Best Inkjet Printer for Heat Transfer in 2022

By Iva Mikles •  Updated: Aug 25, 2022 •  Guides

The beauty and quality of heat transfer products, made correctly on a suitable printer for heat transfer, will ensure that they are a hit, and the investment in even the best heat transfer equipment is actually quite low.

So let’s look at which inkjet printer you should get to print on heat transfer paper!

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Top 4 Printers for Heat Transfer Compared

This is a quick comparison of my favorite printers that print on heat transfer paper. Find more picks in the overview below.

Budget Pick
Also Great
My Pick
Art Studio Pick
Description:

Budget Pick for Art Prints, Cardstock, Canvas, Stickers, Vinyl, and Transfer paper

6-color dye-based ink system :: 5760×1450 DPI :: Borderless prints up to 13×19 (A3+) :: Max paper thickness: rear feed 23mil (0.6mm) manually :: Late 2017 model :: Wireless & AirPrint

Description:

Upgrade Pick for Stickers, Vinyl, Cricut, and Transfer paper

6-color dye-based ink system :: 9600×2400 DPI :: Borderless prints up to 13×19 (A3+) :: Supports vinyl stickers :: Early 2014 model :: Wireless & AirPrint

Description:

My Pick for Art Prints, Canvas, Cardstock, Stickers, Vinyl, and Transfer paper

10-color pigment-based ink system :: 5760×1440 DPI :: Borderless prints up to 13″×19″ (A3+) :: Max paper thickness: 50mil (1.3mm) :: Integrated roll feed :: Early 2020 model :: Wireless & AirPrint

Description:

Art Studio Pick for Art Prints, Canvas, Cardstock, Stickers, Vinyl, and Transfer paper

10-color pigment-based ink system :: 5760×1440 DPI :: Borderless prints up to 17×22 (A2+) :: Max paper thickness: rear feed 11.8mil (0.3mm); manual feed 60mil (1.5mm) :: Late 2020 model :: Wireless & AirPrint

Budget Pick
Description:

Budget Pick for Art Prints, Cardstock, Canvas, Stickers, Vinyl, and Transfer paper

6-color dye-based ink system :: 5760×1450 DPI :: Borderless prints up to 13×19 (A3+) :: Max paper thickness: rear feed 23mil (0.6mm) manually :: Late 2017 model :: Wireless & AirPrint

Also Great
Description:

Upgrade Pick for Stickers, Vinyl, Cricut, and Transfer paper

6-color dye-based ink system :: 9600×2400 DPI :: Borderless prints up to 13×19 (A3+) :: Supports vinyl stickers :: Early 2014 model :: Wireless & AirPrint

My Pick
Description:

My Pick for Art Prints, Canvas, Cardstock, Stickers, Vinyl, and Transfer paper

10-color pigment-based ink system :: 5760×1440 DPI :: Borderless prints up to 13″×19″ (A3+) :: Max paper thickness: 50mil (1.3mm) :: Integrated roll feed :: Early 2020 model :: Wireless & AirPrint

Art Studio Pick
Description:

Art Studio Pick for Art Prints, Canvas, Cardstock, Stickers, Vinyl, and Transfer paper

10-color pigment-based ink system :: 5760×1440 DPI :: Borderless prints up to 17×22 (A2+) :: Max paper thickness: rear feed 11.8mil (0.3mm); manual feed 60mil (1.5mm) :: Late 2020 model :: Wireless & AirPrint

Table of Contents

Overview: Best Inkjet Printer for Heat Transfer in 2022

Budget Pick: Epson Expression Photo HD XP 15000

Budget Pick
Epson Expression XP-15000 13″ Inkjet Color Printer

Budget Pick for Art Prints, Cardstock, Canvas, Stickers, Vinyl, and Transfer paper

6-color dye-based ink system :: 5760×1450 DPI :: Borderless prints up to 13×19 (A3+) :: Max paper thickness: rear feed 23mil (0.6mm) manually :: Late 2017 model :: Wireless & AirPrint

Get it on Amazon

Remarkably affordable for a printer of this quality – with beautiful colors, stunning, high-resolution printing, and superior materials and construction – the Epson Expression Photo XP 15000 has a six-color system of dye-based inks for not only outstanding color range, accuracy, and subtlety but also colors that are water-proof and washable, sun and fade resistant, and the XP 15000 will print up to 13 by 19 inches. 

Approaching the extraordinary level of performance and overall print quality of the three more expensive printers below, and at a much lower price, the Epson XP 15000 is perfect for superb fine art prints, heat transfer, and much more.

Also Great: Canon Pixma IP8720

Value Pick
Canon Pixma IP8720 13″ Inkjet Color Printer

Value Pick for Stickers, Vinyl, Cricut, and Transfer paper

6-color dye-based ink system :: 9600×2400 DPI :: Borderless prints up to 13×19 (A3+) :: Supports vinyl stickers :: Early 2014 model :: Wireless & AirPrint

Get it on Amazon

With amazing performance and specifications for a printer in this price range, including a super high resolution on documents up to 13×19 inches, the Canon IP8720 is not only an affordable printer for heat transfers I know which is really suitable for transfer paper but also one of the very best value on the market today – not to mention an overwhelming favorite among artists. 

While the IP8720 does not use full pigment-based inks, the excellent Canon inks are water-resistant and fade-resistant, and the six ink system allows for great color accuracy and range – really unheard of at this price!

My Pick: Epson SureColor P700

My Pick
Epson SureColor P700 13″ Inkjet Color Printer

My Pick for Art Prints, Canvas, Cardstock, Stickers, Vinyl, and Transfer paper

10-color pigment-based ink system :: 5760×1440 DPI :: Borderless prints up to 13″×19″ (A3+) :: Max paper thickness: 50mil (1.3mm) :: Integrated roll feed :: Early 2020 model :: Wireless & AirPrint

Wider version: SureColor P900 17″ Inkjet Color Printer

Get it on Amazon

With the best color reproduction I’ve ever experienced on this side of a super-costly full commercial printer for heat transfers, the Epson SureColor P700 13-Inch Photo Printer may seem expensive.

Still, it actually represents an astonishing value and allows serious artists to get into the top level of performance and reliability without breaking the bank. 

With resolution up to 5760×1440, an eight-color pigment ink set, a maximum printable area of 13×129″ (A3++), borderless printing of up to 13×19″ (A3+), and superior precision, the P700 is extraordinary for heat transfer and anything else.

Also Great: Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-300

Also Great
Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-300 13″ Inkjet Color Printer

Great for Art Prints, Canvas, Cardstock, Stickers, Vinyl, and Transfer paper

10-color pigment-based ink system :: 4800×2400 DPI :: Borderless prints up to 13×19 (A3+) :: Max paper thickness: rear feed 11.8mil (0.3mm); manual feed 23.6mil (0.6mm) :: Late 2020 model :: Wireless & AirPrint

Get it on Amazon

Stunning image print quality on paper up to 13×19 inches makes this one of the most popular choices for even professional photographers and commercial artists.

At this price, the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-300 is an amazing value and easy recommendation for even the most serious amateurs and a perfect choice for heat transfer and any other work.

Comes with a complete set of nine pigment-based inks.

Art Studio Pick: Epson SureColor P900

Art Studio Pick
Epson SureColor P900 17″ Inkjet Color Printer

Art Studio Pick for Art Prints, Canvas, Cardstock, Stickers, Vinyl, and Transfer paper

10-color pigment-based ink system :: 5760×1440 DPI :: Borderless prints up to 17×22 (A2+) :: Max paper thickness: rear feed 11.8mil (0.3mm); manual feed 60mil (1.5mm) :: Late 2020 model :: Wireless & AirPrint

Smaller version: SureColor P700 13″ Inkjet Color Printer

Get it on Amazon

With a full 10-color system of fine pigment-based inks, the Epson SureColor P900 offers the best color range, accuracy, and beauty you can get anywhere near this price.

And is noticeably superior to the already amazing Pro-300 above.

Heat transfer is perfectly served with the Epson SureColor printers, and the P900 is overall one of the finest printers I’ve ever used and highly recommended.

Best Inkjet Heat Transfer Paper

Here is the list of the best heat transfer papers for printing heat transfers on T-Shirts!

  1. PPD Inkjet Bundle Iron-On Light Color T Shirt Transfers Paper
  2. PPD Inkjet Bundle Iron-On Light Color T Shirt Transfers Paper

    LTR 8.5x11" pack of 100 Sheets + PPD Silicon Papers for T Shirt Transfer Iron or Heat Press - 10 Sheets


    Get it on Amazon

Yes, it really is that simple, a specially designed thin heat transfer paper with a wax coating that you can make a high-quality print on and which allows you to use an iron or press to transfer that print onto fabric or other materials. There are, however, a couple of basic considerations:

An excellent transfer paper for color inkjet printers, available in both light fabric and dark fabric varieties, is PPD Transfer Paper:

Best Heat Press for Heat Transfer Printing

You can use a normal household steam iron to apply your heat transfer prints to fabric, although you might want to keep the steam reservoir empty since steam or moisture might cause problems with the fresh printing. 

  1. Sunbeam Steammaster Steam Iron
  2. Sunbeam Steammaster Steam Iron

    1400 Watt Large Anti-Drip Nonstick Stainless Steel Iron with Steam Control and Retractable Cord, Chrome/Blue


    Get it on Amazon
  3. Fancierstudio Power Heat press
  4. Fancierstudio Power Heat press

    Digital Heat Press 15 x 15 Sublimation Heat Press Rhinestone Heat Press T-Shirt Heat Press 15x15 B/BLK


    Buy Now on Amazon
  5. Fancierstudio Heat Press
  6. Fancierstudio Heat Press

    16x20 Heat Press Sublimation Rhinestone Heat Press 16x20PW BLK


    Buy Now on Amazon

If that’s the direction you go, you should consider getting one just for this purpose rather than using your everyday iron. That said, you do not need to spend a lot, and just a basic but high-quality clothes iron, like the Sunbeam Steammaster 1400 Watt Non-Stick Iron, would be fine.

On the other hand, there are many advantages to using a press, especially if you are a dedicated crafter or hobbyist and may have other uses for good print quality (though still inexpensive) press; this may be the way to go.

A good hobbyist’s press will offer:

A press is, though, more expensive, but if you can find a good, high-quality press for a low price I think it would be an excellent investment and will make your heat transfer products and other arts and crafts projects easier and give better results. 

I recommend the well-made and easy-to-use Fancierstudio 1800 Watt 15×15 Inch Press as the best value, or their Fancierstudio 1800 Watt 16×20 Inch Press for larger designs.

Best T-Shirt for Heat Transfer Printing

For comfort, durability, the ability to take and hold a transfer, and overall hipness, I would always use 100% cotton. If you are selling your heat transfer t-shirts or other products, you will find that customers prefer cotton too and are always more likely to buy a cotton product over polyester or even cotton/poly blend.

Fruit of the Loom

Cotton T-Shirt for Heat Transfer Printing and Painting with Acrylic Paint on Fabric


Buy Now on Amazon

You can find some really nice basic t-shirts to use as blank canvases for your heat transfer designs. Which shirts will make the prints look bold and beautiful, will not shrink, and will be durable and look great for a long time – a sure way to increase repeat business! I would recommend inexpensive but excellent quality shirts like the classic Fruit of the Loom 100% Cotton Heavy-Duty T-Shirt in various sizes and colors, and come in a good value six-pack.

Best Trimmer and Cutter for Heat Transfers

  1. Cricut Maker
  2. Cricut Maker

    Different colors

    Make stickers, paper crafts, iron-ons, vinyl decals, sewing projects, leather crafts, and more!

    


    Get it on Amazon
  3. Cricut Explore Air 2
  4. Cricut Explore Air 2

    Different colors

    Your Personal DIY Cutting machine - flawlessly cut over 100+ different types of materials

    


    Get it on Amazon

Our final bit of kit for the complete heat transfer setup is an amazing arts and crafts tool that is incredibly popular with and loved by crafters and DIYers everywhere yet is rarely mentioned with heat transfer printing projects Cricut computer-controlled cutting machines.

Once you have printed your design onto heat transfer paper, you should trim the excess paper off, and the closer you come to and follow the design, the better. Ragged cutting, too much border, or an outline that is markedly different in shape or flow than the printed design itself will always make the end product look poorer.

Now I’m pretty good with a pair of sharp, good-quality scissors, but I am not perfect, and even at my best, I am often not completely satisfied with my hand-cutting. 

But with a Cricut, I can simply transfer my design – that is, the same design I have already printed onto the heat transfer paper – to their app, and the Cricut will perfectly trim the excess paper off automatically and works with paper up to 11 inches wide – and about a gazillion other materials as well, including thick leather and wood. Still, the precision with even fine materials or the thin paper is amazing.

An incredibly cool and useful device, the Cricut Maker will make your heat transfer projects look much better – more attractive and more professional – and the process quicker and easier. It will also do so much more and may become one of your favorite and most-used tools.

I can’t recommend it highly enough for heat transfer printing and countless other things, and if you need further justification, I’m sure it will pay for itself in no time!

For more information on the wonderful Cricut Maker, please check out my article: The Best Sticker Maker and Sticker Printer

What Are The Specifications of the Best Heat Transfer Printer?

Although you can use almost any normal printer for heat transfers – inkjet or laser printer, small or large, low or high quality – we will focus on quality inkjet printers at various price points. 

Laser printers can be nice, but I’ve seen and heard too many horror stories about special heat transfer paper activating with the laser printer’s normal heat-fusing process and jamming, even destroying, the printer. 

Anyway, I actually prefer the results I get from the inkjet printers for heat transfer, and they are much more popular with artists overall.

There are also other types of printing processes you might hear about, like direct-to-fabric printers and sublimation printing, and they will accomplish the same kinds of results. 

The sublimation printer has a deal-breaking drawback: it only works well with polyester fabrics. And sublimation can be a substantially more expensive process – initial setup and running costs over time. 

And sublimation printers for heat transfer can be fiendishly expensive and are really more suitable for larger operations and full commercial ventures.

So, we come back to heat transfer, which can give you really beautiful printing on fabric and allow you to make really high quality and very marketable products – long-lasting, fully washable and fade and run-resistant – and so we come back also to the inkjet printer for heat transfer. 

You will find that a few things are extremely nice to have in a printer for heat transfer. In fact, if you have had even the slightest notion of upgrading your current printer, this might be a perfect time, considering that the features to look for in the best printer for heat transfer are also what you need in the best printer for artists in general.

Specifically, having these things in your new printer for heat transfers can make a really big difference to the quality and durability of heat transfer products, the beauty of the prints themselves and the ease of the overall process:

Large format printing is easy enough to understand, as you can make larger graphics and have more flexibility in design, and so, of course, are better colors and higher resolution – higher quality printing, with bold and saturated colors, clean lines, and fine details, will make any t-shirt really pop, and will make all of your art prints look better too.

And though many sites and how-tos recommend basically any kind of printer ink and even seem to confuse dye-based ink printers and pigment-based printers, this is actually a very important distinction. 

All of my recommendations for the best printers for heat transfer (except, again, for the inexpensive Canon Pixma IP8720 and Epson Expression XP-15000) use full pigment-based ink systems, so you don’t really need to worry, but let’s talk about it a little more anyway.

Basics of Heat Transfer Printing

What is a Heat Transfer Printer?

Heat transfer printers use a method of printing artworks, logos, words, or designs onto fabric – usually t-shirts – using an inkjet printer. 

You simply print your words and/or images onto a special heat transfer paper and then use an iron or heat press to transfer it onto T-Shirt. Yep, it really is pretty much that simple!

What Do You Need for Heat Transfer Printing?

You will need a normal computer and an inkjet printer for heat transfers to make the print, but again you do need a special paper to print onto, and either a nice handheld iron or a basic heat press to make the transfer. 

If you already have the printer (and essentially any inkjet will do – though not always with the best results), then your start-up costs are really low, but you may want to consider a bit of an upgrade to a printer for heat transfer that will offer higher quality and make the whole thing work better – and especially a printer which works well with pigment based inks, which are water- and fade-resistant.

You can also consider getting a heat press, which does make things easier, and a Cricut, which can really set your work apart – and anyway, a Cricut is a super-cool gadget which does so many things, and will, I’m sure, pay for itself in no time!

What Special Equipment Do You Need for Heat Transfer Printing?

Let’s discuss each of these items separately and consider how they all come together to make the complete heat transfer setup and allow you to make the best heat transfer prints and products.

We’ll consider the following:

What Ink Is Best for Heat Transfer Prints?

While there are a lot of different types of inks that people use in inkjet printers, the most basic breakdown is of two types of ink:

Dye-based inks are standard for most inkjet printers and are definitely aimed more at amateur and casual users; indeed, they look good and will work fine for most art and general printing. 

Pigment-based inks, on the other hand, while a little more expensive, have a beauty and depth of color, which I don’t see in most dye-based inks, and won’t fade either in the sun or over time like their less expensive counterparts will.

Pigment-based inks won’t dissolve, run or fade in water, making them the clear choice for heat transfer on fabric, like t-shirts and other clothing. 

And while you can often find printers with the option of using pigment-based inks, it seems that the print head should be optimized for these inks.

Many printers which normally come with the less expensive dye-based inks have trouble with pigment inks, including clogging and inconsistent printing.

FAQs – Inkjet Printers for Heat Transfer

Can any inkjet printer print on heat transfer paper?

While any inkjet printer will handle heat transfer paper, for the best results, you should get a printer with superior color accuracy, which uses pigment-based inks, and can print onto larger paper—Epson SureColor P700 and Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-300 are some of the most popular ones.

What kind of printer do you use for heat transfer paper?

I recommend using an inkjet printer with pigment-based inks or high-quality dye-based inks for the best results. Some of my favorites are Epson SureColor P700 and Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-300

What is the best printable heat transfer paper?

I recommend PPD heat transfer paper, which is inexpensive but high-quality. It is available in both 8.5 x 11″ and 11 x 17″ and for light and dark fabrics.

Does heat transfer paper need special ink?

You can use any kind of ink cartridge to print onto heat transfer paper, but for best results, you should get a printer with pigment-based ink cartridges, which are water-resistant and fade-resistant.

Is inkjet or laser better for heat transfers?

I find inkjet printers to be better for heat transfers. Laser printers can be OK, but I’ve seen and heard too many horror stories about special heat transfer paper activating with the laser printer’s normal heat-fusing process and jamming, even destroying, the printer. 

Is it better to screen print or heat transfer?

Screen printing will give a more bold and striking image on fabric than heat transfer printing. Screen-printed products can sell for higher prices if you are doing this professionally. Heat transfer, on the other hand, is quite a bit easier, and with the right printer, paper and fabric can also give really beautiful results.

Conclusion

It’s great to try new things, explore new media and techniques, and even take on new types of craft.

However, even with the excellent value offered by my recommendations above, there is still a definite investment in gear – not to mention time and effort. Anyway, we are or want to be successful commercial artists, and so naturally, we ask a couple of basic questions:

If a few factors exist, the answer is a big yes! To actually make money, you should have:

With all of this in play, you can not only have a ton of fun and make really beautiful stuff, but you can also do quite well with any heat transfer printing products and actually make money with them. At the same time, if you get good gear that is really useful to you in other ways – and, like with a good printer for heat transfers, clearly better print quality than the one you already have – the investment makes good sense in other ways as well.

I hope I’ve helped you choose your new inkjet printer for heat transfers, and you will have a lot of fun with your creative projects!

Visit my blog – Art Side of Life – for other buyer’s guides, online courses, articles, and other resources.

Other articles in the Printers and Scanners series:

Hi, I am Iva (rhymes with “viva”). I am an artist, illustrator, founder of Art Side of Life®, and Top Teacher on Skillshare. Since 2009 I've worked as an illustrator, character designer, art director, and branding specialist focusing on illustration, storytelling, concepts, and animation. I believe that we are all creative in infinite numbers of ways, so I've made it my mission to teach you everything I know and help either wake up or develop your creative genius. Learn more about me.

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