Pigment Ink vs Dye Ink: Which one Should be a Better Choice?

Pigment Ink vs Dye Ink: Which one Should be a Better Choice

Only a few years ago, there were just a few manufacturers who used to make a specific type of ink for printers. Just as there was a small market for printers, the market for ink was also small and fixed. 

These days, when it comes to ink for your printer, you have quite a few options. Pigment ink and dye ink are just two types of them, whereas you also have the options of water-based ink, solvent-based ink, latex ink, oil- based inks, UV inks and hot melt ink. 

Pigment and dye ink are two popular types of ink used in printers, although it might be difficult to distinguish between them simply by looking at a printout, or even by looking at their cartridges.  

However, when you learn about these two types of inks, what they are made of, which kind of printing they should be used and other similar information, you can make an informed decision between them. 

What is Pigment Ink? 

Pigment ink, or pigment-based ink, is made with pigment powder, which are solid particles that are collected together to make the ink.

Compared to other kinds of inks, especially dye ink, pigment ink binds better with paper and creates a permanent print. 

Pigment ink smudges less and is therefore used for printing documents and texts, especially in offices, businesses and households.

Besides, because it is almost smudge-proof, pigment ink is also used in printing highly detailed photographs that have a lot of color in them. 

Pigment ink is also used in sticker paper and glossy paper because the ink doesn’t smudge.

This is also the reason that pigment ink is more expensive than any other kind of printer ink, but it is still popular and a favorite all over the world. 

What is Dye Ink? 

Whereas pigment ink is a relatively new type of printer ink in the market, dye-based ink or dye ink has been used for decades in inkjet printers.

Dye ink is the ink that can be dissolved in water as well as in different optical compounds, which is why printing with this kind of ink gives out a vibrant and bright result. 

When used for printing text documents, the result is sharper and brighter than printing with pigment ink. 

There is also a downside to using dye ink for printing. Because dye ink is thinner and therefore, not so durable, the ink may start to fade after a while.

Especially when exposed to sunlight, dye ink fades away to almost nothing within a very short time. Smudging is also possible in the case of dye ink because the ink – being a water-based content – takes a long time to dry on paper. 

How are Pigment Ink and Dye Ink Different? 

Only an experienced eye might be able to distinguish between the two types of ink after they’ve been used to print a document or an image.

However, they are still different in many ways and should ideally be used for specific purposes. 

1. Water Soluble vs. Water Resistant 

If a printed piece of paper is immersed in water, it will be completely damaged. If the piece of paper is only underwater for a few seconds and might be saved.

However, if dye-based ink gets any water on it, the ink will entirely dissolve over time.

The ink will also smudge and spread over the entire document with contact to water. Even after drying, the document will resemble an inky gibberish rather than words or numbers. 

On the other hand, pigment ink is as water-resistant as it is possible with paper. Because pigment ink is thicker than dye ink and can bind to paper better, water will not cause the ink to smudge or spread.

The water might end up damaging the paper altogether, but the ink will stay intact on the damaged paper. 

2. Fading 

Dye-based ink or dye ink is known to fade away after some time, especially if it is exposed to direct sunlight.

Since the molecules of dye ink are smaller and don’t hold on to the fiber of paper very well, sunlight or other similar factors can easily make the ink fade away. 

Pigment-based ink, because their molecules are much larger, holds on to the fibers of paper more. Although the ink might fade away a little over the years, the documents will still be perfectly readable even after decades.

This is why pigment ink is mostly used in printing photographs and important documents because they need to last decades, both in normal and extreme temperatures. 

3. Printing Quality

Between pigment ink and dye ink, the quality of printing is very similar to each other.

However, when you are thinking of something in particular to print, that’s when you’ll need to decide between these two types of ink. 

For printing text documents, i.e. official documents, reports, etc. dye-based ink is most used. Because dye ink gives out a brighter and more vivid print, it’s easier to read documents printed with this ink.

Also, because these kinds of printouts are rarely exposed to the sun for a long time, the ink wouldn’t fade away too quickly. 

On the other hand, for printing images, designs and photographs, there’s nothing better than pigment ink. Pigmented ink can blend very well with each other, which results in the perfect print of images, as well. 

4. Price 

Overall, pigment-based ink – regardless of the brand – costs more than dye-based ink. This is mainly because pigment ink is more complex to produce, takes more time to make, and goes through more steps than dye ink. 

Pigment Ink vs Dye Ink: Which one Should be a Better Choice?

The choice between pigment ink and dye ink depends completely on why you require ink. 

  • If you want to print a document that needs to be vibrant and bright, and easy to read, you need dye ink. 
  • If you want to print photographs or images, the go to ink would be pigment ink. 
  • If you want an ink that dries quickly, you need dye ink in your printer. 
  • If you want your photos to be durable and last long, try pigment ink.
  • If you don’t have a very high budget, stick to dye ink. 
  • If you want water-resistant ink to print price tags, address labels, flyers or brochures, it is important to choose pigment ink. 

Most importantly, the choice is clear between looking for an ink that will give a vibrant and bright print, and an ink that will be durable and water-resistant.

For the former choice, dye ink is a perfect choice and for the latter, definitely pigment ink. 


In short, your choice of ink – between pigment ink and dye ink – depends on where you want to use that ink, what you want to print, and how you want the ink to behave after printing.

For completely different purposes, both Pigment and Dye Ink are quite effective in their own way. For absolutely vibrant printing of documents, dye inks are a clear winner and for printing images, pigment ink should always be chosen.

In the same way, these inks are different when it comes to their durability, price and reaction to water. 

Leave a Comment