Epson Vs. Sawgrass: Sublimation Printer Comparisons


I saw this shared in a Facebook group a while back and I saved it because it’s the best explanation of printer options I have seen. (And yes, I did get permission to share!):

“I have posted this many times in this group and others to give someone new to the Sublimation World a glimpse at both sides of the argument between the Sawgrass (Ricoh) SG400/800 and the Epson WF-7xxx series printers.

My qualifications for writing this are simple. I own both a Sawgrass SG400 and an Epson WF-7110 using Cobra Ink. I have about the same amount of experience using each. I am a print professional with over 15 years selling production color printers to commercial print shops, in-plant facilities and local quick prints. I have creative experience in the print world; most recently as a book publisher helping independent authors get their works on paper and in distribution channels. I've been an IT guy since before a lot of folks here were born (yea, I'm that old). 🙂

So, let's talk about the printers:

Sawgrass SG400 - $550.00 USD 

Basically a rebranded Ricoh 3100/3110, Sawgrass took the Ricoh 3100/3110 and developed a set of dye sublimation inks for it and cornered the market with their patent protected inks. While a great printing system, it's expensive to operate and maintain. If you do not use your SG series printer, it will continue to do automatic cleanings and over time will sap away at your ink levels. Turning the printer off will stop the auto cleanings, but at the cost of a potentially major clog that will require even more cleanings. It will print 8.5x11" max or 8.5x14" with the tray extended.

Sawgrass SG800 - $1599.00 USD

Same as above, but with 11x17" print capability out of the box; 13x19" with optional bypass tray (+$208 USD) $1807 to get 13x19" printing.

Epson WF-7110/7210

Epson is a very well known, very established printer in the print market. the WF-7xxx series is a 13"x19" printer straight out of the box. The difference between the different epson models are simple: The WF-71xx/72xx are printer only models while the WF-76xx/77xx have Copy/Scan/Fax capabilities as well. They are; inkjet printers, nothing different or special. For dye-sublimation, you remove the Durabright Pigment ink cartridges that come supplied and you replace with dye sublimation ink cartridges. For the sake of the remainder of this comparison; we'll be speaking of the Cosmos Ink Sublimation Cartridges. They are a direct swap.

The Financials: 

I can buy 3 Epson WF-71xx/72xx printers for the cost of 1 SG-400. With the Epson, I can do 13x19" out of the box. The SG-400 is limited to 8.5x14". 

For the cost of just one set of Sawgrass Inks, I can buy 6 sets or more of Cosmos Inks.

  • Sawgrass Sublijet HD Standard Capacity Ink: $77.00 per color x CMYK = $288.00 for a set of inks.
  • Epson WF-71xx/72xx Cosmos Ink Prefilled, refillable cartridges: $75.00 for all four colors. After the first run of inks; your costs go down from there as we can refill those cartridges.

So, let's say I do have to replace an Epson printer, I can do that 3 times before coming close to my investment. To look at it another way, I can have three 13x19 capable printers, working side by side, with redundancy always, and my cost of operation on ink alone is 67% less than that of Sawgrass.

If we compare the cost of moving to the SG800 and comparing your costs to that of the Epson, It's a game winning grand-slam in the bottom of the ninth, two outs, in Game Seven of the World Series for the Epson WF-71xx/72xx.

PROS and CONS of each

  • SG400 - EXPENSIVE $499 (8.5"x14" Max size)
  • SG400 INKS - SUPER EXPENSIVE $288+++ to replace all colors
  • SG400 TECH SUPPORT - GREAT, can't deny that.
  • EPSON WF-7110 - $149.00 (13"x19" Max size) 
  • COSMOS INKS - $48.00 to replace all colors
  • TECH SUPPORT - Internet forums and chat rooms, but honestly, it's a printer. It doesn't require Power Driver or a special software; just File, Print and go.

I would say this. If you aren't very tech savvy, or would simply rather be able to call someone to help you with tech support on your printer, then you cannot beat Sawgrass Tech Support. While they may sometimes be hard to reach; once you get them, they can trouble shoot most any problem you have printer related.

With the Epson, you are on your own. For a lot of people, that's not a big deal. Again, it's just a printer. Don't let the special inks fool you. It's just a printer. One more time so it sinks in. It's just a printer. You trouble shoot it just like any other printer.

From a simple financial slam dunk, you'd be hard press to pay so much more for a printer that doesn't offer any additional quality in print output.

If you need hand-holding tech for everything, Sawgrass had great support. If you are printer/software savvy enough to do your own basic support, the Epson is wonderful. 

Either way, do your research and don't listen to one review and consider it as the way things are. Take it in stride and look at it from both sides. Good luck.

Two different schools of thought.  Your choice.”

- Tim Lippard 

** Some links are affiliate links; by using them, I receive a small % of the purchase price, for no extra money out of your pocket. **

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