With quite a variety of printers available today, printing seems to be easy peasy but, it is the behind the scenes of printers that are nothing but a heavy set of burdens to carry out which you need guidance and is what we are going to discuss below.
Every Little Thing Matters
We often bring home/office any random printer and when getting unsatisfactory results, wonder what went wrong? Hardly do we know that every minute thing in a printer affects the printing output, especially the ink. Surprised? Well, the type of ink you use can significantly affect the printed output which you would not want. Hence, let us understand the two leading types of ink and which one you must choose for what and how?
Before that, here is a quick intro about inkjet printers
Inkjet is a compact size and low-cost printer that is a popular solution for home printing. They use two types of ink cartridges – dye or pigment to recreate a digital image by propelling droplets of ink onto paper and plastic substrate.
The Avatars of Inks
The market is flooded with various types of inks like dye-based, pigment-based, solid, UV, 3-D, etc. but, the two among them that you might be hearing/seeing everywhere or between whom the debate of who being the best is going on for a very long time are Dye-based and Pigment-based inks. Both are, in fact, good to be used in an inkjet printer but, if you do not want disappointment as an output, then better understand both in detail and decide which one is the best match for your inkjet printer.
Dye-based ink you might have got the idea already by its name that it is in liquid form which is mixed with water means such ink cartridges are nothing but 95% water! Shocking isn’t it? Dye ink is like sugar dissolving in water because they use colour substances that are dissolved in a liquid. They provide a wider colour space for more vibrant and colourful prints and are suitable for indoor use on products that must be consumed in less than a year as they can come off when getting in contact with water unless printed on the specially-coated label material. In short, dye-based prints are water-resistant as long as the label does not rub against anything disturbing.
Pigments, on the other hand, are solid. Pigment-based ink is powdery and dry in form and hence appears like sand mixed in water. It is a collection of extremely small solid particles that are mixed in with water inside the pigment-based ink cartridges and are held in suspension which are then printed. They create long-lasting effect and are UV resistant hence are suitable for outdoor
Dye Vs Pigment
Both dye and pigment do not compromise on quality but, if we get into details, then dye-ink prints appear more vivid and colourful than pigment-based. The quality and performance of dye-based inks shine a little better than pigment because it provides a wider colour gamut than pigment-inks. Dye-based inks are best for text-based creations and sharper prints because the black print is a lot sharper and darker than pigmented ink, while conversely, pigmented ink is best used to blend colours. There is nothing that can match custom pigment ink for colour depths and blends which is why it is best suited for photo printing.
All inks, whether dye or pigment, will begin to fade over time but when compared, pigment ink delivers longevity. It is better prepared for sunlight and has UV resistant properties means pigment particles don’t get absorbed and only sit on the paper in layers and hence are resistant to external influences such as environmental gases and ultraviolet rays from the sun and hence fading is slow in pigment than in dye-based prints. Whereas dye ink gets absorbed into the fiber and hence generally is recommended for indoor use because exposure to direct sunlight or bright indoor lights start cause dye ink to fade quickly.
The biggest fear for any printed product is water. Well, in this case, pigment-ink is a clear winner as it is more water-resistant than dye-ink. Dyes have a tendency to dissolve and flow when they come in contact with water while pigments are more resistant means they have less smudging potential than dyes.
Of course, long-term things cost more which is why you will have to spend some extra on pigment ink than dyes because of their durability. Moreover, producing pigmented inks requires more labor time and is a complex process hence the cost.
Pigment ink is the choice of professional and hobbyist photographers due to its colour consistency and blending ability despite the vibrancy dye-ink provides to the prints. While low-cost dye-based inks are marketed more towards enthusiasts or amateurs. Also, pigment ink is preferred, in fact, more suitable for industrial or heavy-duty outdoor printing whereas dye-ink are used majorly in text-based documents or on indoor things.
Declaring a winner becomes difficult when the contenders are equally strong and impressive because when it comes to print longevity, colour stability, and resistance to natural elements, pigment is the champion but considering the quality and expense, dye-ink wins the debate. So, the verdict is both are winners depending on their use cases means choose pigment if you want long-lasting, smudge-free prints on glossy paper and choose dye if the price is your concern, and your focus is on colour quality.