Water Based Ink Printing

Water Based Ink Printing
20th October 2022 5th Team

What is Water Based Ink?

Now, this probably won’t come as any great surprise. The salient point about water based ink is that it’s good old H2O which provides the medium for the pigment. In short, it’s mainly water. That said, there are other liquids in the mix when we talk about printed apparel. And, there are different types of water based screen printing ink. In a moment, we’ll go into greater depth on these and other aspects of printing with water based inks. Before that, let’s briefly add a little context. Water based printing ink is used every day by a high volume commercial screen printer such as ourselves. Indeed, it’s increasingly popular. Especially in light of the ongoing push towards more eco friendly methods of production. As a consequence, it’s significant in not just Fifth Column t-shirt printing but many of the other garments we customise.

Okay, time to dig down and discuss details. Consider nuances, compare alternatives, and see where we stand with water-based. Plus, have a gander at a few of the wonderful waterbased ink prints we’ve created here in our London print shop. As a water based ink printer we get asked a lot of questions on the subject and we’re always pleased to provide answers.

Water Based Ink Screen Printing Use Cases.

So, what is water based screen printing? Well, that’s fairly straightforward. It’s creating printed merchandise with inks which fundamentally consist of water. But, it does give rise to another, rather important question. Specifically, is water based ink good for screen printing? Yes, is the simple answer. You can achieve truly stunning results using water based printing ink. Providing it suits the requirements of your project. For example, these inks are great if you want a print that’s soft to the touch because they’re absorbed into the cotton. Somewhat similar to a dye. As a result, they’re also ideal for t-shirts with a vintage, retro-inspired feel. Plus, the print itself is durable and often lasts the lifetime of the garment.

Earlier, we mentioned different types of water based screen printing ink. Low solid inks are best suited to printing light coloured t-shirts. Whereas inks designed for dark garments need to be high solid content. Beyond that, there are water-based options for special effects like metallic, glow in the dark and reflective. Oh, we also touched upon the fact that there other constituent parts in water based printing ink. To explain, a binding agent is necessary and this is usually acrylic or polyurethane.

Unsure if water based ink will work with your design? Get in touch with us.

Water-based Ink vs Plastisol Ink.

What is the difference between plastisol and water based inks? It’s a common enquiry. Although there are many inks used in screen printing they fall into two main categories. Obviously, the one we’re currently discussing. The other is plastic based inks, plastisol ink printing. Actually, there is a third. Namely, hybrid inks which feature properties of both water and plastisol. But, let’s put hybrid to the side. For the purpose of this article, it makes sense to concentrate on the other two.

  • When it comes to screen printing water based ink vs plastisol, water based is widely viewed as the most eco-friendly method. That said, there continues to be advances in this area for plastisol. And, it’s worth remembering that cleaning screens always needs to be done in an environmentally conscious manner. Even with water, disposal can be an issue.
  • As already stated, water produces fabulously soft prints. Conversely, those made with plastisol sit on the surface of the fabric and can feel slightly stiff.
  • In the main, plastisol is less expensive. Therefore, the obvious choice when budgets are tight or printing t-shirts in bulk.

In the Print Shop.

  • Although it’s possible, water based inks are generally avoided when printing polyester. Chiefly because curing is problematical. Consequently, plastisol inks are considered the best option.
  • In commercial circles, plastisol is still preferred for decorating dark coloured clothing. On the whole, it’s also thought more dependable for bright and vibrant finishes.
  • From a screen printers perspective, working with water based ink is more difficult. Notably, it dries at high speed on screens. In contrast, plastisol can be left overnight and still be workable the next day.
  • Again, from a printers point of view, shelf and pot life are factors. Plastisol in sealed, unopened containers can last 15 years and up to a month when opened. With water, that drops at best to a couple of years sealed and 2 days once open.

Water Based Ink Printing Examples.

Right, let’s take a look at examples of the water-based ink printing process. Truth is, we can rarely resist the chance to show off our workmanship. Below are some photos of water based ink screen printing t-shirts we’ve made here in London.

Markedly different results to plastisol with Water Based Ink Printing.

Water Based Ink Printing

You get a superbly soft finished prints with Water Based Ink Printing.

With superbly soft finished prints

Water Based Ink Printing is perfect for certain designs.

Which are perfect for certain designs

Water Based Ink Printing is ideal for a vintage vibe.

And absolutely ideal for a vintage vibe

You can create more than t-shirts with Water Based Ink Printing.

Plus suitable for more than t-shirts

The environmental appeal of Water Based Ink Printing.

All with environmental appeal

The Number One Choice for a Water Based Printer.

Why choose us as your water based ink printer? For one thing, we’re screen printing experts. As such, we’re thoroughly conversant with the ins and outs of water based ink. For another, we put our heart and soul into every print run. Whether that be a small order or thousands of corporate branded shirts. Put simply, we genuinely care. You can be assured of high quality bespoke merchandise. Plus, open and honest pricing backed by real customer service. Basically, we’re only happy when you’re happy. Needless to say, we’re also committed to reducing our environmental impact and recognise the eco appeal of water based screen printing ink.

If you want to read more on the subject, we also have a resources article: Types of Ink for Screen Printing T-Shirts.

Want t-shirts made using water based screen printing ink UK print and supply? Click HERE to get an online printing quote.

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