Copyright Silhouette School 2016. Powered by Blogger.

Best Printer for Small Business 2023: Is Inkjet, Sublimation, Ecosolvent, Print and Cut, DTF, DTG Best for You?

Whether you're a home crafter looking for a basic inkjet printer to do print and cut with Silhouette, want a low cost sublimation printer or are looking to expand a small business by investing in some type of sticker printer or transfer printer - I'm going to help you finally decide which is BEST for you. 

silhouette 101, silhouette america blog, small business, printers, print and cut

Unfortunately there's not one printer that will do it all. Especially if you're on a budget and have space restrictions. However, there are a wide variety of printers for both hobby crafters and small businesses. 

If you're a hobby crafter who is NOT selling, my recommendation is to consider these inkjet printers for print and cut materials (stickers, printable vinyl, printable HTV). If you are interested in adding a sublimation printer I'd suggest the low cost the Epson F170 or Sawgrass SG500 the best sublimation printers for beginners. I would recommend against converting an inkjet printer to a sublimation printer in hopes of saving money. 

Which Printer Should I Get...Next? 

Most Silhouette crafters already have an inkjet printer when they start out with their Silhouette allowing them to print and cut immediately.  The "need" for another printer comes later when you realize just how much MORE you can do when you add a(nother) printer. Wondering what printer to get next to take your t shirt, sticker, customization, or vinyl business to the next level...just answer a few questions and follow the chart then read more about your potential matches below.  (PS...The chart is clickable!)

Best Printer for Small Business 2023

Still not sure which is the best printer for small business? Here's a printer comparison chart for all of the printers that I have that can be used by small businesses and Etsy shops.

sawgrass, dtf printer, epson sublimation, ecosolvent printer, roland,

Best Sublimation Printer for Small Business

Sublimation Printers for Small Business
Sublimation printing is a popular choice because it's a print and press method that produces high-quality graphics and images that are vibrant, stunning, and professional-looking.  The ink used in sublimation printing is permanent and can be applied to both hard goods and garments - if they include polyester.  It's a popular option because it has a relatively low start up cost and versatility. 

For Silhouette Studio users printing directly from the software with access to the Epson Print Manager and the Sawgrass Print Manager makes sublimation printing easy on both Mac and PCs. 

epson sublimation, sawgrass sublimation, sublimation printer, epson f570 sawgrass sg1000

However, there are also several major downsides to consider when considering if a sublimation printer is what your business needs.  

Depending on the printer, including the Sawgrass SG500 and SG1000, the replacement ink cartridges are expensive - about $300 per set.  Ink for the Epson F570 is far less expensive and far more is included with the printer. 

sublimation, sawgrass sg1000, epson f570, sublimation ink, small business, printer comparison

Direct sublimation printing is not suitable for use on dark surfaces, garments or 100% cotton fabrics. It requires at least a 65% polyester blend on fabrics or a polyester coating on hard goods. In addition, a heat press is necessary to complete the sublimation process due to the high temperature and pressure required to transfer the ink. 

If you're  considering a sublimation printer just keep in mind you'll get beautiful colors and professional results, but with certain limitations and requirements that need to be considered before investing in this printing method.

If you’re just getting started with sublimation start here 

Direct to Garment Printers for Small Business

Shop the DTG printers I have:

Direct to garment (DTG) printing allows you to literally put the garment into printer and print right on it.  One of the main advantages of DTG printing is that it is a fast and easy process that produces a soft hand on the fabric. To print on black shirts, white ink and pretreated shirts are required. It is recommended to use garments with at least 50% cotton. Models with white ink can be used to print on any color garment. 

roland bt-12, epson f2100, direct to garment printer, dtg, dtf printer

Both DTG printers I have, included the easy to use software free and it's compatible with both MAC and PC. 

I would say there are really two main DTG printers available for the small home business. The Roland BT-12 Direct to Garment Printer, which doesn't have white ink, and the Epson F2100 DTG printer, which does have white ink (and doubles as a DTF printer). 

The lowest priced DTG printers, like the Roland BT-12, do not include white ink which means you can not print on dark shirts.  

roland bt-12, epson f2100, direct to garment printer, dtg, dtf printer

DTG printing is not without limitations though. It can only be used on fabrics and not on hard goods. The initial investment for a non-white ink model can be expensive, starting at around $2,000.  The Epson F2100 that does print white and doubles as as DTF printer starts at $10k. 

Neither prints directly from Silhouette Studio, but files can be easily exported from Silhouette Studio and opened directly. Ink can also be costly, and a heat press or finishing oven (included with BT-12 model) is required to cure the ink.

Overall, DTG printing is a great option for printing high-quality designs onto fabrics quickly and easily, but it's important to consider its limitations as well.

White Toner Printing

Shop the White Toner Printer I have: 
Uninet iColor 560

White toner printing allows for no-cut, no-weeding full color transfers that can be applied to any color garment or hard goods.

The Uninet iColor 560 White Toner Printer is a 5-in-1 laser printer. One of the most significant advantages of this printer is that it is a versatile and compact printer that requires low to no maintenance. It uses CMYK+W, which means it can print white and colors in a single pass, allowing for use with dark and light-colored hard and soft goods of many material types. 

uninet icolor560, white toner printer, print and cut, laser printer,

The toner powder - not ink - allows cartridges to be swapped out with ease, and the toner does not dry up. The iColor 560 has a very small footprint, making it perfect for home use, and each cartridge can print about 7k sheets. It can also be used to print directly on paper and sticker/label materials.

Like all of the printers, there are of course some disadvantages of white toner printing, including a high learning curve and not being MAC compatible.  It requires a high-quality heat press, and the initial start-up cost is at least $3700 (if you already have a heat press). 

Speciality ink cartridges such as sublimation toner and fluorescent toner are sold separately (and extremely expensive), and printable materials can be pricey. The multi-step process involved in white toner printing can be time-consuming, and the marrying process can be finicky, making it a less-than-ideal option for those looking for a quick and straightforward printing process.

If you're just getting started with White Toner Printing start here

Ecosolvent Print and Cut Machine

The 20" Roland BN-20A is an all-in-one printer and cutter that uses solvent ink, making it ideal for printing on a variety of materials such as vinyl, heat transfer vinyl, banners, paper and window clings. 

roland, roland bn-20a, roland bn-20, ecosolvent printer, print and cut machine, printable vinyl

The ink used is waterproof, fade-resistant, and scratch-resistant.  The ink cartridges are relatively low-cost, and each 221ml cartridge can print high volumes. 
It can print and cut professional-quality vinyl stickers, decals, and heat transfers along. It's one of the most versatile printers I have given that it can be used on hard goods and textiles with no fabric type or color limitations. 

Now for the downsides - the Roland BN-20A has a learning curve specifically when it comes to creating cut lines. It is not MAC compatible, nor does it include ink cartridges out of the box while the start-up cost is at least $5200. The printing and cutting time is slower than most stand-alone printers and cutters, and secondary software will be required to create cut lines that Versaworks can read.

To learn more about the 20" Roland BN-20A EcoSolvent Print and Cut Machine start here

Direct to Film Printers:

Shop the Desktop DTF Printers I have:
If you're looking for a full color printer that creates t shirt transfers that require no cutting and no weeding a DTF printer may be a good option - if and only if you are planning to print nearly every day. 

DTF printers print transfers onto film that can be applied quickly and easily to any color or type of garment including darks and cottons. The application is so easy that DTF prints are often sold to the end user to self-apply with an iron. 

Direct to Film, DTF printers, Epson F2100, Prestige A3+, Uninet 100, Roland BN-20D

There's a very low cost per print and once applied the transfers have a soft hand and good stretchability.  Some DTF printers, like the Prestige A3+ R and Uninet 1000, can print off a roll which offers the ability to hook up to an automatic inline shaker and oven setup allowing for faster production and scale.

Now for the cons to DTF printing. Most DTF printers are NOT MAC compatible and require a lot of maintenance and attention. DTF printers are so new the technology and software is having a hard time keeping up with the demand and new models and updates are hitting the market what feels like monthly. At this time of this writing, having used and gotten familiar with four different desktop DTF printers, I have to say the rush seems to be leading to some quality control issues.  The Epson F2100, in my opinion, is the easiest to use and easiest to maintain...but it's also the most expensive.

Direct to Film, DTF printer comparison, Epson F2100, Prestige A3+, Uninet 100, Roland BN-20D

There are also some long term health and safety uncertainties around curing the hot melt DTF powder. Due to that, it's highly recommended you work in a well ventilated area or use an air filter when curing the powder.

The startup cost is at least $3200 for a beginner DTF printer and the better quality machines like the Epson F2100 start around $10k - although that machine works on a MAC and doubles as a DTG printer as well. Like the BN-20A is as close to a do it all printer, the Epson F2100 DTF and DTG printer is the closest thing you will get to an all in one t shirt printer for small business. 

Print and Cut Sticker Printer

A print and cut sticker printer is a machine that can both print and cut stickers, labels, rolls, and sheets in one process, which can save a significant amount of time. The iColor 250 is a printer that offers this capability without requiring registration marks.

icolor 250, sticker machine, print and cut, stickers, sticker business

The pros of this printer include its ease of use, portability, and compact size. It is also fast and offers both dye and pigment ink options that can be easily swapped.  It can create waterproof stickers and labels, as well as magnets, and is compatible with both PC and MAC.

However, its maximum printing width is only about 4.5 inches wide so the size is the biggest limiting factor along with what I consider a price tag that's honestly well above where it should be.

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. By clicking on them and purchasing products through my links, I receive a small commission. That's what helps fund Silhouette School so I can keep buying new Silhouette-related products to show you how to get the most out of your machine!

Get Silhouette School lessons delivered to your email inbox! Select Once Daily or Weekly.

No comments

Thanks for leaving a comment! We get several hundred comments a day. While we appreciate every single one of them it's nearly impossible to respond back to all of them, all the time. So... if you could help me by treating these comments like a forum where readers help readers.

In addition, don't forget to look for specific answers by using the Search Box on the blog. If you're still not having any luck, feel free to email me with your question.