An illustration of comparison between two inks ( pigment ink Vs sublimation ink ) and which is better.

Pigment ink Vs Sublimation ink: What’s the Difference ?

Selecting the proper ink is essential for successful printing. Pigment ink and sublimation ink are two common choices. Both water-based and solvent-based inks are viable options, and the final decision should be based on the print’s intended function.

Let’s analyze both inks and discuss their strengths, weaknesses, and general attractiveness as a printing medium. Knowing the distinctions between pigment ink and other types of ink is essential whether you’re a seasoned expert or just starting with DIY projects.

Pigment ink Vs Sublimation ink: Are they same?

There are two types of ink used in printing: pigment ink and sublimation ink. Despite their superficial similarities, their chemical make-ups, applications, and constraints vary greatly.

Pigment Ink

Tiny pigment particles are dissolved in a liquid medium to create pigment ink. This is because the particles are insoluble and float on the surface of the paper or substrate, making them suitable for printing on a wide range of materials.

Pigment ink is commonly used for printing photographs, artwork, and other high-quality prints because it is fade-resistant and provides bright, long-lasting images. Pigment ink may be utilized on many surfaces, including glossy paper, matte paper, canvas, and even fabrics.

Related Post : Can you use Sublimation ink for regular printing ?

Sublimation Ink

On the other hand, sublimation ink is used for printing with heat and pressure on specially coated substrates and fabrics. Permanent printing is achieved by heating the ink to the point when the dye molecules change into a gas and interact with the substrate’s fibers.

Sublimation ink is often used to print t-shirts, mugs, and other promotional goods because of the ink’s ability to produce bright, vibrant colors.


Summary:   The main difference  between both inks is their chemical properties. Pigment ink is consist of small pigment particles and remains on the surface of substrate while Sublimation ink is heated and turns into vapors bypassing liquid form and printed onto the substrate.


Which is Better, Pigment ink or Sublimation ink?

2 different types of inks comparison in an image grid (Pigment ink Vs Sublimation ink) Which is better?

Determining which type of ink is better, pigment ink or sublimation ink largely depends on the intended use of the print. Here’s a breakdown of different fields and processes in which each type of ink is good or bad:

Printing on paper:

Pigment ink is recommended when printing on paper since it gives off vibrant colors and lasts long without fading. Also, papers and images printed using pigment ink may withstand exposure to moisture and humidity. But sublimation ink can’t be used with regular paper because it needs a particular surface to adhere to.

Printing on fabric:

Sublimation ink is the superior option for printing on fabrics since it chemically reacts with the fibers of the fabric to produce a permanent print that won’t peel or fracture. T-shirts, caps, and other fabrics can be printed using sublimation ink. In addition to dye-based inks, pigment inks can be used for printing on fabric. Still, a specific coating must be applied to the fabric beforehand to guarantee the ink sticks properly.

Also Read : How to remove sublimation ink ?

Color range and vibrancy:

Sublimation ink has a broader color gamut and more vibrant hues than traditional pigment ink. Fabrics or substrates dyed with sublimation ink retain their vivid color even after repeated washings. However, pigment ink can create a larger spectrum of colors, making it a popular choice for printing artwork and photographs.


Sublimation ink outlasts pigment ink prints by a significant margin. Prints made with sublimation ink do not fade, peel, or crack since the ink attaches directly to the fabric or substrate. However, pigment ink may degrade or fade over time, despite its durability if not printed on sturdy paper.


Pigment ink is more versatile than sublimation ink since it can be used on a larger variety of media, such as paper, canvas, textiles, and even some polymers. However, sublimation ink can only print on correctly coated substrates or fabrics.

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  • Produces High quality and Long-Lasting prints
  • Offers a wide range of colors and can be used on various surfaces.
  • Water-Resistent


  • More expensive than other types of ink.
  • Colors may appear dull or faded if not printed on high-quality paper.



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  • Produces bright, vibrant, and long-lasting prints on fabrics and other substrates.
  • Prints are durable and won’t fade, crack, or peel.
  • Is cost-effective for large printing projects.


  • Requires special equipment.( Sublimation printer and Heat press)
  • Only suitable for printing on fabrics and other coated substrates.
  • Can produce inconsistent results.
  • Colors may not appear as sharp or detailed compared to pigment ink.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Which is better, pigment ink or sublimation ink?

It is situationally dependent. Printing on paper, fabric, and other substrates is best accomplished with pigment ink. It can withstand rain and humidity without deteriorating, and its prints persist for a long time without fading. T-shirts, mugs, and phone cases made from polyester are perfect candidates for printing using sublimation ink. Prints come out looking great and lasting for years without fading or peeling.

Q: Can I use pigment ink in a printer designed for sublimation ink?

Using pigment ink with a printer made for sublimation ink is not possible. For sublimation ink to work, a particular printer can generate the high temperatures and pressures necessary to melt the ink. There are two main problems with using pigment ink in a sublimation printer: the printer will be damaged, and the ink will not stick to the substrate.

Q: Can I use sublimation ink in a printer designed for pigment ink? 

No, a printer made for pigment ink will not work with sublimation ink. A printer capable of withstanding the high heat and pressure needed to sublimate the ink from a solid to a gas is necessary for printing with sublimation ink. Sublimation ink is not compatible with pigment ink printers, and vice versa.


In conclusion, the application and the type of material being printed on should be considered when deciding between pigment ink and sublimation ink. The final decision between these two inks must be based on the needs of the project and the substrate. Choosing the correct ink for your printing project is essential, and knowing the distinctions between these two options can help you make an educated decision.

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