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Can Canon Printers Be Used for Sublimation?

Can Canon Printers Be Used for Sublimation?

For small business owners, often, there is a need to come up with budget-friendly hacks to manage their business. If you manage a small business connected to printing on fabric, you might be looking for a cost-effective sublimation printer. And, if you happen to have a Canon printer at home, it must have crossed your mind – should I use this for my brand?

While the typical Canon printer is effective at printing on paper, it is not built by the manufacturer with sublimation printing in mind. Since sublimation utilizes a different mechanism altogether, the average Office printer from Canon cannot be used as a sublimation printer. However, the brand does have a range of sublimation printers you can look into purchasing instead.

So, to learn what kind of sublimation printer to use, keep reading our guide. We will describe sublimation printing and how it differs from other printing forms. We will also give you a recommendation for a sublimation printer from Canon. 

What Is Sublimation Printing? 

You can print out images on more materials than just paper using sublimation printing. It allows for a crisp and clean image transfer, and because the image prints into the fabric rather than lying above it, the result is likely to be permanent. 

Photo: Printful

The sublimation process is also generally cost-effective enough to be used in smaller batches, which is why so many small businesses seek it out. With a sublimation printer, they can get work done on smaller, custom batches with ease.

How Does Sublimation Printing Work?

Sublimation is a chemical process through which heating a substance immediately converts it into a gaseous form, skipping the liquid altogether. The benefit of the pigments in a gaseous state is that they can enter inside the material. For example, the dyes apply an even coat that is likely to stay in place within a fabric’s fibers.

This shift is precisely what happens to the pigments in a sublimation printer. A sublimation printer doesn’t print directly onto the fabric itself – instead, it will print the design on a transfer paper, where the ink remains solid. The transfer paper is then aligned to the fabric material you have chosen, and then they are both passed through a heating process. The roller uses a combination of heat and pressure to convert the solid ink into a gas. 

The inks will now penetrate the fabric and transfer the design onto your fabric material. The machine turns off the heat, leaving the ink back in a solid-state. The fabric is now dyed, and the design is unlikely to fade, as is the issue with traditional printing.

Can You Use a Regular Printer for Sublimation? 

In most cases, you can’t convert a typical inkjet printer to a sublimation printer. This conflict is because sublimation printing uses an entirely different mechanism altogether. The technique used in sublimation printers is called Piezo technology, and not every printer has the adaptations to carry out sublimation printing. 

Sublimation PrinterInkjet Printer
Dye StateSolidLiquid
MethodologyApply heatDrop liquid dye
Color rangeDiverseOnly primary colors
EfficiencySome dye is wastedAll dye is utilized
MaterialsFabrics, coated surfacesMostly on paper
Water damageResistantNot resistant
FadingResistantNot resistant
Comparison of Inkjet and Sublimation Printers

Can you use Canon Printers for Sublimation?

The typical Canon printer utilizes inkjet technology instead of sublimation. Since the inkjet technology does not involve sheet transfer and heating in the same way, you cannot convert them into sublimation printers. Alternatively, Canon does have some sublimation printers. However, there are fewer options when it comes to printing on fabric with a Canon printer. 

Related: How to Make Canon Printer Print Without Color Cartridge

Options for Canon Printers

Some options are available if you want to use sublimation methods with a Canon printer. Let’s look at these options together:

Use A PIXMA With Iron-On Transfers

If getting your prints on a piece of fabric is the goal of this process, you may want to consider the Canon PIXMA series. These allow you to create designs and then print them out on an Iron-transfer paper. While this result will not be permanent, it can still be an attractive option for smaller projects and small business owners. 

Photo: Canon

The PIXMA printers are compatible and can print on Iron-transfer paper. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Load the printer with your iron-on transfer.
  2. You can choose either a light or dark transfer, depending on the color of your fabric. 
  3. Print out the design.
  4. Trim around the design so only the necessary parts show up on your material at the end. 
  5. Peel the back of the transfer sheet and place the leftover transfer on your fabric.
  6. Cover your design with parchment and iron over it.
  7. Apply even pressure and allow the transfer to stick.

Use The Canon SELPHY CP1300

The Canon SELPHY CP1300 is a sublimation printer that can create prints on specialty paper materials. The printer’s main task is to create photographic images with the use of sublimation technology. Although this printer is not meant to work with fabrics, this may be your go-to choice if you want to use sublimation for paper printing. 


Converting a typical office or home printer into a sublimation printer is not usually an achievable goal. This issue is especially the case with Canon printers, which use a completely different mechanism to print out items. While Canon has some options that are venturing into the world of sublimation, there is still a long way to go.

While you may be on the lookout for a sublimation printer, other options are to consider. Typically sublimation printers are large and heavy machines that need a lot of space, so they may not be the most cost-effective for a smaller business owner.