Ink Types used in Inkjet Cartridges
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Dye Ink and Pigment Ink are two types of ink that are used in Inkjet Printers. This article discuss the differences between the ink types. If you are more interested in the Ink Cartridge alternatives, go to our Ink Cartridges article.
Dye and Pigment Ink characteristics
Pigment inks are not absorbed by the paper but sit on top as small encapsulated particles while dye based inks are absorbed into the paper’s fibers. This basic difference creates differences in areas such as ink stability, color intensity and contrast. The choice of ink type depends on what result you expect and which characteristics you favor.
Pigment based inks are generally stronger in the following areas compared to dye based ones:
- water fast on most paper media (dye based inks start to run when wetted if not printed on specially coated paper)
- fast drying (up to 100 times faster compared to dye based inks)
- non fading colors
- long life cycle
- low bleeding in the edges of the printed color
Dye based inks are generally stronger in the following areas compared to pigment based ones:
- high brilliance and contrast
- wide color gamut (i.e. the range of colors that can be produced)
- less expensive
A note on above comparison: Intensive research and development is continuously done in printer inks which mean that both dye and pigment inks are steadily becoming better in their weak areas.
Recommendations on what ink type to use
Dye based inks are more often used in monochrome printers and pigment inks in color printers. The main reason for this is that four up to ten different colors (depending on the cartridge system) may be used in a color printer. All colors needs to dry fast so that they don’t bleed into each other.
Pigment inks should be the choice for printer owners who favor long time archival and color stability in their printouts. Please note that the longevity of dye based inks are constantly pushed forward and dye based printouts can currently be expected to last at least 20-30 years if stored under the right conditions.
All in all, remember that ink is just one of three important factors for getting good print results. It’s of equal importance that the quality of the printer hardware and the printer paper also holds a good standard. To learn more about this subject, read our Ink Printing Quality Guide.