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So you enthusiasts are deciding between eco solvent ink vs sublimation ink for your next printing project? Curious about the differences? This direct comparison illuminates the key differences in environmental impact, substrate compatibility, and print quality to empower your choice. Whether you’re prioritizing sustainability or the longevity of your prints, the distinctions between these inks matter. Discover what sets them apart and which ink will meet your specific printing demands. Welcome to the vibrant world of ink and printing!

Key Takeaways

  • Eco Solvent Ink is an environmentally friendly alternative that offers lower volatile organic compounds, compatibility with various substrates, and is suitable for high-quality outdoor printing applications with durability of three to five years.[1]
  • Sublimation Ink offers vibrant colors with high color fastness and durability especially on polyester or polymer-coated surfaces, ideal for textiles and rigid substrates needing permanent images resistant to environmental conditions.
  • While Eco Solvent Ink is versatile for assorted materials and provides outdoor durability, Sublimation Ink is best for color vibrancy and permanence on specific materials; environmental considerations include fewer VOCs for eco solvent inks and a solid-to-gas transition for sublimation inks that reduces waste but requires more energy.

Understanding Eco Solvent Ink

A lake and valley represent greener alternatives

Eco Solvent Ink has emerged as a game-changer in the printing industry, offering a greener alternative to traditional inks. As the name suggests, eco solvent ink contains less aggressive solvent carriers and lower volatile organic compounds (VOC), making it more environmentally friendly. When considering eco solvent ink vs other types of inks, it’s clear that the eco solvent option is a more sustainable choice.

This green attribute, coupled with its versatility and compatibility with a variety of substrates, makes eco solvent ink an ideal choice for high-quality printing projects.

Properties of Eco Solvent Ink

Lush green trees in a park

Eco solvent inks are composed of colors suspended in mild, biodegradable solvents, often based on mineral oils. They adhere well to a wide variety of surfaces, including:

  • coated and uncoated paper
  • wood
  • plastic
  • certain fabrics

This compatibility with diverse printing media makes eco solvent ink a versatile option for various printing needs.

Furthermore, the low VOC content in eco solvent inks means they produce fewer fumes, reducing the need for ventilation and benefiting the work environment and the health of personnel. Despite their slower drying times, which may affect the printing workflow, their lesser corrosiveness compared to traditional solvent inks makes them a favorable choice.[2]

Advantages of Eco Solvent Ink

Representation of outdoor durability of eco solvent ink

Among the many advantages of eco solvent inks, their environmental friendliness stands out. These inks are biodegradable and do not contaminate water or soil, presenting a green alternative to traditional inks. Moreover, they emit lower odors, making them suitable for both outdoor and indoor environments.

In addition to being eco-friendly, eco solvent inks offer several advantages, including the use of outdoor eco solvent inks:

  • High-quality prints: They provide vibrant, sharp, high-resolution prints with a wider color gamut and a high-gloss finish.
  • Outdoor durability: They are designed for outdoor use, offering resistance to weathering and UV exposure.
  • Longevity: Their prints can last from three to five years before signs of fading appear, testifying to their durability.

The economical nature of eco solvent inks, owing to their low-wastage properties and lower requirements for printer maintenance, further adds to their advantages.

Applications of Eco Solvent Ink

Ad advertisement on a building

Given its versatile properties, eco solvent ink finds uses in various applications, including:

  • Large outdoor advertising displays
  • Highway billboards
  • Branding at construction sites
  • Car stickers
  • Bus wraps
  • PVC Flex banners
  • Corridor light box advertising
  • Store billboards
  • Advertising in public transit areas

The resistance to fading offered by eco solvent inks makes them essential for impactful outdoor advertising, while their long-lasting clarity and vividness make them ideal for other advertising purposes.

Eco solvent inks have various applications, including:

  • Vehicle wraps, providing a durable and lasting finish that can withstand environmental elements
  • Trade show graphics, producing high-quality, long-lasting images on materials like artist canvases, banners, tents, and flags
  • Roll-up banners for product promotions and brand awareness due to their durability and print quality
  • Wallpapers for interior decor because of ink durability and the wide range of available colors and designs

Understanding Sublimation Ink

Sublimation ink printing on polyester fabric

Sublimation Ink, also known as dye sublimation ink, is another player in the world of sustainable printing. It is a dye-based ink that, when heated, turns into a gas and dyes the polyester fabric, bypassing the liquid phase, making it unique. The result of this dye sublimation printing process? Vibrant colors that penetrate the surface and bond at a molecular level, offering exceptional durability in prints. Learn more about how sublimation ink is different from regular ink here!

We will now explore the properties, advantages, and applications of sublimation ink in more detail.

Properties of Sublimation Ink

Sublimation ink is primarily composed of woven dyestuff and disperse dyes, which are low-energy, easy-to-sublimate dyes suitable for digital printing. One of the unique properties of sublimation ink is its ability to convert from a solid to a gas without passing through the liquid stage upon heating, a process that ensures good image reproduction and high color fastness.

To prevent print head blocking, quality sublimation ink must offer good resistance to sedimentation. The smoothness of the ink is crucial for print quality, and the dye particle size should not exceed 0.1μm to prevent clogging the print head.

When optimized in the printing process, sublimation ink can be used effectively on diverse substrates while minimizing waste and maintaining equipment. You can also read about how sublimation ink can be removed from a tumbler here.

Advantages of Sublimation Ink

Graphic design software utilized for colorful designs

Sublimation ink is celebrated for its vibrant colors. It enables an unlimited color range with a standard four-color ink system (CMYK), yielding high color saturation and color fastness in the final print, enhancing the overall visual quality.

Beyond its color vibrancy, prints created with sublimation ink are known for their durability. They stand up to washing and don’t wear off, making them ideal for use on garments. The ink penetrates and bonds with fabric fibers, ensuring the image remains permanent and resistant to fading and environmental conditions. This scratch resistance and the unnoticeable feel of the print contribute to a high-quality, durable result.

Moreover, the simplicity of the sublimation printing process makes it an achievable technique for beginners in the printing and personalization industry.

Applications of Sublimation Ink

Sublimation ink is predominantly used in textile applications, enabling vibrant and permanent designs on polyester garments such as t-shirts, jumpers, and socks. Beyond textiles, sublimation ink is ideal for printing on rigid surfaces including mugs, photo slates, plates, and items such as ceramics and metals.

This adaptability of sublimation ink extends to a broad range of pre-prepared products within various sectors, including decorative items, crafts, gifts, and advertising materials.

Comparing Eco Solvent and Sublimation Inks

Although eco solvent and sublimation inks cater to different printing needs and substrates, a comparison between them can help you understand their individual strengths.

Eco Solvent Ink offers versatility and outdoor durability, while Sublimation Ink excels in color vibrancy and permanence on polyester or polymer-coated surfaces.

Material Compatibility

Advertisement of car on a banner

When it comes to material compatibility, eco solvent and sublimation inks show distinct preferences. Eco Solvent ink can print on a variety of uncoated substrates, offering features such as being waterproof and resistant to abrasion. Various materials that can be printed on using eco solvent inks include:

  • Banners
  • Vinyl
  • Some fabrics that possess an inkjet receptive coating

On the other hand, sublimation ink yields best results on 100% polyester fabrics, with acceptable outcomes on fabrics with a composition of at least 65% polyester. While cotton is not directly compatible with sublimation ink, it can still be utilized by first transferring the image onto white glitter vinyl and then applying it on the cotton material using heat pressing.

Beyond fabrics, traditional textile printing with sublimation ink can also print on a wide array of polymer-coated items including porcelain, metal, silk, and even cotton treated with a polyester layer.

Printing Quality

The quality of prints also differs between eco solvent and sublimation inks. Sublimation ink provides vibrant colors and a wider color gamut, preventing color bleeding during the printing process. It is an excellent choice for projects that demand high quality printing. The colors are vibrant and truly stand out..

Eco Solvent ink:

  • Produces waterproof prints
  • Resistant to abrasion and fading
  • Maintains print quality for two to three years, especially for outdoor applications
  • Provides high-quality prints with outdoor eco solvent ink
  • Offers excellent outdoor durability

These qualities make eco solvent ink an effective choice for projects requiring long-lasting prints and more durable ink.

Environmental Impact

Trees cut down represent impact on the environment

Environmental impact is another important factor to consider when comparing eco solvent and sublimation inks. Eco solvent inks emit fewer harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) due to biodegradable solvents produced from ether extracts of refined mineral oil. This attribute makes eco solvent inks a greener alternative to traditional inks.[3][4]

On the other hand, sublimation inks have a more sustainable production process and do not rely on toxic solvents; the solid-to-gas transition reduces waste and environmental contamination. However, they require more energy due to the heat press, possibly leading to a larger environmental footprint associated with their production and usage.

Another aspect to consider is that sublimation printing on polyester materials can lead to microfiber pollution if the fabrics are not properly managed at end-of-life.

Tips for Selecting the Right Ink

When it comes to selecting the right ink for your project, it’s essential to consider a few factors. It involves assessing your project needs, considering the equipment requirements, and evaluating your budget and costs. We’ll explore these factors in-depth to facilitate a well-informed decision.

Assess Your Project Needs

Understanding your project requirements is the first step in selecting the appropriate ink. Reviewing Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for eco solvent inks can provide insights into their environmental impact and safety measures, which relate to the type of materials and durability of the project. Moreover, material choice involves considering the environmental features of the ink, as this may impact both the sustainability of the project and the handling requirements for the material itself.

Eco solvent ink becomes an effective choice for projects that require vibrant and opaque colors on a variety of materials, given its ability to provide such color quality on both light and dark surfaces. Conversely, if vibrant colors and a broad color gamut are what you’re after, sublimation ink might be more suitable, particularly for printing on polyester or polymer-coated surfaces.

Consider Equipment Requirements

Besides understanding your project needs, considering the requirements of your equipment is also a crucial factor. Sublimation ink requires specialized equipment such as heat presses, sublimation printers, and often the use of tanks or ribbons with wax instead of traditional ink cartridges. Direct to Garment (DTG) printers can also be an option for sublimation printing on fabrics, providing the ability to print directly onto textiles.

On the other hand, eco solvent printers require less maintenance than solvent printers, typically needing only once-a-week maintenance. However, when using eco solvent inks, it’s important to assess the need and costs for additional drying equipment due to their slower drying time. Considering these equipment requirements can help you make a cost-effective decision based on your specific printing needs.

Budget and Costs

Spreadsheet for budgeting and costing

Lastly, considering your budget and costs is a vital aspect of selecting the right ink. Sublimation printing may require a higher initial investment in specialized equipment compared to eco solvent printing. Additional costs for sublimation printing include heat presses and transfer papers, while eco solvent printing may necessitate extra drying equipment, influencing production times and subsequent costs.

In the long run, however, eco solvent printing can be more cost-effective as it does not require the additional hardware like heat presses that are essential for sublimation printing. Considering both initial and long-term expenses, eco solvent printing generally offers a more economical solution while sublimation printing offers versatility at potentially higher costs.


To sum up, both eco solvent and sublimation inks bring unique properties and advantages to the table. Eco Solvent Ink is versatile and eco-friendly, offering high-quality prints on a variety of uncoated substrates. On the other hand, Sublimation Ink excels in providing vibrant colors and permanent prints on polyester or polymer-coated surfaces. Choosing between them involves assessing your project needs, considering the equipment requirements, and evaluating your budget and costs. By understanding these inks and their differences, you can make an informed decision that best suits your specific printing needs and contributes to sustainable printing practices.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use eco solvent ink in my sublimation printer?

No, it is not advisable to use eco-solvent ink in your sublimation printer. It may cause damage to the printer.

What are the cons of eco solvent ink?

Eco-solvent ink can be more expensive than other inks and may require more maintenance, which can increase overall printing costs.

What is eco solvent ink?

Eco solvent ink is a more environmentally friendly option compared to traditional inks, as it contains less aggressive solvent carriers and lower volatile organic compounds. This makes it versatile and compatible with a variety of uncoated substrates, ideal for high-quality printing projects.

What is sublimation ink?

Sublimation ink is a dye-based ink that, when heated, turns into a gas and dyes the polyester fabric directly, providing vibrant colors and exceptional durability in prints. There are no liquid phase involved, resulting in high-quality, long-lasting prints.

What are some applications of eco solvent and sublimation inks?

Eco solvent ink is used in outdoor advertising displays, vehicle wraps, wallpapers, and more, while sublimation ink is used in textile applications, decorative items, gifts, and advertising materials.


  1. Paper, ink, and toner management | Sustainable Technologies. (n.d.-d). https://uwaterloo.ca/sustainable-technology/sustainable-it-action-areas/paper-ink-and-toner-management
  2. Live, W. P. (2023, December 4). Conserving land, water and wildlife amidst growing climate threats. Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/washington-post-live/2023/12/04/conserving-land-water-wildlife-amidst-growing-climate-threats/
  3. Henley, J. (2021, November 9). Few willing to change lifestyle to save the planet, climate survey finds. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/nov/07/few-willing-to-change-lifestyle-climate-survey
  4. Vitasek, K. (2022, June 2). Businesses should always consider the environment. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/katevitasek/2022/06/02/businesses-should-always-consider-the-environment/?sh=6e4c021b7895

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