sublimation ink

6 Best Sublimation Inks In 2024 (I’ve Tested All !)

Do you want to create stunning prints that will last a lifetime without fading?

Sublimation printing allows you to transfer dye onto fabrics, ceramics, metal, and more to make customized shirts, mugs, phone cases and endless creative projects.

But to get started, you need sublimation ink specifically designed for heat transfer printing. With so many options out there, it can get overwhelming to find the right ink for your printer and projects.

In this guide, we’ll break down exactly what to look for when choosing sublimation inks.

I’ve tested and reviewed the top brands on the market, so you can find the perfect ink for vibrant, long-lasting prints.

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How to Choose the Right Sublimation Ink

With so many ink options out there, it can get overwhelming trying to pick the right one.

Here are the key factors to consider when shopping for sublimation ink:

Epson inks life span
How to Choose the Right Sublimation Ink

1. Printer Compatibility

  • The first step is always to check your printer model and cartridge type.
  • Many sublimation ink brands are designed for specific printer makes and models.
  • For example, Epson, Ricoh, and Sawgrass printers each need their inks.
  • Using the wrong ink can damage your printer or result in clogs.

2. Color Quality

  • You want an ink that prints vibrant, saturated colors that pop on the page.
  • Higher intensity, brighter ink leads to more vivid and eye-catching final products.
  • Avoid washed-out, dull, or inaccurate colors. Always check reviews and print samples.
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3. Drying Time

  • The faster the ink dries, the better.
  • The ideal drying time is around 1-2 minutes. This prevents smudging when handling prints.
  • Faster dry time also allows you to print and press projects much quicker.

4. Shelf Life

  • Many people don’t use sublimation ink frequently. So you want an ink with a longer 1-2 year shelf life before it starts to expire.
  • Properly stored ink should still print flawlessly years later without fading or changing chemistry.

5. Budget

  • Finally, consider your budget. Sublimation ink prices range from $20 per bottle up to $65+.
  • More expensive inks offer premium quality and performance, while cheaper inks work great for hobbyists.
  • Find the right balance for your needs and skill level.

By keeping these factors in mind as you shop, you’ll find the perfect sublimation ink for printing stunning customized shirts, mugs, blankets, and more!

6 Best Sublimation Inks for Vibrant, Long-Lasting Prints

Below are a few sublimation inks that you can use to create long-lasting prints:

Budget-Friendly Sublimation Inks

If you just want to print fun custom projects without breaking the bank, these affordable inks deliver excellent quality:

1. Hiipoo Sublimation Ink

For brilliant, vivid colors at an affordable price point, Hiipoo is my top pick. This ink dries lightning fast in just 2 minutes so your prints won’t smudge.

image
Image Credit: Hiipoo

The quick-drying water-based ink is specially designed for Epson EcoTank printers. It prints bright, saturated colors without you needing to install any ICC color profiles.

Ideal for beginners printing custom t-shirt designs, ceramic tiles, canvases, and other projects on a budget. Hiipoo inks bring professional vibrancy to hobby printing.

Key Features:

  • Water-based, non-toxic, and eco-friendly formula
  • ICC-free printing means no fussing with color profiles
  • Resists clogs in the printer head
  • High print transfer rate for vivid images
  • Fast 2-minute dry time so prints don’t smudge
  • Fast 2-minute dry time so prints don’t smudge

Click here to buy the Hiipoo Sublimation Ink.

2. HTVRONT Sublimation Ink

Looking for even more savings on ink? HTVRONT delivers very similar performance and prints quality to premium brands at a fraction of the cost.

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Image Credit: HTVRONT

The ink leaves a vibrant glossy finish on polyester fabrics and ceramic mugs. For just casual printing, HTVRONT inks will get the job done on a budget.

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Key Features:

  • Bright magenta for vivid red tones
  • Eco-friendly water-based formula
  • Includes set of 4 x 60ml bottles
  • 1-year shelf life before expiring
  • Decent print longevity without fading
  • Very affordable for hobby use

Click here to buy the HTVRONT Sublimation Ink.

Sublimation Inks with Other Features

Beyond just basic color vibrancy, some sublimation ink brands offer unique advantages:

3. Printers Jack Sublimation Ink

Printers Jack sublimation ink gives you one of the widest color ranges on the market for truly vibrant, accurate prints. The included ICC profiles take the guesswork out of color management.

image
Image Credit: Printers Jack

Prints made with this ink are completely waterproof thanks to the proprietary formula. Your fabric prints can withstand washing without running.

Plus, Printers Jack ink works on both 100% polyester as well as cotton/polyester blend fabrics giving you more substrate flexibility.

Key Features:

  • Vibrant, extremely accurate color reproduction
  • Minimizes fading for long-lasting prints
  • Works on both 100% polyester and cotton/poly blends
  • Easy to install bottles with wide opening
  • Waterproof prints that won’t run or bleed
  • Comes with free downloadable ICC profiles

Click here to buy the Printers Jack Sublimation Ink.

4. Cosmos Ink

Cosmos Ink has been specially engineered to maintain peak print quality and performance for years. The ink boasts an unbeatable 2+ year shelf life when stored properly before expiring.

This makes Cosmos ink a great choice if you won’t be printing frequently and need your ink to remain usable for the long term.

image
Image Credit: Cosmos Ink

The water-based ink has a high intensity for vivid prints that pop on polyester fabrics and polymer-coated substrates. Cosmos Ink brings you the professional color quality that lasts.

Key Features:

  • Excellent print vibrancy and intensity
  • Easy to install and refill with drip-free bottles
  • Designed to prevent clogged print heads
  • 2+ years of shelf life if properly stored
  • Non-toxic water-based formula

Click here to buy the Cosmos Ink.

Top Overall Sublimation Inks

For gallery-worthy results of client work, these top-shelf inks are worth the premium investment:

5. Epson UltraChrome DS Ink

When only the highest print quality will do, Epson UltraChrome DS Ink delivers exceptional results worthy of an art gallery. This ink is specially formulated to bring out the most in Epson printers.

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Image Credit: Epson

The intense color saturation and accuracy are perfect for photographs, art prints, and projects where precise color reproduction is critical.

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While UltraChrome ink costs more than alternatives, the unrivaled professional print quality makes this premium ink well worth the investment.

Key Features:

  • Produces rich, deep blacks for stunning contrast
  • Water-resistant when pressed for durable prints
  • Crisp precision with extraordinary detail
  • Fast 2-minute dry time to handle quickly
  • Engineered specifically for Epson printers

Click here to buy Epson UltraChrome DS Ink.

6. Sawgrass Sublijet HD Ink

For exceptional museum-quality prints, Sawgrass Sublijet HD ink is the gold standard. This premium ink is specially engineered to bring out the full capabilities of Sawgrass’ professional printers.

The rich, vibrant ink produces commercial printer-quality projects with stunning color accuracy. Prints resist fading for decades when properly pressed.

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Image Credit: Sawgrass

While costly, Sublijet HD ink is a must for photographers, graphic designers, and anyone who needs commercial-grade prints that make a lasting impression.

Key Features:

  • Proprietary consistent ink chemistry
  • Extreme fade resistance over time
  • Works on the widest range of substrates
  • Delivers commercial-level detail and clarity
  • Dries quickly in under 3 minutes
  • Made specifically for Sawgrass printers

Click here to buy the Sawgrass Sublijet HD Ink.

Let’s see what Shylo132 has to say about his top 3 sublimation inks:

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Image Credit: Reddit

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are a few frequently asked questions to help you out:

Is all sublimation ink the same?

Not! Ink can vary widely in color quality, drying time, printer compatibility, and longevity. Always check reviews and the product details to ensure it will work well with your printer and meet your print needs.

How long will sublimation ink last?

With proper storage, sublimation ink lasts 1-2 years on average before expiring.
Some inks like Cosmos boast an even longer 2+ year shelf life
. Be sure to keep ink bottles sealed tight and stored at room temperature out of direct light.

Is sublimation ink waterproof?

Once the ink is bonded to the substrate and sealed with polymer coating spray, sublimation prints become fully waterproof.
Until heat pressed, the prints can still smear or fade when wet. Some inks offer extra water resistance like Printers Jack.

Wrapping Up

I hope this guide helps you find the ideal sublimation inks to bring your printable product ideas to life!

For most beginners, I recommend affordable options like Hiipoo or HTVRONT inks. And invest in premium inks like Epson UltraChrome or Sawgrass Sublijet HD once you start taking on professional client work.

Just be sure to always check for printer compatibility and reviews before you buy. With the right ink, you’ll be making vibrant, customizable shirts, mugs, canvases, and more in no time.

Comment below to let me know if you have any other questions.

Bella Williams

I'm Bella, a mom of 3 cuties. With 7 years of sublimation experience, my blog dyethrive.com focuses on all things sublimation and printing. Join me for tips, tutorials, and inspiration to enhance your sublimation journey. Let's create and thrive together!
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