How to Convert an Epson Printer to Sublimation

1. Introduction

By enabling the conversion of an ordinary Epson desktop or large-format printer into a dedicated sublimation printer, InkOwl allows you to affordably get into sublimation printing! InkOwl's Performance-D Sublimation Ink (for 4-6 color desktop printers) and Performance-Ultra Sublimation Ink (for large-format printers) are competitively priced and manufactured in the United States.

However, with sublimation ink, it is essential that the ink never come into direct contact with any other ink (Epson ink, other aftermarket, other sublimation brand). As such, when converting an ordinary Epson printer to function as a sublimation printer, it is necessary to follow these conversion guidelines very closely.

The steps to follow vary depending on the kind of printer being converted, so we have split this guide into 4 sections:

  • Converting an Epson desktop printer to sublimation (Artisan, Expression, Stylus Photo, WorkForce, C88+, etc...)
  • Converting an Epson EcoTank printer to sublimation (all EcoTank models)
  • Converting a brand-new Epson large-format printer to sublimation (Stylus Pro, SureColor, and R3000)
  • Converting a used Epson large-format printer to sublimation (Stylus Pro, SureColor, and R3000)

If you have any questions or concerns about converting your current printer or a brand-new printer, do not hesitate to give us a call at 1-888-446-5695 for a one-on-one consultation!

2. Converting an Epson desktop printer to sublimation (Artisan, Expression, Stylus Photo, WorkForce, C88+, etc...)

If your Epson printer is currently using any other ink (Epson-brand ink, aftermarket ink, another brand of sublimation ink), it is required that you clean the printer immediately upon installing the InkOwl sublimation ink.

  • Before beginning the conversion process, print a nozzle check to confirm that the printhead is working properly. Do not attempt to perform a conversion on a printer that is not printing correctly.
  • Remove all the old ink cartridges. Fill and install a set of refillable cartridges with InkOwl Performance-D or Performance-Ultra sublimation ink.
  • Perform 5 Printhead Cleanings to eliminate the old ink.
  • If the Nozzle Check pattern is mostly restored but not totally, wait 24 hours before continuing with Printhead Cleanings.

Recommended items:

To use sublimation ink:

  1. Set of InkOwl Performance-D or Performance-Ultra Sublimation Inks
  2. Set of Refillable Cartridges

3. Converting an Epson EcoTank printer to sublimation (all EcoTank models)

It is only possible to convert an Epson EcoTank printer to sublimation if it is completely brand-new and has not yet been filled with any other ink. Simply inject our Performance-D sublimation ink into your EcoTank printer using the provided syringes. All EcoTank models can be used with Performance-D sublimation ink if brand-new.

To use sublimation ink:

  1. Set of InkOwl Performance-D Sublimation Inks

4. Converting a brand-new Epson large-format printer to sublimation (Stylus Pro, SureColor, and R3000)

If your Epson printer is brand-new, out-of-box, and has never had ink inside, you can proceed straight to using our inks. Do not install the Epson cartridges provided with the printer. Instead, immediately install a set of refillable cartridges with Performance-Ultra sublimation ink (or a set of Performance-Ultra sublimation cartridges, available for some models).

Note: Some printers have two black slots (photo black + matte black). Only the matte black slot needs to be used. Fill the photo black slot with bottled purge fluid (or install a cleaning cartridge), as this slot will not be used in printing.

Recommended items:

To use sublimation ink bottles:

  1. Set of InkOwl Performance-Ultra Sublimation Inks
  2. Set of Refillable Cartridges
  3. Chip Resetter
  4. Printers that have two black slots: Photo Black Cleaning Cartridge or Bottled Purge Fluid

To use sublimation cartridges:

  1. Set of InkOwl Performance-Ultra Sublimation Cartridges
  2. Printers that have two black slots: Photo Black Cleaning Cartridge

5. Converting a used Epson large-format printer to sublimation (Stylus Pro, SureColor, and R3000)

If your Epson printer is currently using any other ink (Epson-brand ink, aftermarket ink, another brand of sublimation ink), it is required that you purge all old ink from the printer's lines prior to installing InkOwl Performance-Ultra Sublimation Ink.

  • Before beginning the conversion process, print a nozzle check to confirm that the printhead is working properly. Do not attempt to perform a conversion on a printer that is not printing correctly.
  • Ensure that you have a spare maintenance tank or a maintenance tank resetter available before proceeding.
  • Remove all the old ink cartridges and install a set of refillable cartridges filled with bottled purge fluid (or a set of cleaning cartridges, available for some models).
  • Perform the initial fill procedure to clear the old ink from the lines and replace it with purge fluid. Repeat the initial fill procedure once more to eliminate all residues.
  • Install the Performance-Ultra sublimation ink. For convenience, we recommend a second set of refillable cartridges for the ink. However, if you wish to re-use the same set of cartridges for both the purge fluid and the ink, it is possible to do so. Dump the purge fluid from the cartridges as best you can, but do not rinse with water. Add about 50mL of sublimation ink to the cartridge, and then suck out all the resulting ink/fluid mixture using the priming syringe. Finally, fill the cartridge to capacity with sublimation ink normally.
  • Perform the initial fill procedure to fill the lines with sublimation ink for printing!

Note: Some printers have two black slots (photo black + matte black). Only the matte black slot needs to be used. Leave the purge fluid behind in the photo black slot, as this slot will not be used in printing.

Recommended items:

To use sublimation ink bottles:

  1. Set of InkOwl Performance-Ultra Sublimation Inks
  2. Set of Refillable Cartridges
  3. Chip Resetter
  4. Bottled Purge Fluid & Optional 2nd Set of Refillable Cartridges OR Set of Cleaning Cartridges
  5. Spare Maintenance Tank or Maintenance Tank Resetter

To use sublimation cartridges:

  1. Set of InkOwl Performance-Ultra Sublimation Cartridges
  2. Set of Cleaning Cartridges
  3. Spare Maintenance Tank or Maintenance Tank Resetter 

6. After converting the printer

With your printer converted to InkOwl Performance-D Sublimation Ink or Performance-Ultra Sublimation Ink, you can begin sublimation printing. For best results, print your images onto a transfer paper specifically intended for sublimation printing. Transfer the prints using an appropriately-sized heat press onto the sublimation blank (imprintable) of your choice!

Although it is possible to obtain decent results without color management, the color gamut will be severely limited. To produce professional-grade sublimated materials, color management is required. An ICC profile will need to be installed into Photoshop, Illustrator, Corel, or your RIP software. It is possible to produce this profile yourself using a device such as ColorMunki or SpyderPRINT. Alternatively, with the purchase of a full set of InkOwl inks, you can benefit from InkOwl's complimentary ICC profiling service. For our Performance-D inks, ICC profiles are available for download right on our website!


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