Sublimation Ink VS Pigment Ink – Tested Difference!

Being a professional photographer since childhood, I have experimented with a wide range of printers, papers, and inks. Most of my students are confused about choosing between sublimation ink vs pigment ink.

These ink types have the distinctive role that they play in the final look of the print you take. In the previous times, many people preferred working with sublimation inks in the earlier times because of their economic price and brighter colors.

However, due to issues of water solubility, they lost their likeliness among regular users. That was the time when the majority of the enthusiasts preferred using pigment ink because of its water-resistance feature.

If you are also into the printing business, we will suggest you understand the significant difference and then step into printing to avoid wasting your time, money, and effort. We have primarily written this short guide to help you in this regard. Here we go with these important details!

Sublimation Ink Vs Pigment Ink | Essential Details

Brief Description

The sublimation ink often referred to as the dye-based ink, has remained at the center of attention because it is available in different bright colors.

Sublimation Ink Vs Pigment Ink

Also, this link is available at comparatively cheaper costs, due to which a number of the users love using them. However, the major game-changer is its water solubility.

After using sublimation ink, you will be happy to see the vibrant colors alluring your eyes. However, as soon as one drop of water comes in contact with your print, you will see the print deteriorating and destroying your whole effort and time. In this scenario, opting for the comparatively long-lasting and expensive pigment ink is the best decision to go for. Investing your money in pigment ink will benefit you in the long term.

Sublimation ink Vs Pigment ink – The major difference

The main difference between them is sublimation ink is created for evaporating the particles after applying heat. Sublimation ink becomes part of the fabric/substrate from solid to a direct gaseous state when the heat is applied. On the other hand, pigment ink needs an additional step, pigment ink is oil-based or water-based and adheres to the surface. It doesn’t become a part of the substrate rather it forms a layer on top of the substrate.

Which is Better Sublimation ink or Pigment ink?

For cotton-based and dark-colored substrates pigment ink is better. While for light color garments and polyester-coated substrates there is no better choice out there rather than sublimation ink. Now it totally depends upon the needs of a user/customer.

What is Sublimation ink Used For?

Sublimation ink for fabric printing to personalize the products for a long time. Sublimation printing can be only printed onto 100% polyester fabric or it can be printed on polyester coated materials. Different kinds of polymer-coated substrates are available out there. It may have mugs, plates, aluminum sheets, tumblers, keychains, apparel, crockery, canvas, and many more.

What is Pigment ink Used For?

While pigment ink is excellent for business. It can print vibrant documents. Printing Id cards, plain papers, stickers, business documents, posters, cardstock, and many more. They are highly popular for their non-resistant nature which makes them ideal for creating vibrant texts on posters.

Pigment ink is the best choice to opt for if you aim to get the materials for long-term utilization. Pigment ink will stay on the top surface of the media without seeping or adsorbing inside it; therefore, it is usually used to print office documents. If you intend to store the documents for many years and want them to be intact, pigment ink is the best choice.

Sublimation ink Vs Pigment ink – The major difference

is pigment ink water-based and waterproof?

The answer is no! pigment ink is not water-based. The major strength factor associated with the pigment ink is that they are not affected even if the print comes in contact with water or moisture. in addition, pigment ink is water-resistant, and fade resistance, and longevity associated with the pigment ink make them the best companion for your prints. Nevertheless, you have to accept one shortcoming: these inks come in comparatively few colors.

Is pigment ink oil-based?

No, they are oil-based and insoluble in water. They are perfect on an industrial basis and also good for glossy surfaces. They cannot be absorbed into the paper of any substrate.

can pigment inks be used for sublimation?

Sublimation cannot be performed with pigment ink because it is not soluble. You can print dark color t-shirts, dark cotton, or light cotton with pigment ink.

can I use pigment ink on sublimation paper?

The answer is simply no! You cannot use pigment ink on sublimation paper. You can only print sublimation paper with sublimation ink. Because pigment ink will not be evaporated after applying heat.

Sublimation Ink

Sublimation ink is used for printing a variety of commercial products like textiles because its penetrative power is matchless. Usually, this ink is specialized for transferring the ink from the paper product to other media, e.g., fabrics. It is generally derived from natural sources, e.g., plants, etc.

The manufacturers usually add the coloring agent to the plant material for getting sublimation ink. There are different advantages which will make you prefer it over the other types available on the market. These advantages include:

  • Sublimation ink produces highly vibrant and sharp colors.
  • While working with the sublimation ink, only a minimal light quantity is diffused.
  • Sublimation ink is the best option to go for if you have any budget limitations.
  • There are different colors available in the sublimation ink set.
  • Prints taken with the sublimation ink are resistant to fading, cracking, and peeling off.

These positive aspects of the sublimation ink will make your mind to purchase them for your printing tasks. However, the major disadvantage that you need to keep in mind is that sublimation ink is highly vulnerable to some chemical reactions like oxidation triggered by humidity. Therefore, if you are aiming to produce the prints for long-term use, these issues can disappoint you later.

Dye Ink for Heat Transfer

If you are using a heat press machine, you might be curious about utilizing the accurate type of ink. Based on my experience, I would strongly recommend you to use dye ink or sublimation ink because there are some features associated with it that will amaze you, like easier printing, effortless handling, quicker drying, crack resistance, and highly vibrant colors. You can learn here the difference between Heat press vs sublimation.

Pigment Ink

While talking about the sublimation ink vs pigment ink, it’s time to discuss the details of the pigment ink. Pigment ink is prepared in the form of smaller particles that have been mixed with the coloring material. The smaller particles comprise the various molecules bound to one another by different types of chemical bonds.

This stronger bond makes pigment ink stronger, and thus it has no alteration even if it comes in contact with water or other chemical species. Some significant pros associated with pigment ink are:

Pigment Ink
  • Pigment ink is unbeatable in its stability towards various environmental conditions of the stronger sunlight and rainfall.
  • This ink possesses a commendable resistance to chemical reactions like oxidation.
  • Different fabrics prepared with this ink have a brighter and more vibrant look.

Where these benefits will convince you to purchase the pigment ink, at the same time, we would like to discuss some significant disadvantages with you. Firstly, this is a costly ink. Therefore, if you are tight on the budget, you should never opt for them.

Another issue with pigment ink is that sometimes it causes significant changes in the appearance of the media where it is applied. The reflection is lighter because the constituent particles of this ink are larger.

Pigment Ink for T-Shirt Printing

It is integral to share to guide you about the best ink type in the t-shirt printing business. After working with the different ink types, I strongly recommend you only use the pigment ink for the t-shirts because these will be highly vibrant and permanent even after years of use.

Check out the best printers for greeting cards.

In case you want to sublimate the T-shirt then you must need to choose the best sublimation printer for t-shirts along with that you can only use the best sublimation ink not pigment ink.

Therefore, you should always consider investing money in it if you print any media, including t-shirts, for frequent and long-term use. Different top manufacturers are making such high-grade pigment ink that you can purchase.


What kind of ink is used for sublimation?

If you have recently purchased the best sublimation printer or simply converted your inkjet printer into sublimation, you need to buy the specific sublimation or dye-sub ink for it. When a higher temperature is provided, the right ink type is designed to convert the solid form to the gaseous state readily. As a result of the specific sublimation condition, the ink will be deposited on the media you are trying to print.

There are also some advantages of inkjet printers

Can you mix sublimation inks coming from the different brands?

If you are not happy with your sublimation ink set’s color output and are thinking of mixing them, then the first thing I must say is to STOP! Don’t do this. Instead of improving the colors, you will be wasting the inks and your time. This can even worsen if you are mixing the inks coming from different brands. You may check the top brands for getting excellent colors with incredible vibrancy and sharpness.

You can check ink tanks vs ink cartridges

What happens if you use the regular ink inside your dye-sublimation printer?

The regular ink does not have the specialized colorant particles, which are open to the process of sublimation, and they convert to a gaseous form from a solid state. That is why it is never recommended to use the regular or commonly available inks in your printer. If you do so, it will clog the printer and make you waste your precious money and time.

Final Thoughts

After reading the essential details, advantages, disadvantages, and uses of the sublimation ink vs pigment ink, you will now be in a better position to decide the type of ink you need for your printing purposes. In light of the whole discussion, we must say that both of these ink types are important and have considerably good aspects. However, it is your preference and requirement to decide on the final type.

We hope you have experience and suggestions that you would like to share with us. Therefore, don’t forget to pour them into the feedback section. We will love to respond to you also in case of any queries. Thank you and take care!


  • Hello, Beautiful People. I'm Olivia and I'll be guiding you on how-to tutorials and guides. I am a mommy of two little angles. My kids are also interested in DIY, Arts & Crafts. So I'm here to serve you some of my previous experience.