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Pigment and Dye Based Ink

Pigment and Dye Based Ink

All of the compatible and remanufactured inkjet cartridges we sell here at Refresh Cartridges are filled with a dye based ink. Many people erroneously view dye based inks as being inferior to their pigment based counterparts so I decided to write a quick article explaining the real difference and giving some honest advice on how to best use each type.

The man difference between the two is their consistency and how the inks react with the paper. In dye based inks the molecules are spread relatively far apart and soak into the paper with ease dying it in the process. Whereas pigment based inks have much larger particles that settle into and cling to the fibres of the paper creating more of a layer of colour on top of the paper. Whilst this difference may seem inconsequential I will now summarise the effects of these two different methods giving you the pros and cons of both…

Pigment Based Ink:

-Does not dissolve in water so even when a print get wet only around 10% of it will come away

-The large tightly packed particles offer more resistance to sunlight and take many years to fade

-Are generally more expensive to produce so are normally more expensive

-Give less vibrant coloured prints due to their composition

Dye Based Ink:

-Flows easier inside a print head due to the molecules being further apart and can reduce clogging

-Dissolves in water so prints will not last particularly well if paper gets wet

-Can begin to fade after as little as a month if left in contact with air and sunlight as the particles are more exposed

-Give more vibrant colours as standard due to the spacing of the molecules being more exposed to light

Whilst these points are accurate in the majority circumstances some manufacturers like HP, Canon, and Epson have their own unique branded inks that are specifically designed to tackle the above points. As you may gather there is no right or wrong inks to use and a lot to consider.

If you are reading this article it is likely you are researching whether compatible/remanufactured cartridges with dye based ink will be suitable for the kind of printing you do. With this in mind I will now offer some advice on when I would recommend using the manufacturers own cartridges and when I feel you would be better off sticking to a cheaper alternative.

For general paperwork such as invoices and reading material there is absolutely no reason to not use these cartridges. As these prints normally have a relatively short life and are in a controlled environment no fading or dampness should ever affect them.

When printing photographs for yourself or loved ones I would recommend sticking to the manufacturers own cartridges to avoid them fading when exposed to the elements. However in my experience there is very little reason to print you own photographs. Most inkjet printers cost at least £35 to fill with original cartridges (which only last a couple of hundred prints) and your big name high-street chemist can print them for you at a cost of about 5p each.

The only real area I would strongly advise sticking to the manufacturers own cartridges is for the printing of photos and artwork in a professional capacity. As most of these prints will end up exposed to air and direct sunlight I feel it is best to do everything you can to ensure your customers end up admiring your work for many years to come.

I hope you have found this article useful but if you have any questions or comments on the topic please let us know in the comments below.

About the author

I have been involved in the printer industry since I was 18 and have been an employee of Refresh Cartridges since early 2009. I am a dedicated family man, gamer, music fan and friend to all. I write the majority of the content here on Igloo and am responsible for its upkeep.

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  1. murali krishna

    in hp 940 cartridge they may use some sort of ink. can we refill with dye base ink? the ink we use for refilling it must be with its chemistry? what is the problem if it is not exactly same chemistry

    1. Matthew Stevenson

      The HP original cartridges for the 940 range do have a variety of chemicals in them. If you are refilling cartridges yourself and there is a little ink left in there the worst that can happen in my experience is crystallisation that can stop the cartridge working or even block the printhead. My personal recommendation would be to either get the cartridge refilled by someone who does it professionally or buy a pre-refilled (remanufactured) alternative.

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