Screen printing is a popular and versatile method for creating custom designs on a variety of substrates. There are two main types of ink used for this printing technique - plastisol and water-based. Each type of ink has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and understanding the differences between them is important when choosing the right ink for your project. In this blog post, we will explore the different types of screen printing ink and discuss the pros and cons of each.
What is Plastisol Ink?
Plastisol ink is a popular choice among screen printing professionals due to its versatility and durability. It is composed of PVC resin, plasticizers, and pigments, and is suspended in a carrier system that ensures consistent flow and coverage when applied to the substrate. Plastisol ink is heat set, which means it is cured when exposed to high temperatures for a specific amount of time. This curing process makes it extremely durable, allowing for repeated washing and wearing without fading or cracking. Plastisol ink provides excellent opacity, coverage, and color vibrancy, making it the preferred choice for designs with multiple colors and complex graphics. It also offers an extensive range of specialty effects such as glitter, shimmer, glow-in-the-dark, and puff.
What is Water Based Ink?
Water based inks are becoming increasingly popular in the screen printing industry. This type of ink is composed of a mixture of pigments, resins, and other ingredients suspended in a water-soluble solution. As the name suggests, water based inks use water as the primary carrier of the pigment and resins, which results in a much softer and more comfortable print when it comes in contact with skin.
The main benefits of using water based inks are that they are non-toxic, have very low VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), and can be easily cleaned up with water. Additionally, water based inks are more environmentally friendly than their plastisol counterparts. The print texture created by water based inks is also quite different from plastisol. Water based inks will lay flatter on the garment, leaving behind a much softer feeling print that often does not even require curing.
Water based inks also tend to have more vibrant colors, allowing for brighter and more detailed prints. This type of ink is generally easier to print than plastisol due to its thinner consistency and tendency to not build up on the mesh of the screen. However, water based inks may require additional coats of ink to get an even coverage over dark or dense fabrics. The biggest drawbacks of water based inks are that they tend to fade faster and can be more difficult to get an accurate color match.
Which One Should I Use?
When it comes to choosing the best type of ink for your screen printing project, there are a few factors to consider. Plastisol and water based inks both have their advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to know the differences before deciding which type to use.
Plastisol ink is made up of PVC particles suspended in a plasticizer. It is often used on t-shirts because of its versatility and opacity. It is easy to use and is a great choice for most garments, since it does not need to be cured. However, plastisol ink does not have a soft hand, so it can feel heavy and uncomfortable against the skin.
Water based ink is made up of pigments suspended in water. It produces a very soft hand feel and is environmentally friendly, making it a great choice for natural fabrics such as cotton and linen. Additionally, water based ink is less opaque than plastisol, so it can create very detailed and intricate designs. The downside of water based ink is that it needs to be heat cured after printing, which can be time consuming and can add to the cost of your project.
Ultimately, the decision between plastisol and water based ink depends on the design you’re creating and the fabric you’re using. Plastisol is an excellent choice for thick garments and bold designs, while water based ink is perfect for thin fabrics and detailed artwork. Both types of ink are great options for screen printing projects, so take the time to evaluate your project needs before making a decision.