Dye vs Pigment Inkjet Inks

There are two types of colorants used in water-based inkjet inks: dye and pigment. Elements such as application, substrate, chemistry of the ink vehicle, and even printing conditions at the customer’s facility can impact the overall performance of dye and pigment inkjet inks.

At Colordyne, a variety of our digital print engines use dye or pigment water-based inks to produce applications in a wide range of markets. It is important to understand the differences between the two types of inks in order to select the right one for your business needs.

Our partners at Kao Collins helped us gather information about dye and pigment inkjet inks that can help users evaluate this technology during the decision-making process.

Dye Inks

These are water-based inks that use dyes as the colorant. Dyes are soluble in water and typically lower-cost than pigment inkjet inks, making them ideal for cost-driven applications. The cost-savings and solubility provided by this type of inkjet do come with a trade-off. If printed on uncoated substrates, dye inks can bleed or fade sooner than pigment inks. These elements make dye inkjet a good option for documents, packaging, or labels with a short shelf life, like billing statements and event tickets that are disposed of shortly after use.

Pigment Inks

This type of ink uses insoluble pigments as the colorant. These pigments are powders that are dispersed into a liquid vehicle creating a substance containing tiny colorant particles. Pigment inks are ideal for applications requiring enhanced durability and substrate versatility such as coated mailers and corrugated cardboard packaging, among many others.

Solubility Infographic
Differences between Dye and Pigment Inkjet Inks
Dye Inkjet
  • Soluble
  • Less durability
  • Short-term water and light fastness
  • Dye inks have less fade resistance due to very small color particle size
  • Works best on porous and semi-porous substrates
  • Overall, dye inks are more economical
Pigment Inkjet
  • Not soluble
  • Greater durability
  • Enhanced water and light fastness
  • More fade resistance due to large colorant particle size
  • Works best on porous substrates as well as aqueous and varnish coated materials given the right ink formulations for adhesion
  • Without considering other factors, pigment inks can be less economical
Dye Ink Infographic
Pigment Ink Infographic

Several factors should be taken into consideration when choosing the right type of ink for your business. It is important to evaluate which elements are most important for your market and applications needs. These may include speed, cost, fastness requirements, substrate type, print appearance and more. Having a clear understanding of the benefits each of these inks offer will help you identify whether dye inks or pigment inks are the best option for you.

Need More Information?

Colordyne offers digital inkjet presses using dye and pigment inks, as well as integration-ready inkjet print engines using pigment inks. Contact us today to learn more!

*Colordyne also offers UV LED inkjet technology.