What’s the Difference Between Dye Ink, Pigment Ink, and Sublimation Ink?

Difference Between Dye Ink, Pigment Ink, and Sublimation Ink

When it’s about printing t-shirts and other textile apparel or even printing copies, people either go with dye ink, sublimation ink or pigment ink. All three inks have their own way of giving colors to textiles and other objects. There are some areas that one dictates the other one.

Difference between sublimation ink, dye ink and pigment ink

As all three of them have their own field of excellence, you will need to be wise enough to choose one considering what kind of printing work you deal with. Using the right type of ink will improve the quality of the products significantly.

On the flip side, choosing a wrong ink can ruin your work and bring a bad reputation for your business. 

Dye ink

Dye-based inks have been around since the beginning, as it was introduced at the same time as inkjet printers. Using a dye dissolved in water, together with various optical compounds, these inks create a brighter and more vibrant color on the page. 

They are more likely to smear and tend to fade kind of fast if it is exposed to too much sunlight. They also take longer to dry than pigment-based inks and it will run if they come into contact with water. 

However, the recent advances in technology have meant that certain dye-based inks like those found in HP ink cartridges and Epson ink cartridges have improved fade resistance. 

Sublimation Ink

The sublimation ink is the most commonly used ink that is seen for textile products. It transfers ink from paper to fabrics. Sublimation ink is water-soluble that is created from raw and natural materials like plants, or some other synthetic materials. The colorant, mixed with the water, gives the ink colors. 

Compared to most other dye-based inks, you will find that this one lasts longer. The ink is able to produce bright, vivid, brilliant photo-quality colors and saturated colors. The printers with this ink easily outstand cracking, peeling, and washing away by water. 

As for printing, some people were able to use Brother printers for sublimation. Most Brother printers do use piezo printing technology. 

Meanwhile, all Epson printers use Piezo print technology which is why so many people turn them into sublimation ink printers. But Epson does not sell these as sublimation printers, expect no tech support and no warranty as soon as you pour sublimation ink into an Epson printer. 

Still, the cost to get up and running with an Epson, is reasonable and makes it easy to accept the risks associated with voiding any warranties. As for support, there are videos and Facebook groups abound and you should have all the help you need. 

Even though there will be plenty of help online, having a basic understanding of Epson’s Piezo technology that can help you understand the basics. 

Pigment ink

A pigment ink printer is distinct from the alternative dye-based ink printer, seeing as it uses a slightly different type of ink.

While each has its pros and cons and neither is obviously superior to the other, it is true that many photographers in particular will prefer pigment ink.

This means you need to go out of your way to seek out those printers and inks, seeing as the standard default ink for an inkjet printer is dye-based.

Pigment ink is found in top-end photo printers, capable of high quality output onto a variety of media. It also has durable output as pigment inks don’t smudge and are lightfast- ideal for photos that will be on display. 

Pigment ink also gives consistent results with all finishes of media including gloss, matte, lustre or even fine art canvas. Also, having multiple black inks offer the best results for B&W photography.


Depending on your working requirements and purpose, you need to decide whether to go with sublimation or pigment ink. If you run a t-shirt business, and you need to print polyester or mixed blended t-shirts, then sublimation ink is the one to choose from.

However, if you deal with cotton fabrics, pigmented ink suits the best for this case. The same goes for printing documents as well.

If you are in Reno and you’re looking for a Copier for your business, you may contact Clear Choice Technical Services in Reno. You can ask about Copier Leasing Services in Reno, Copier rental services in Reno.