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If you are wondering “can you convert a sublimation printer back to regular ink”? You have arrived at the right place. This comprehensive article answers your main concern promptly and provides a practical overview of the necessary steps for a successful conversion. Transitioning from sublimation to regular ink isn’t straightforward and comes with its set of complications. But fret not! We’ll explore what’s involved, the risks, and how to mitigate them, giving you a clear pathway to adjust your printer setup as needed. Stay with us as we explore the sublimation world!

Key Takeaways

  • Converting a sublimation printer back to regular ink is possible but involves risks such as clogging and damaging print heads, which requires a careful and informed process including thorough cleaning and adjustments.
  • Separate printers for sublimation and regular ink use may be more beneficial, offering cost savings, increased efficiency, and optimal printing results without the need for frequent maintenance and conversion processes.
  • Careful consideration of one’s printing needs, including print volume, tasks, and total cost of ownership, is important when choosing the right printer or deciding whether to convert an existing printer.

Understanding Sublimation Printers and Regular Printers

Two black printers side by side on a desk

Discussing printers often brings two types to the forefront: sublimation printers and regular inkjet printers. Each is purposed differently and utilizes distinct processes to produce prints. What sets them apart? Let’s explore their distinguishing features.

What is a Sublimation Printer?

A sublimation printer is a specialized machine designed for transferring photographs and detailed multi-color designs onto a variety of materials through sublimation printing. To ensure optimal performance, it is essential to use sublimation ink, or dye sub ink, which behaves differently compared to the regular ink used by most printers. Sublimation ink bottles are specifically designed for these printers.

Sublimation ink, when printed onto sublimation paper, tends to result in colors that appear somewhat dull. This can impact the overall vibrancy and quality of the printed images. However, the magic happens when heat is applied. The dull prints transform into vibrant and detailed images, a result of the unique sublimation process.

What is a Regular Inkjet Printer?

On the other hand, a regular inkjet printer, which is a type of regular printer, is a versatile machine that finds a place in many homes and small offices. These printers excel at printing high-quality graphics and image-heavy documents, making them suitable for a variety of tasks.[1]

Inkjet printers, such as the Epson EcoTank printer, work by propelling droplets of inkjet ink onto paper through small nozzles. Epson printers, known for their high-resolution, bright photos, and detailed graphics, offer versatility and affordability. However, they come with their own set of challenges, including higher operational costs over time.

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Is It Possible to Convert a Sublimation Printer Back to Regular Ink?

Once the differences between sublimation and regular inkjet printers are clear, one might wonder if it’s possible to convert a sublimation printer back to regular ink. Indeed, it is feasible, albeit not as simple as one might anticipate.

The transition from sublimation ink to regular ink is possible but requires a careful process. Risks such as clogging dampers, damage to print heads, and ink system complications are associated with the conversion. Hence, approaching the process with care and adequate knowledge is imperative.

Factors to Consider Before Conversion

Before you embark on the conversion process, there are several factors to consider. The technology of the printer’s printhead, for instance, impacts its compatibility with sublimation inks. Not all printers are suitable for conversion, and some models may not support regular ink systems effectively after being used with sublimation inks.

The type of ink cartridge system your printer uses also matters. For instance, printers with individual cartridges may have an easier time transitioning compared to those with Continuous Ink Systems. The type of ink initially used in the printer could also impact how easily it can be converted back to regular ink.

Steps to Convert a Sublimation Printer Back to Regular Ink

Steps leading upward

With a grasp on the risks and considerations, we can now outline the steps to convert a sublimation printer back to regular ink. Bear in mind during the conversion to refrain from mixing sublimation ink with regular ink, as this could provoke complications.

Cleaning the Printer

The first step in the conversion process is cleaning the printer. It’s crucial to remove sublimation ink from the printer’s ink system and printhead. Achieving this involves using specialized cleaning solutions tailored to dissolve and eliminate residual sublimation ink from the printer’s ink lines and nozzles.

Replacing Sublimation Ink with Regular Ink

Following the thorough cleaning of the printer, the subsequent step is the installation of regular ink. This process entails substituting the sublimation ink cartridges with regular ink cartridges, or replenishing the ink tanks with regular ink. It’s vital to use regular ink designed specifically for your printer model to ensure compatibility and prevent potential damage.

Adjusting Printer Settings and Profiles

The final step in the conversion process is adjusting the printer settings to accommodate the different properties and requirements of regular ink. This includes changing the color profiles in the printer settings to achieve accurate color reproduction with regular ink. Remember, the color fidelity of your prints depends on the type of ink used.

Potential Issues and Solutions When Converting Back to Regular Ink

Printer ink cartridges displayed in a shop

Even with meticulous adherence to the conversion steps, some issues may arise. These could range from inaccurate color reproduction due to changes in firmware updates to clogged printheads. But don’t worry, each of these issues has a solution.

Incomplete Ink Removal

One possible issue during conversion is incomplete ink removal. To solve this, you need to perform a thorough cleaning of the printer’s ink system using a specialized cleaner. This ensures that all remaining sublimation inks are removed before introducing regular ink.

Printer Performance Issues

Another common issue following conversion is printer performance problems, such as clogged printheads. This can be detected by printing a test page. If you notice any issues, a cleaning cycle initiated through the printer’s software can resolve the problem and restore print quality.[2]

Benefits of Having Separate Printers for Sublimation and Regular Printing

The word ‘Benefits’ written on a wall

While it’s possible to convert a sublimation printer back to regular ink, it may be more beneficial to maintain separate printers for sublimation and regular printing. This approach offers several advantages, including optimal results, cost savings, and increased efficiency.

Dedicated Printers for Optimal Results

Having a dedicated sublimation printer ensures true-to-color prints and requires less maintenance. Since sublimation-specific printers are designed for less maintenance, they automatically perform routine printhead cleanings to prevent clogging and maintain high print quality.

Cost Savings and Efficiency

In addition to optimal results, separate printers also lead to cost savings and increased efficiency. They reduce ink waste, as there’s no need to purge the system during ink type switches. Plus, dedicated printers increase productivity by reducing downtime needed for cleaning or flushing out ink systems when changing between sublimation and regular ink.

Tips for Choosing the Right Printer for Your Needs

Row of white printers in a shop

Be it contemplating the purchase of a new printer or converting your current one, selecting a printer that aligns with your needs is crucial.

Below are some guidelines to assist in your decision-making process.

Assessing Your Printing Needs

The first step in selecting the right printer is assessing your printing needs. Consider the volume of printing you do, the range of tasks you expect the printer to perform, and the total cost of ownership of the printer. Taking these factors into account can help you make an informed decision.

Comparing Printer Features and Specifications

Once you’ve defined your needs, compare the features and specifications of different printers. Consider factors such as:

  • Printer functionality
  • Size
  • Connectivity options
  • Brand reputation
  • Compatibility with different paper types and sizes

With these considerations in mind, you’ll be well-equipped to choose a printer that fits your needs and budget.


In conclusion, converting a sublimation printer back to regular ink is indeed possible, but it comes with its own set of challenges and considerations. While it can be a cost-effective solution for some, maintaining separate printers for sublimation and regular printing can offer significant benefits in terms of quality, efficiency, and cost savings. Ultimately, the choice depends on your specific printing needs, preferences, and budget.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you go back and forth between sublimation ink and regular ink?

No, you cannot go back and forth between sublimation ink and regular ink on the same printer. It is recommended to use separate printers for each type of ink.

Can you use regular ink instead of sublimation ink?

No, you cannot use regular ink instead of sublimation ink because regular ink will not bond to the substrate and will produce incorrect prints. The specific chemical makeup of sublimation ink is essential for heat transfer printing.

Can I remove ink from Epson Ecotank?

Yes, you can remove ink from an Epson Ecotank, but it can be a bit complex and requires using a syringe to suck the ink out of the tank, followed by flushing the tank with isopropyl alcohol and then replacing it with the new ink. It will also involve running several nozzle cleaning cycles to flush the system completely.

What are the potential issues when converting back to regular ink?

When converting back to regular ink, potential issues may arise, such as incomplete ink removal and printer performance issues.

How do I choose the right printer for my needs?

To choose the right printer for your needs, assess your printing needs and compare printer features and specifications to make an informed decision.


  1. Cabading, Z. (2023, December 19). Laser Printer vs Inkjet: What Kind of Printer Do I Need?
  2. My print jobs are slow; What can I do? – Brother Canada. (n.d.).
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