Pigment ink versus dye ink; key differences

Pigment ink versus dye ink; key differences

Sep 21, 2023

In this article we'll dive into some key differences between dye ink and pigment ink.

Comparisons of pigment ink and dye ink

Particle size

Pigment ink: Composed of particles with sizes ranging from nanometers to micrometers. Particle size varies, with nano-scale particles (40 to 125 nm) and micron-scale particles (0.125 to 0.300 microns).
Dye ink: Consists of individual molecules that fully dissolve in the ink. These molecules are tiny, typically 1 to 2 nanometers in diameter.

Waterproof performance

Pigment ink: Insoluble in water, offers strong water resistance and does not easily smudge when exposed to moisture.
Dye ink: Water-soluble, prone to dissolving when in contact with moisture, leading to smudging.

Chemical properties

Pigment ink: Exhibits good chemical and optical stability, high water and light resistance, safety, and sharp colour and density. Resistant to UV and ozone exposure.
Dye ink: Susceptible to chemical changes upon exposure to light and ozone, causing colour shifts and fading.

Printing effects of pigment ink versus dye ink

Pigment ink: Easily absorbed by materials after printing, vibrant colour reproduction, especially on smooth paper, resulting in colourful images.
Dye ink: Lacks the polymer protection of pigment ink, making it prone to molecular decomposition and fading under harsh conditions.

Printhead blockage

Pigment ink: Larger particles can cause printhead clogs, potentially affecting print colours.
Dye ink: Less likely to clog printheads, and if clogs occur, they are more manageable.

Colour rendering principle

Pigment ink: Colorants or pigments physically attach to the surface of the medium and develop colour through a polymer binder.
Dye ink: Penetrates the molecular gaps of the medium, precipitates, and forms colour.


Dye ink and pigment ink serve distinct roles in printing. Dye ink is water-soluble and doesn't require dispersion, while pigment ink needs fine dispersion. Pigment ink excels in sharp, waterproof, and light-resistant prints but may clog printheads (we've got maintenance solutions, no worries), whereas dye ink is prone to fading and smudging but less likely to cause printhead issues. Each type has its strengths and weaknesses, making them suitable for different printing needs.

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When you're in search of pigment ink, direct-to-garment (DTG), film-to-fabric (DTF), inks and supplies: you're in good hands at industrialinks.com. Any questions? Please feel free to reach out to our specialists via the contact form.

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