5 Types Of Printer Ink And What They’re Used For

Printers aren’t a stand-alone piece of machinery, because without ink, a printer is basically just an over-sized paper weight. Now, things would be easy if there was only one ink-option for your shiny new inkjet printer, but that really isn’t the case.

There are a few types of ink to choose from when equipping your printer, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. To help you get a handle on which you should be buying, we’ve listed out five of the most common (and uncommon) types of inks below. Happy printing!

1. Dye-Based Inks

The original (and for a long while, only) choice for an inkjet printer, dye-based inks are capable of printing images with vibrant colours. With little-to-no drying time, dye-based inks can print such images without fear of smudging, even as soon as the printing job is complete. Since dye-based inks are water soluble, however, if an image comes into contact with a liquid, then there is a high chance it will smear. Dye-based inks are also prone to fading due to oxidation, even after just a few days or weeks.


2. Pigment Inks

The weaknesses of dye-based inks is where pigment inks stand strong; largely unaffected by harsh light and moisture, pigment inks are able to print images that will not fade for years on end. However, conversely to dye-based inks, pigment inks cannot achieve the same level of vibrancy with colours and are prone to smudging. Pigment inks are also known to be more expensive than dye-based inks.


3. Solid Inks

Environmentally friendly and biodegradable, solid inks are made up of a vegetable oil composite and don’t use the traditional plastic cartridge seen in other types of printer inks. Much like pigment inks, solid inks will not fade very much over time, and can actually print colours with more vibrancy. Unfortunately, despite the environmental boon solid inks provide and their printing ability, most ink manufacturers do not produce a solid ink product, making them far less easy to purchase.


4. Solvent Inks

Largely used for commercial printing jobs, such as billboards or images on plastic products, solvent inks have the unique advantage of being waterproof and scratch resistant. This is due to the resin component of the ink, which also aids in ensuring the colour sticks to the paper.


5. Dye-Sublimation Inks

Despite its rather complex-sounding name, dye-sublimation inks have a pretty simple purpose: transfer images onto fabrics. Dye-sublimation inks utilize a particular dye that can be placed on fabric (or card, plastic, and paper) after being heated. A special printer is generally needed to make use of dye-sublimation ink.

Featured image courtesy of: Juanjo6560

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