Pigment Inks VS. Dye-based Inks
If you’re looking to buy an inkjet printer you might have considered everything from price to quality to page yield but have you considered the “ink type” that your inkjet printer uses?
Inkjet printers use either dye-based inks or pigmented inks and understanding the difference between the two is essential to achieving what you want with your inkjet printer.
Here are the major differences between dye inks and pigment inks:
1) Water Solubility
Dye inks are water-soluble, meaning that they dissolve easily in water. What this means is if you have an image printed with dye ink and it gets wet than the ink will start to dissolve and the print will be ruined.
Because dye based inks are water soluble, they are also more likely to mix with other dye based inks once printed. For instance lets say you have a picture and one spot uses yellow ink and the spot adjacent uses cyan ink, it is common for there to be a slight mixing that occurs at the boundaries where the yellow and cyan touch and mix to give a greenish colour. This doesn’t actually ruin the image and you may not actually be able to see the mixing with the human eye, however comparing a dye and pigment printout you may notice one was a bit more “crisp”.
That’s because pigment inks are designed differently and do not dissolve – they actually adhere and sit or stick to the surface of the paper making them resistant to water and other elements. Instead of ink seeping into the page as with dye based inks, pigments sit on top of the page and dry there.
Let’s get a little more technical shall we? Dye-based inks tend to fade quicker as the molecules that make up the dyes spread out making them more open to being exposed to the elements like light. With inkjet cartridges that carry pigment-based inks the molecules that make them up are fairly larger and these larger molecules protect the ink from the elements. This makes pigmented inks a great choice for inkjet prints like photos and archival prints that need to last for many many years.
2) Paper Type
Most inkjet printer users use regular porous printing paper. This is available in bulk for cheap and is a good buy for everyday use. Both dye and pigment inks work on cheaper porous paper. Dye-based inks dry quicker but don’t give the same clarity and vibrancy as pigment based inks. Pigment inks work on almost any type of paper
As mentioned above, dye inks are water-based and dissolve into the paper while pigment inks don’t absorb into the paper but remain attached to the paper’s surface. This causes one of the drawbacks of pigmented inks: since particles sit on top of the page, a printout is more prone to smudging immediately following the printout and until the page has dried thoroughly.
This smudging can be mitigated by choosing a high quality photo paper. Glossy photo papers are similar to a bee’s honeycomb with each compartment locking in a drop of ink. The glossy layer that covers the entire page then traps the ink below and causes the page to be less prone to smudging immediately following the print.
How to choose which ink is best and which inkjet printer to buy?
Understand that more advanced inkjet printer cartridges tend to use ink cartridges that house pigmented inks. In fact modern printers today don’t only come with the patent three colours – cyan, magenta and yellow and black cartridge but can house up to 7 cartridges. Pigment ink cartridges are great for everyday use and for advanced applications like high-quality photo printing and graphics.
Most of the major brands including Epson, HP and Canon rely on the dependability and efficiency of pigmented ink cartridges.