blogs > Pigment Ink vs. Dye Ink - Which One Suits My Needs?

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Quickly understand the differences between pigments and dyes
When it comes to industrial applications, Uniplus' water-based ink cartridges offer a choice between pigment and dye inks. In this article, you can learn about these options to select the ink that meets your specific needs.

Pigment Ink vs. Dye Ink - Which One Suits My Needs?

The difference between pigments and dyes


Pigment ink is insoluble in water, making it akin to finely ground colored sand suspended or dispersed in a liquid medium, such as water or organic solvents. During printing, it binds to printing materials through a binder. Because it doesn't dissolve in water, pigments may precipitate. Therefore, it's advisable to shake some pigment inks before use to ensure all pigments at the bottom of the ink bottle are thoroughly mixed with the liquid to prevent a decline in print quality or an increase in printer failure rates.

Pigment inks are commonly used in outdoor environments because light and ozone only affect the surface molecular structure of pigments, leaving the internal colorant unaffected. This imparts excellent lightfastness, making pigment inks more resistant to fading than dyes. For long-lasting use with no fading concerns, Uniplus recommends pigment ink cartridges.

After printing, pigment ink dries to form small, imperceptible particles on the printing surface. When light hits this rough surface composed of these particles, incident light scatters, causing the color to appear somewhat dull. To address this, Uniplus has improved the ink formula to enhance the color saturation and gloss of pigment inks.


Dye ink particles are hydrophilic and significantly smaller. This property enables them to dissolve in water or other mediums easily. After infiltrating and precipitating between the medium's fibers, they create vibrant colors. Dye inks are less likely to clog printer nozzles, and even if they do, it's easier to resolve such issues. However, they may exhibit bleeding when exposed to water.

In contrast to pigments that have polymers on the surface for protection, dyes are more sensitive to oxidation and light. Consequently, dyes tend to fade more when exposed to direct sunlight in outdoor or well-lit indoor settings.

After fusion with the medium, dye inks result in a smoother print surface that evenly reflects light, reducing light scattering. This makes the expected and actual outcomes of dye ink printing closely aligned. In other words, dye inks have potent color reproduction capabilities, making them ideal for bright colors and applications requiring high saturation and transparency.

The characteristics of pigment and dye inks can be summarized in the following table:




Particle Characteristics

Insoluble particles, similar to finely ground colored sand, are suspended in a liquid medium. Hydrophilic, very small particles that easily dissolve in water or other mediums. 

Printing Process

Particles bind to printing materials through a binder. Particles penetrate the medium, creating rich colors. 

Nozzle Clogging Risk

Some pigment inks may require shaking before use to prevent pigment settling. Less prone to clogging, and any clogs are easier to resolve.


Resistant to fading, high durability.Prone to fading. 

Colors Performances

Relatively subdued.Vibrant.

Suitable Environments

Outdoor settings. Applications require strong color reproduction, saturation, and transparency.

Choosing the Best Ink

The choice between pigment and dye inks as the "best ink" depends on different objectives and conditions. Both can be the optimal printing solution.

If your primary consideration is the material to be printed on, water-based pigment and dye inks can be used on semi-porous or porous absorbent materials such as eggshells, kraft paper, corrugated cardboard, uncoated boxes, or paper. For customers needing to print on eggshells, Uniplus strongly recommends using water-based dye inks.

Unique Advantages of Water-Based Pigment Ink: 

Prints can be placed outdoors, are waterproof, resist staining, and don't fade easily. Thanks to the superior qualities of water-based pigment inks, prints can often last over a year outdoors with stable colors and minimal fading.

Unique Advantages of Water-Based Dye Ink: 

Less nozzle clogging and the prints feature vibrant colors.

Inquire Further with Uniplus 

Uniplus provides both black water-based pigment TIJ ink cartridges and multi-color water-based dye TIJ ink cartridges. If you'd like to know more about TIJ ink cartridge product pricing or need advice on choosing or using them from ink cartridge experts with over 20 years of experience, feel free to contact us.

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