Why is the choice of ink so important?
There’s simply no printing without ink. Let us help you select the correct ink for your specific application. Explore the various lines of ink products that we offer below, or contact our customer service or your Technical Sales Representative for more personalized help.
What kind of inks are there?
Water Based Ink
Water based ink, as the name suggests, is bascially a solution of water and dye. It generally has a much thinner consistency than plastisol ink, and soaks into the fibers of the fabric, rather than sitting on top of them. This results in a print with a softer “hand” or feel on the final garment. However, this also means that the ink is more transparent than plastisol, potentially complicating color matching.
Water based inks cure by means of evaporation, potentially creating issues with dry time in either very arid or humid environments. Water based inks would generally be recommended for light to medium fabrics.
Plastisol ink is typically made of a combination of a plasticizer solvent and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) resin. It thus has a thicker consistency than other inks, and will sit on top of the fabric, rather than soaking in and dying the threads themselves. This can lead to a rougher “hand” or texture. On the plus side, plastisol ink will have very good opacity, making color matching much simpler.
Plastisol ink will not dry on a screen as quickly as water based ink, making for an easier print. It also generally cures faster than water based inks, but will usually not set completely unless cured with high heat. It is ideal for printing on darker fabrics.
Discharge ink includes a discharging or activating agent that removes the dye already covering the fabric before replacing it with the pigments in the ink. This results in a soft “hand” or feel, but also means that color matching can be difficult. It can, however, enable printing on dark fabrics without an underbase. Discharge ink can come in both water based and plastisol varieties.
Discharge ink must be dried thoroughly to be activated, and can sometimes have a strong odor. It is recommended for printing on darker fabrics.