Can You Use Sublimation Ink on Regular Paper?

One of the most necessary pieces of equipment required by people operating design and printing business has always been a sublimation printer that uses sublimation ink. It goes without saying that sublimation paper works best when printing with sublimation ink. What happens, though, if you don’t have a sublimation paper? Can you use ordinary paper with sublimation ink?

A regular paper cannot be used for printing with sublimation ink. Because sublimation ink has a unique chemical makeup that calls for a paper that should only serve as a temporary carrier before the ink is transferred to another surface, this is the case. The ordinary paper will only absorb the sublimation ink.

What is Sublimation Ink?

what is best sublimation ink

One of the most crucial things that design and printing firms that frequently use textiles as the primary material for their designs know is to invest in a good sublimation printer that uses sublimation ink rather than the conventional inkjet used in ordinary printers. What, however, is sublimation ink?

A type of ink known as sublimation ink differs chemically from traditional dye ink. It differs because sublimation inks are explicitly created for the process of sublimation. In physics, sublimation converts solids into gases without going through the liquid stage.

This indicates that sublimation ink is designed to transform instantly into gas when applied to textiles and other surfaces that behave similarly. The procedure allows the ink to transfer flawlessly along with the complete design. And sublimation paper is typically used to assist the transfer process.

Can You Use Sublimation Ink on Regular Paper?

Does the fact that you now understand what sublimation ink is and that it requires paper to act as a temporary ink carrier indicate that any paper may be used for sublimation? Can ordinary paper be used in place of sublimation paper?

The answer is no; when applying sublimation ink, ordinary paper cannot be substituted with sublimation paper. This is because sublimation paper is intended to handle sublimation ink in a manner that conventional copy paper is not. When you ultimately transfer the design to a shirt or another material, standard paper won’t do the most significant type of work; thus, in a manner, this is what occurs.

The paper should only be a temporary carrier when printing with sublimation ink before the design is transferred to the finished item. This indicates that there shouldn’t be a lot of ink absorption by the paper.

Therefore, only a portion of the sublimation ink will be transferred to the finished product through the sublimation process if you use ordinary paper, which is often reasonably absorbent. This is because conventional copy paper absorbs too much ink, preventing the ink from being released by sublimation. As a result, the design will be subpar and lack the color depth and intricacies you would have desired.

Additionally, until the sublimation transfer is finished, the ink used for sublimation printing is not black enough. The design will be dull and very light if sublimation ink is used on ordinary paper. The colors will emerge from the pattern using the sublimation process. However, as the standard paper is an excellent ink absorber, the ink transfer by sublimation will not be as effective as you had intended.

Advantages of Using Sublimation Ink on Appropriate Substrates:

  1. Vibrant and Durable Prints: Sublimation printing produces prints with rich, vivid colors that are embedded into the material. This results in designs that are fade-resistant, scratch-resistant, and can withstand multiple washes without fading.
  2. Full-Color Printing: Sublimation allows for intricate, full-color designs with exceptional detail and sharpness, making it ideal for custom apparel, mugs, and other personalized items.
  3. Versatile Applications: Sublimation can be used on a wide range of substrates, including clothing, ceramic mugs, phone cases, and more, providing endless customization possibilities.

Disadvantages of Using Sublimation Ink on Regular Paper:

  1. Poor Results: Attempting to use sublimation ink on regular paper will yield unsatisfactory results, including blurred prints and ink smudging.
  2. Potential Equipment Damage: Using sublimation ink on the wrong type of paper can damage your sublimation printer, leading to costly repairs or replacements.

Alternative Options for Sublimation Printing:

  1. Sublimation Paper: To achieve the best results with sublimation printing, invest in high-quality sublimation paper designed for this purpose. Sublimation paper is specially coated to accept sublimation ink and release it evenly onto your chosen substrate.
  2. Sublimation Blanks: Sublimation blanks are products specifically designed for sublimation printing. These include polyester garments, ceramic mugs, metal sheets, and more. Using the right blanks ensures that your sublimation ink adheres properly and produces vibrant prints.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of paper do you use with sublimation ink?

Heat transfer paper uses inks such as solvent ink, pigment ink, and sublimation ink. Media: Sublimation paper may transfer images onto hard surfaces like ceramic, aluminum, polyester, mousepads, and banners. However, heat transfer paper is often applied to cotton.

Do I need special paper for sublimation printing?

Specialized paper, known as sublimation transfer paper, is only used in sublimation printing, made from a paper substrate roughly analogous to a standard sheet of paper. The dye sublimation inks are kept on the paper by a specific coating.

Can you sublimate on black shirts?

Like cotton shirts in other hues, including white, maybe sublimated, dark t-shirts can also be sublimated. You use either a sublimation vinyl like EasySubli or glitter white heat transfer vinyl instead of sublimating directly on the shirt.

What happens if you sublimate on cotton?

If you attempt to seal the sublimation transfers onto untreated cloth, the sublimation will wash out of cotton. This occurs because the all-natural cotton fibers and the synthetic sublimation dye are incapable of forming a chemical link. However, cotton may be sublimated by adding a synthetic surface to the cloth.

Can I use sublimation ink in my HP printer?

Hello, The HP STITCH series is a range of printers designed specifically for use with sublimation ink. Both thermal (heat) and piezo (pressure) technologies are used in printers. Sublimation ink requires micro piezo printheads. Sublimation ink is not compatible with thermal printers.

How long do sublimation inks last?

Sublimation inks for printers have a shelf life. Too much time spent printing them will result in problems like color shifting, head clogs, and banding. Although it’s generally accepted that you may print after the “use-by” date without any issues, using the cartridges within six months of installing them is still a good idea.


While standard copy paper may be used with sublimation ink, the results won’t be what you were hoping for. Due to the inks’ absorption into the paper, the transfers will be flat and less bright. Unless you are in a crunch, stick with what works with the sublimation paper.

Check out some more fantastic, practical craft ideas in our other Craft-ILY blogs and on YouTube in the DIY and How To videos section. Search for “Crafting Unedited” or click the name in blue.