublimation ink, and you would need to use regular ink cartridges for this printer.

What tools do I need to convert a Brother printer to a sublimation printer?

You’ll need compatible sublimation inks, refillable cartridges or adapters, a chip resetter, and purge fluid or cleaning cartridges to convert your Brother printer to a sublimation printer. Good luck with your project!

How should I maintain my converted Brother printer?

To maintain your converted Brother printer, keep it dust-free, perform regular maintenance on printer heads, engage the printer weekly to prevent ink from drying, and refill ink tanks carefully to avoid introducing air bubbles and dust. Regular maintenance will help ensure its longevity.

Are there alternatives to converting a Brother printer for sublimation printing?

Yes, you can consider the Brother SP1 or options from Epson like the SureColor F170 or EcoTank and Workforce series for sublimation printing. Consider looking into these alternatives for your printing needs.


  1. Bhagavan, N., & Ha, C. (2011). Case studies and enrichment references. In Elsevier eBooks (pp. 527–562). https://doi.org/10.1016/b978-0-12-095461-2.00038-2
  2. L, M. (2023b, December 20). Michael L on LinkedIn: How to fix ghosting with sublimation printing? – Sublimation Printers HUB. https://www.linkedin.com/posts/michael-sublimationprintershub_how-to-fix-ghosting-with-sublimation-printing-activity-7143302330325598208-R0rM/
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