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What is the difference between standard dye-based ink and pigmented ink?
Last Updated: 11/29/2018
Water Resistance
The dye in the dye-based ink dissolves in water like sugar does in water -- completely. Pigment does not dissolve completely. It is more like a flour and water mixture. Because of this, dye-based inks flow better and have been the standard in inkjet printers. But the dye will re-dissolve and the ink will flow across the paper if drops of water hit the paper. Pigmented ink particles tend to settle into the tiny fibers that make up the paper. As the ink drys, the pigment particles get stuck in the fibers. Thus, the pigmented inks are more water resistant than the dye-based inks. Only about 5 to 10 percent of the ink will re-flow if the paper is hit by water.

Fade Resistance
The molecules in dye-based inks are spread out. You might think of dye-based ink on paper as similar to a beach covered with sand. Because of this, dye-based ink tends to fade quicker, since all of the molecules are exposed to the chemical and sunlight-caused reactions that fade the ink. You may notice fading of dye-based inks exposed to direct sunlight commonly in 6 to 12 weeks, although when protected from air and sunlight, these inks can last several years. However, new dyes developed originally by HP, Fuji, and Epson have improved the fade resistance of dye-based inks to be equivalent to the capability of most pigments. Pigment particles are similar to large pebbles on a beach. It is much more difficult for sunlight and chemicals to react with all of the pigment molecules, since most of them are hidden inside the "pebbles". Pigmented inks will usually last for several months before fading becomes noticeable, and when protected from air and sunlight, these inks can last for many years. Special Pigmented inks are those which are rated as "Archival Quality" Archival quality pigmented inks use special pigments to improve the fade performance beyond that of normal pigmented inks. Fading becomes noticeable when exposed to direct sunlight in 6-12 months, and when protected from air and sunlight these inks will last for decades. For extremely long archival conditions, the best thing to do is simply to enclose a CD with the document or photographs. That way, if there is any damage down the road, the customer can simply reprint the material.

HP uses pigmented black inks for normal printing, but their special photo cartridges have an additional dye-based photo black.
Epson 6-color printers often use dye-based inks(like Epson Artisan 800, 835, 837,730, 1430, 50, XP850, XP950), whereas their 4-ink systems (Epson workforce 840, 845, 645, 545, 630, WF3540 3520, 3620, 3640, WF7010, 7520, 7620. 7610 7110 7710 7720 7210 NX430, 230, 330 workforce wf-2540, 2530, xp-200, 300 400.410 310, .) often use pigmented inks.

You can't get something for nothing. Pigmented inks cost more to make than dye-based inks, so they cost more.

What should I choose for my CISS?
For Epson 4 Color printers, you can either choose dye or pigment ink, Normally we recommend the dye ink if you don't print often. The pigment last longer, but is not as gloss and will clog more if you don't print for long periods. Dye doesn't last as long, but looks more like a traditional photo.

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