Brother MFC-J5910DW Dye Sublimation Trial

We happened to come across an article which indicated that the new Brother printer models were using peizo printheads (As do all Epson Printers) and after a suitable period to assimilate the information, in our case a couple of months, a light came on and we wondered if that meant that Brother printers would work as a good dye sublimation printer? Hold that thought!

Inevitably we decided to have a play and conduct some usage trials using the multifunction MFC-J5910DW printer which is an A3 printer and a A4 copy/scanner. The printer also has a fax which is not particularly relevant to the dye Sublimation Printing, just thought we would mention it.

An immediate benefit of using this printer over other Epson desktop printers in this class, that are available in the market, is the fact that the standard cartridges on the MFC-J5910DW are high capacity cartridges. With capacities of 30ml of Black and 20ml of each of the colours. We also carry the long-body type cartridges which offer much higher ink volumes per cartridge. Black is 100ml and each colour is 70ml.

So we removed the printer from the box and packaging, plugged it in, set up the printer with standard capacity refillable cartridges, filled with a third party dye sublimation ink that is readily available in the market. and let it do its thing. After 4 or 5 minutes the printer politely requested paper in the paper tray. We placed our dye sublimation transfer paper in the tray and confirmed to proceed with a test print. The print was perfect, all colours present and solid.

Using Coral Draw we produced an image of a known mug design that we had done for a local company. We set the print settings to Matte paper, photo quality on the “basic tab” and mirror image on the “advanced tab”, we then printed the image. The image printed perfectly and was then sublimated onto a mug. The print was very sharp, although there were slight colour differences from the originally printed Mug.

We played about with the settings and additionally ticked the vivid box on the “basic tab” and also went for a custom setting on the “advanced tab” going into “colour Settings” and ticking the “Colour Enhancement” box, then increasing density by +1 and brightness by +10. We saved these settings as a pre-set profile on the “profiles tab”. This is a great feature that allows you with one click to set your printer preferences to dye sub printing for mugs.

The image was sublimated onto a mug and came out sharp and crisp with good colour density and good brightness. It looked very good.

We carried out quite a few more prints over the week and sublimated these to mugs, plates, caps etc. Our findings were that the printer worked great in the dye sublimation application, doing all that we asked without hassle. Providing that the printer is used once a week with a full colour print, we can see no reason why this printer should not be working for many years to come.

A note on colours, we are finding that there are wide finished colour differences after sublimating when using different printers, different inks, different transfer papers and media surfaces. Also the software used and how it is set up makes a huge difference. This is down to many things and is a complex subject, however in simple terms it is down to how colour space is represented or interpreted by software and the printer . Also the technical capability of the ink to produce a wide colour range (Gamut) is a major factor.

The answer is to create a colour correction table (an ICC Profile) that the software can read and apply to the print/image. In effect the profile tells the software to correct each of the colours by “x” amount, which should get the colours back to a set standard. Thats it I am going no further on that for now, but we will write more on this later, including offering our profiling service to all.

For now set the software to “Let the printer determine the colours” or something like that and the results will not be bad. You can always adjust the settings manually to suit you and save as a “profile pre-set”, but before you do this please ensure that your software is set to European profiles as opposed to US profiles. Makes a huge difference.

We have a couple of video’s to watch on this subject that will help in setting things up. – go here!

Comments (2)

  1. Jay Pritchard


    Hi there thanks for this information. I have a similar printer called a mfcj6920dw. I want to print my portrait drawings onto mugs using this printer. I’ve been constantly googling information on this but can’t find anything. I will also need to use my printer for normal prints. Hopefully using the gel ink at times won’t damage the machine. Have you had any problems with it??

    • Reply

      Missed your comment, apologies for time taken to offer reply.

      A lot of the brother range of printers are using “piezo” print head technology which is an Epson development. Basically the heads electrically vibrate to push ink through the nozzles on the print head as opposed to using some form of heat to create expansion and contraction to push ink through the print head. Canon and HP typically use a heat process, Bubble jet technology with Canon and thermal technology with HP. Our view and I do stress that this is our view, is that the piezo print head approach offers more choice and flexibility in terms of ink type that can be used.

      Dye sublimation printing will not work if the ink is heated in the print head as it would start the sublimation process as it prints, once again this is a simplified explanation. Sublimation ink needs to be printed without to much heat and then the sublimation transfer process can be controlled up to the point when heat is applied by means of a heat press to start the sublimation transfer process. This is why a piezo print head is required for dye sublimation printing.

      We do specify printers to work with both desktop inks and with dye sublimation inks and all that is required is that the printer has a piezo print head and that adequate cleaning (Print out test pages to clear) is performed to get the newly installed ink through the print head. On an Epson printer with the cartridges sat on the print head it is very easy and requires minimal cleaning. On a Brother printer, not so much owing to the static cartridges feeding ink through pipes to the print head. Takes a lot of cleaning through on each change over.

      I have rambled on a bit to offer a simplified but full explanation and I hope it helps.

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