You might have wondered how to make heat transfers. The easiest way to transfer your artwork onto T-shirts is by using heat transfer paper.
It’s quick, safe, affordable, and you can do it from home. But that means you need the best printer for heat transfers!
There’s nothing like seeing your designs on fabric. You can transfer your designs onto shirts, hoodies, bags, tea towels, and more.
It’s a lot of fun, and it can earn you some money, too. You just need to invest in the right tools.
Choosing the best printer for heat transfers is a big deal. That’s true whether you’re exploring a new hobby or setting up a side hustle.
As a graphic designer or illustrator, selling your clothing designs is a great way to bring in some cash.
But there are hundreds of printers, and comparing the specs can be overwhelming. So, I took the time to research the best printer for making art prints for you.
Read on for my detailed buyer’s guide and reviews of the top printers around!
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How to Choose the Best Printer for Heat Transfer Paper
When selecting the best printer for transfer paper, there are a few things you need to know. Here are my top tips on choosing the right printer for heat transfer printing.
These factors are what make a printer suitable for heat transfers. They are the difference between an average and a superb printer.
Snag yourself a printer with all these features. Then, you’ll know that you’ve got yourself a reliable heat transfer printer.
The Type of Ink
The two main types of printers are inkjet and laser printers. Each type comes with its own pros and cons, which I’ll explain here!
Inkjet printers tend to cost less upfront. You have a choice of dye, sublimation, or pigment inks for your inkjet printer.
Dye-based ink is the cheapest of the three options, but it has significant drawbacks. If you use dye-based ink, it’s more likely to fade over time and with exposure to UV light.
I would only recommend dye-based inks if you’re on a very tight budget.
In contrast, sublimation inks won’t fade as much. But they are more challenging to use and require a lot of knowledge to get it right.
The final and best option for inkjet printers is pigment-based inks. This ink costs more, but it won’t run or fade either.
It’s water-resistant and suitable for all conditions. That makes it ideal for heat transfers.
Laser printers use toner rather than ink. When you buy ink or toner for heat printing, check that it’s compatible with your specific model.
If you get the wrong type, it can cause printing issues or even break your printer.
Inkjet vs. Laser Printers
So, which type of printer should you go for? Are inkjet or laser printers better for transferring your designs onto fabric?
It’s an important question to ask. The answer comes down to how well each printer can create heat transfer prints.
Laser prints are excellent because they already generate heat in the printing process. But you do have to be careful about the type of paper you use.
There’s also the risk that your prints and your printer will get too hot. Make sure to pay careful attention when printing heat transfers with a laser printer!
However, not all inkjet printers are suitable for heat transfers. You’ll need to use a specific process, so double-check that your printer is capable before buying it.
Whichever printer you choose, make sure that it can handle heat transfer paper. Otherwise, you’ll end up with jams, destroyed prints, or even a broken printer.
The final type of printer for heat transfers is the sublimation printer. These differ from other types because they can print straight onto the fabric.
That means you don’t have to print onto transfer paper and iron your design onto the cloth. This process is quicker and generally more reliable, producing the best quality prints.
But with sublimation printers, you’re limited to just printing on fabric. When you print on transfer paper, you can add your designs to other objects like mugs and water bottles.
You’ll need to weigh up the different factors and decide what type of printer and ink you’ll buy!
The Best Printer for Heat Transfers: My Recommendations
Now that you know the options, let’s dive into the reviews.
- Brother HL-L2320D Mono Laser Printer
- Epson WorkForce 1100
- HP LaserJet Pro M452dw
- Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000
- Silhouette Cameo 4
(Image credit: Brother)
First up is this laser printer from the well-known brand, Brother. Not only is it ideal for heat transfers, but it can manage all your regular print jobs too.
It comes with advanced features like duplex printing and is super speedy. This laser printer can produce 30 regular prints per minute.
It’s designed to handle large volumes, making it perfect if you need to print a lot of heat transfer paper. The print tray can hold up to 250 sheets for hands-free printing.
While this printer is black and white, that shouldn’t be a problem. You can print onto colored transfer paper, and your prints will come out looking great.
This Brother laser printer is economical and hard-wearing with excellent print quality. Your prints will look premium for superior finished products.
If you’re setting up a fabric printing or custom T-shirt business, this printer ticks all the right boxes. It offers excellent value for money and can handle large turnovers.
While it doesn’t have Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, it’s easy to connect using a simple USB. All these factors combine to make it a great printer for heat transfers.
- Affordable and uses very little toner
- Versatile – suitable for heat transfers and regular printing
- It doesn’t have Bluetooth or WiFi connectivity
Check price onAmazon
(Image credit: Epson)
Next up is a very different printer, to ensure that there is something for everyone! The Epson WorkForce 1100 is a color inkjet printer that can double up as a printer for heat transfers.
This printer stands out due to its wide format that lets you create bigger designs for your products. With many printers, you’re limited to a smaller size, which can limit your creativity.
But the WorkForce 1100 can produce prints up to 13×19 inches. That gives you plenty of freedom to create larger, and more unique designs.
It’s also pretty fast at 33 ppm in black and white and 17 ppm in color. It takes several ink cartridges and the colors are vivid and saturated.
The ink also dries in seconds to prevent smudging and ensure your designs look amazing.
It’s also compact so that you can fit it in any room. You don’t need a big office for this printer.
The main drawback is how quickly the WorkForce 1100 gets through ink. My tip is to buy the high-capacity cartridges, so you don’t need to replace them as often.
But overall, it’s a fantastic choice if you want to print large designs on your T-shirts. It provides greater freedom and consistent image quality.
- Ideal for larger heat transfer designs
- It prints fast and to the highest standards
- This printer uses a lot of ink, which could be costly
Check price onAmazon
(Image credit: HP)
If you’re looking for a high-volume laser printer, the HP LaserJet Pro could be just what you need. It’s designed for small businesses and can handle frequent use and large outputs.
The LaserJet holds 300 sheets in the input tray. Over a month, you can print up to 4,000 times with this printer without worrying about it wearing out.
Plus, it’s packed full of other useful features. As you’d expect, it’s speedy at 28 ppm.
It can produce up to 150 heat transfer prints in one go, which is impressive. It’s rare to find a printer that can handle such a large volume of heat transfer paper without overheating.
Also, it can handle a variety of paper sizes and is suitable for heat transfer paper. So, you can create designs of any size from 3×5 inches up to 8×13.5 inches.
The connectivity options are excellent, allowing you to connect over WiFi or Bluetooth. You don’t need to hook up your laptop to print, giving you more flexibility.
Another benefit of this color laser printer is that toner lasts a lot longer than ink. So, you should spend less, making it an excellent long-term investment.
Without a doubt, the HP LaserJet Pro is the best laser printer for heat transfers.
- Ideal for printing lots of transfers at once
- It’s fast, user-friendly, and easy to connect from any device
- The print resolution isn’t the best
Check price onAmazon
(Image credit: Epson)
The Epson Expression is a printer designed for photos, so the images are of very high quality.
That makes it perfect for your heat transfer designs. Because you want them to look good on the finished product!
During the process, heat transfers tend to lose some definition. That’s why it is essential to bet on a printer of high quality.
Epson Expression the best printer for artwork thanks to its large-format capability. This printer can produce prints up to 13 x 19 inches.
It can also handle borderless prints, allowing you to present your art at its best.
The rear tray comes in handy, as you can load it up with heat transfer paper ahead of time. It makes it easier to print your designs with the least preparation.
Another positive sign is that this printer has six individual toner cartridges. The general rule is the more cartridge it has, the higher quality your images will be.
With all these advanced features, the Expression HD doesn’t come cheap. But if you can afford the initial investment, you won’t regret it.
- A fantastic wide format printer for heat transfers
- Excellent image quality and vivid colors
- It’s quite expensive
Check price onAmazon
(Image credit: Silhouette)
Last but not least is the Silhouette Cameo 4. It’s the only cutting machine on my list. So if you like the idea of cutting straight onto fabric, this one might be the right printer for you!
The Cameo 4 is specially designed for transfer (on vinyl or iron-on film) and cutting.. This means that generally there should never be a jam-like some regular printers do.
The Silhouette Cameo won’t handle your regular print jobs. But if you need a specialized machine for paper cutting designs, the benefits of this model are huge.
It also has other handy features for transfers. For example, you can feed in the transfer paper straight from the roll to save you time. It also has a blade to cut your designs once they’ve printed.
Using the Silhouette Cameo 4 has a steep learning curve. But the good news is that it comes with a detailed guide on using it. And once you’ve mastered it, your designs will look better than ever.
The final benefit is that it doesn’t cost much more than a regular printer!
This sublimation machine will take your fabric printing to the next level. Its customization and print quality is almost impossible to beat.
- Designed specifically for cutting
- Superb image quality and lots of helpful features
- You can’t use it as a standard printer
Check price onAmazon
The Wrap Up
Printing on fabric is so much fun. It’s something else to see your unique designs on a T-shirt or tote bag!
Plus, it’s a lot easier to get started than what you think. You just need to buy the best printer for heat transfers or art prints, and you’ll be all set.
The reviewed printers offer all the features you need for heat transfer printing. You’ll find both inkjet and laser printers, and there’s something for every budget.
So, what are you waiting for? Take your pick and click the link to buy your new printer today!
I’ll warn you that printing your designs can get pretty addictive! But it’s the perfect way to make a living from your artwork.
And even if you just do it as a hobby, you won’t regret buying this cool new gadget.
Let me know in the comments which printer you go for! Then, sign up for the Proactive Creative newsletter for more helpful resources.
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