Sublimation Ink Vs. Pigment Ink

by Karen Jones

Both sublimation ink and pigment ink are commonly used in the printing industry. The difference between sublimation ink and pigment ink lies in how they are made, which is why sublimation ink can be applied to a more diverse set of materials than pigment ink. 

Sublimation inks are created by combining solvents with dyes or pigments that evaporate when heated up. Pigment inks require an additional process of applying resin to create a coating on the paper. At the same time, sublimations do not need this step because it is already integrated into the process.

What is Sublimation Ink?

What is Sublimation Ink?
What is Sublimation Ink?

The sublimation printing process uses a solid ink sublimated from gas to become the color pigment particles. The sublimation process can be used for t-shirts, mugs, cups, and other products. This print type is very durable on fabrics as it will not fade in sunlight or dry out over time.

Advantages of Sublimation Ink

  • It is also possible to print sublimation on fabric
  • Submissions work better for full-color prints than pigments, while gradients and multi-color prints may not be as effective

Disadvantages of Sublimation Ink

  • It is more expensive to print with sublimation ink than pigment ink.” “About one hundred times more expensive than pigment ink.” “Since sublimation ink requires special printers, papers, and drying processes,” he added.
  • The only company making sublimation printers is also making sublimation inks, so finding them is also tricky.

What is Pigment Ink?

Disadvantages of Sublimation Ink
Disadvantages of Sublimation Ink

Pigment ink is made up of colored pigments suspended in either water or oil with additives such as resins and waxes that bind them together. It has traditionally been used for high-quality commercial printing like magazines because it looks more vibrant than sublimation ink but does not last long when put into direct sunlight or when exposed to heat.

Advantages of Using Pigment Inks

  • Pigment inks are less expensive than sublimation ink. 
  • Multiple companies produce pigment printers and supplies so that they can be found more efficiently.
  • In addition, pigments can be applied to a broader range of surfaces, as they adhere much more effectively to surfaces than sublimations.
  • The second advantage of pigment inks is that they last longer, which means they can print for a more extended period.
  • Sublimation uses special paper and cannot be recycled, so pigments are more environmentally friendly.

Disadvantages of Using Pigment Inks

  • Sublimation inks are more durable, but pigment inks fade over time.
  • Some materials, like plastic, cannot be printed with segments, so prints can’t be used on items like cups.
  • Because pigment inks do not come with unique papers, pigment inks cannot reproduce the level of detail you can find in sublimations.
  • Pigment printers are more difficult to use than sublimation printers.

Sublimation Ink Vs. Pigment Ink

  1. Sublimation inks are more durable on fabrics than pigments and also look a lot more vibrant. They do not fade in sunlight or dry out over time, but they don’t produce the same print quality as pigments for magazines with high-quality images.
  2. Sublimation ink is made of sublimated dye crystals that become gas when heated to a specific temperature and pressed onto the paper or fabric.
  3. Sublimations can be printed on fabrics, making them perfect for T-shirts, flags, banners, mouse mats, etc. On the other hand, Pigment Ink has traditionally been used for high-quality commercial printing like magazines, posters, and brochures.
  4. Sublimation ink and pigment inks are both water-based.
  5. Sublimation ink is a newer technology than pigment inks, and sublimations also have a more vibrant, saturated look.
  6. It is possible to print on fabrics with sublimation printing.
  7. Sublimation ink lasts longer when put into direct sunlight or when exposed to heat.
  8. As opposed to sublimation, Pigment Ink can often be recolored with dip pens, paintbrushes, and other tools.
  9. Sublimation inks work better for full-color prints, while pigments may not work well with gradients of colors.
  10. It is also used for more temporary purposes, such as marketing campaigns or invitations to events.
  11. Sublimation ink is a newer technology than pigment inks, and sublimations also have a more vibrant, saturated look.
  12. Sublimation ink is a newer technology than pigment inks, and sublimations also have a more vibrant, saturated look.
  13. Submissions are more expensive than pigment inks because they use special printers. This is because sublimation ink requires a unique printer, paper, and drying process.  – Sublimation inks are also tricky to find since sublimation printers are only made by one company.

Pigment Vs. Dye Ink: Which One to Choose?

  1. The sublimation process is ideal for printing on a variety of materials, including glass and plastic.
  2. Additionally, sublimation inks can be used to print on recycled paper without affecting the quality. Since there is no ink used, this is also an eco-friendly method.
  3. Colors are more affluent in pigment inks than in dye inks, but sublimated prints never fade or smear.
  4. Due to their chemical properties, dye inks permit the printing of images onto cups and other items that cannot be printed using pigment inks.
  5. If the pigment is not sublimated correctly, it will fade and smudge with time. Stains are more durable as long as they are not subjected to direct light.
  6. Sublimation ink is eco-friendly, washable, and may be used with recycled paper without sacrificing performance. Dye ink is a cheaper alternative to pigment ink, but dye inks are less eco-friendly and less washable. In contrast, dye inks have the advantage of never fading or smudging over time.
  7. The process of sublimation is also more environmentally friendly since no ink is used (instead, heat is applied). For this reason, sublimation inks can be used to print on recycled paper with no adverse effects.
  8. The color quality of pigment inks will be better than that of dye inks.
  9. Sublimated inks will not fade or smudge over time, unlike dye inks.
  10. Compared with pigment inks, dye sublimate is cheaper. However, sublimation inks are eco-friendly and can be used with recycled paper without adverse results. However, dye inks will never fade or smudge.
  11.  A sublimation process does not use colorants (but instead uses heat to create the color), richer in color than dyes. Since dye inks do not require additional materials, they are also cheaper than pigment inks. To obtain the best results, only 100% white cardstock that has been coated with acrylic should be used for sublimation.
  12. Sublimation printers are limited to sublimating dye, while dye cleaning printing machines can use paints and submit prints so that the methods can be switched as necessary.
  13. Sublimated inks are more expensive than pigment inks due to their higher quality print and other advantages such as their eco-friendliness and resistance to fading over time since they do not require an acrylic overcoat.
  14. If your company wants to save on expenses and protect the color of its logo for a long time, we recommend sublimation. Furthermore, submit prints are a sustainable alternative to dye sublimation because they are non-toxic and do not require the use of toxic solvents during the sublimating process. Because fewer chemical pollutants are released into our air and water sources, submit prints are less expensive than dye sublimation. In conclusion, sublimation vs. pigment might seem like an easy choice when you are a sublimating printer, but it is worth the effort to research both options and make an educated decision on which type would work best for you.
  15. Sublimation ink option is typically chosen by sublimating printers for the cost and eco-friendly benefits.

Sublimate prints offer more long-lasting results with their dye sublimated process, which reduces environmental impact while still being cost-effective compared to other printing options like pigment inks.


The differences between sublimation ink vs. pigment ink can be tough to tell from the surface, so it’s worth researching both types before making any decisions about what will work best for your company! If you’re considering using sublimate, then we recommend checking out our blog.

For those who want high-quality prints without sacrificing color or gradients, sublimations might be better for you, but if you’re looking for something cheaper with less hassle, then pigments would be your best option!

About Karen Jones

For the last decade, Karen Jones has worked as a freelance writer and social media marketing consulant. As an gourmand and avid traveler, she publishes cutting-edge articles about traveling that really attracting readers into her wonderful journeys. If you can't find Ms. Jones around her friends and family, she's definitely busy in her home office refining her writing composition and printing press.

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