If you’re shopping for printer ink, you’ll know that there is a wide variety of options for you to choose from. Two of the main contenders are pigment based inks and dye ink. Depending on your individual needs, your ideal choice may differ. It is important to know the differences both inks before purchasing as one may be more suitable than the other, depending on what your needs are. In this article, we look at the difference between dye and pigment based inks, so read on to find out more.

What Are Pigment Based Inks?

First up, let’s have a look at what pigment based inks are. Pigment based inks use solid particles of pigment powder that are suspended in the ink itself and then printed onto your surface of choice. Pigment based inks are known to be a lot more durable than dye based inks as it is less likely to fade and has a lower chance of smudging whilst drying. This makes pigment based ink the ideal type of ink to use for photo printing and documents that need to be stored for a long time. Pigment based inks are also fantastic for use on stickers, transparencies and glossy surfaces in general. One thing to consider when choosing pigment based inks is that they are generally more costly than dye ink and colours are often not as vivid.

What Are Dye Based Inks?

Since the days of inkjet printers, people have been using dye based inks. Dye based inks comprise of dye that is dissolved in water and then mixed in with optical compounds, ensuring a bright and vivid image with every print. Dye based inks are likelier to smear than pigment based dyes, and tend to fade quicker as well. Dye based inks take longer to dry than pigment based inks and will run if they come into contact with water. However, fret not because modern dye based inks have been formulated to be fade resistant and technologies are always improving.

Which Option Is Best For Me?

Depending on your individual needs, the ideal choice will differ. If you’re looking to print photographs for albums or documents that need to be archived, we suggest choosing a pigment based ink. This is also especially important if you know that your documents are going to be exposed to sunlight. If you’re looking for ink that dries quickly, pigment is also the best option. However, if time is not an issue and you are looking to print vivid documents that you don’t intend to store for a long time or have exposed to sunlight, dye is definitely the way to go.

If you are still unsure of what kind of ink to use, fret not, because most printer manufacturers will state on their recommendations for the printer you have purchased, thus taking the stress out of having to decide for yourself.


We hope that this quick and simple guide to the differences between dye and pigment based inks has been insightful. Depending on your individual needs, your choice of inks will differ. Thankfully, regardless of your needs, there is always the perfect ink for any of your jobs.