Pigment vs. Dye Ink

Ink stained Fingers

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My P400 shows some problems with the cleaning unit, the ink in one of the caps does not get sucked off anymore. I installed cartridges with a cleaner and put the printer away for some time later to investigate further - wintertime whatever. It is a rather complicated piece of mechanical engineering and getting to the pump etc needs some more steps than just 1..2..3. I revived a WF-2010W which is a low level A4 printer with pigment inks - CMYK - 3 pl. I can run a gloss optimizer via the black channel with a separate cartridge so the unit let me still do some ink - gamut - etc tests.
I'm printing a test image on A5 on Sihl glossy paper - with pigment inks and with dye inks - with the same driver settings - matte paper - which uses the black channel. Colors are slightly different - the prints are not profiled.

1 fcPrints_Testbild_100ppi.jpg

I'm scanning just a very smal part of it - the eye of the parrot, this is the print with pigment inks

Parrot 1.jpg


and this print with dye inks

Parrot 2.jpg


The droplets with dye inks are less visible than with pigment inks , dye inks - the solvent with the colorant spreads slightly on the paper surface with the coating, pigment inks don't spread that much into the coating - the solvent does and the pigments remain on the surface, the solvent and the pigments separate, and the pigments get a more defined visibility. The driver settings, the droplet size are the same for both prints and scans. These differences are normally not visible, the scans are just a few millimeters wide and only visible with a magnifier or a very close up view.
 

nertog

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I did a similar test a while ago, mainly to check why dyes in my Epson R3000 produced smoother looking prints than pigment based inks.

Pigment.jpg
Pigment-based ink

Dye.jpg
Dye-based ink

A few things I noticed:

- My pigment cyan has a higher optical density than its dye counterpart (= darker)
- The dye print looks fuzzier, but this is not a focus issue of the microscope or camera. It seems that the dyes diffuse deeper into the microporous coating. The size of a typical inkjet ink pigment particle is about 100nm, more or less equal to the pore size of your typical microporous paper. This would prevent pigment ink from penetrating the top coating layer.
- I have a slight magenta misaligment on my dye printer. Does anyone know how to solve this?

As a bonus, the R3000 at minimum dot size (pigment inks, 2pl).

Dots.jpg
 

The Hat

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I reckon trying to compare dye ink printers with pigment ink printers is like apples and oranges, you either like one or favour the other, they are completely different animals so try not to put them in the same cage.

Dye ink printer photos look beautiful and have a bit more punch to them but give it a few months and see which print then has the punch, I used all dye inks at first but slowly changed over to pigment, and if I have to choose, I’m on the pigment side no question.. Besides they seldom ever clog.. My two cent worth..;)
 

Ink stained Fingers

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It seems that the dyes diffuse deeper into the microporous coating.
The droplet on the coating spreads slightly horizontally creating some dot gain , and you can observe that different papers with different coatings exhibit a different dot gain - not all papers are alike in this respect. But that's one of several parameters which are nowhere specified by manufacturers, not the dot gain, not the ink limit , typically not a black level with a reference ink , and some more of such parameters, some manufacturers specify the paper white point but no details about optical brighteners.
 

nertog

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Sure, they are different, but I think a comparison is completely valid. We only use pigmented inks because of their longevity benefits. Everything else is better with dyes (for photo printing on coated media, at least).

- Dyes are 100% soluble, so clogs are definitely less of an issue.
- No gloss-related issues
- Higher optical density possible
- No resins or binders needed -> better scratch resistance and...less clogs
- No color shifts due to changes in pigment suspension

Modern metal complex dyes are very robust, and if I had easy access to them I would use them instead of pigments. The problem is that they are all guarded by patents and our only option is to extract them from branded cartridges or "official" refil bottles.
 

nertog

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The droplet on the coating spreads slightly horizontally creating some dot gain.
I think microporous media have very limited dot gain, at least from what I can see in my microscope images. Both the dye and pigment inks have the same dot size on the same paper.

But yep, the lack of technical data on those papers is frustrating.
 

Ink stained Fingers

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I have seen variations in dot gain between microporous papers , not much but visible by careful inspection
 

Ink stained Fingers

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I reckon trying to compare dye ink printers with pigment ink printers is like apples and oranges, you either like one or favour the other, they are completely different animals so try not to put them in the same cage.
It's not just printing nerds who put dye or pigment inks into a printer - Epson is doing the same - dye inks into XP expression home printers and pigment inks into WF... workforce models - running the same print mechanism and printhead. Epson just does not let you swap ink cartridges by firmware and different chips. But you are right beyond that - those inks are for different printing applications.
 
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