Pigment Ink vs Sublimation Ink – Know the Difference Before you Buy

We have all used an inkjet printer at the office or home. All of us are familiar with the basic mechanism and the expected output. But, have you ever wondered about the ink? What type of ink is used? Are there different options? Do they all work alike? Is this a factor we must remember while purchasing an inkjet printer?

Predominantly, two types of ink prevail – Pigment ink and sublimation ink. They come with their own set of advantages and uses.

Through this article, we are going to answer all your questions about inkjet ink by discussing pigment ink and sublimation ink in detail. Once you know their differences, it will be easier for you to make a purchase.

Pigment Ink vs Sublimation Ink

1. Pigment ink

Pigment ink is usually in the form of tiny particles; particles provide the color and do not use dyes.

The pros :

  1. Pigments are long-lasting.
  2. They offer more variety in subtle colors. This is because they use multiple ink colors: black, medium gray, light gray, yellow, light magenta, magenta, light cyan, and cyan.
  3. They are stable for long-term purposes, even though they do not have a large color scope.
  4. They are UV resistant and water-proof.

The cons:

  1. They are more likely to clog the printer.
  2. Some inks look different from different angles. This is called metameric failure and is quite common.
  3. You may notice a bronze color or greenish shade when you see the print from one side or under certain light.

2. Sublimation ink

Printers that use sublimation ink are called dye sublimation printers or dye subs. They were originally meant to print proofs of full-scale and not the final products. However, today, they are used for the latter as well.

The pros:

  1. They produce very bright prints.
  2. The ink lasts longer than many other dyes.
  3. They use CYMO or Cyan Yellow Magenta Overcoating, removing the need for black ink. Thanks to this, the prints are resistant to UV damage, moisture, and air.
  4. They are water-proof and can withstand washing as well.

The cons:

  1. Their lifespan is lower than pigment ink.

Pigment ink vs sublimation ink – Who wins?

There are two things to keep in mind here. They both serve different purposes. So, it is not really a battle. Also, it is not all about the ink used. The type of paper you choose also plays a significant role in the longevity and clarity of the print. You should always buy branded paper even if it costs more because of its quality. Third-party options are affordable but can disappoint you in the long run.

So, if you want sublimation, you should obviously go with sublimation ink, but if fade-resistance and long life are your primary requirements, pigment ink is the way to go.


You may have understood by now that it is not really about the winner when we talk about sublimation ink vs pigment ink. It is about which one fits your purpose. Go through each of their uses and explore the other types of dye as well. This exercise will help you understand which one to pick.

We hope we have answered all your questions with our article. If you have any more, please feel free to Comment!

One Comment

  1. Cheers Gregory, Just getting into Tshirt trasfers lately and really enjoying it. I came across a lad making Tees on Youtube and he mentioned the fact he uses sublimation ink so I wanted to know the basics. Cheers for the article.



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