Water Based Inks vs Plastisol

Water based Ink vs Plastisol Inks
I use Eco-Friendly water based inks on all my prints,and the course is based on water based inks

What is water based ink?
If you want a super soft, breathable printed piece of apparel water based ink is the way to go. Water based ink prints an incredibly soft, smooth, breathable image which literally can not be felt on the shirt.

Not only is water based ink a better looking, more comfortable print than plastisol ink, it is also more eco-friendly avoiding harmful PVCs and phylates plastisol is known for. Water based screen printing is more of an art than a science and result speaks for itself.

Water based Ink: The Unstandard
In screen printing, apparel is traditionally printed with plastisol ink, which is a thicker, heavier, PVC-based ink which is able to be physically felt on top of the shirt. In plastisol printing, the ink literally sits on top of the fabric rather than in the fabric as water based ink does. Plastisol ink has long been the industry standard because of it’s ease and predictability for printers. Lucky for you I am not here to print what’s easy nor to give you standard t-shirt printing.

Hand printed water based prints is what you can expect, never again walk around with a shiny thick plaster stuck to your chest.

Water Based Ink vs Plastisol
Water-based ink versus plastisol: one is made of water and one is made of plastic. Simple. But while the difference is easy enough to read in the names, how this difference impacts your screen print takes a little more research. We’re going to look more in depth at each type, advantages and disadvantages, and use the differences to see which one would work best for you.

Water-Based Inks
How They Work: Water-based is a specialty ink for direct to garment digital printing. It is a mixture of water with dye or pigment. The water acts as the main solvent to keep the pigment or dye in liquid form but sometimes co-solvents are used as well. The purpose of the co-solvents ranges, but they are most commonly used to decrease the time and heat necessary for curing. For the print to be cured, the water has to have completely evaporated. The ink sinks into the fibers of shirt, becoming part of the fabric.

Advantages of Water-Based Inks
Better for the environment
Softer hand (ie print is thinner)
More breathable
Inks becomes part of the shirt instead of sitting on top
Good for creating a “vintage” look

Disadvantages of Water-Based Inks
Influenced by the color of the shirt, making prints on dark garments problematic
More time-consuming to work with
Can dry in screens and clog them
More expensive

How It Works: Plastisol is the standard, economical ink to use for screenprinting. It is easy to use because it is essentially plastic. To be more specific, it is made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) particles and and plasticizer. PVC is a commonly-used plastic that is made fluid and flexible through combination with plasticizer, which is an additive that keeps the PVC particles from clumping together or settling. Plastisol has to reach a temperature of around 350 degrees Fahrenheit for curing. Once dry, most plastisol prints sit on top of the material of the shirt.

Advantages of Plastisol
Great opacity, can be used on dark garments
Doesn’t require a source of running water
Won’t clog screens as it won’t dry until cured (requiring 350-degree heat)

Disadvantages of Plastisol
Thicker hand
Less breathable
Can bunch around seams.



Related Articles