Which one is better in Silk screen printing, plastisol ink or water based ink?
Before I choose which one I prefer, I will share my experience with these two type of inks.
What is plastisol ink?
Plastisol is a suspension of PVC particles in a liquid plasticizer; it flows as a liquid and can be poured into a heated mold. Along with UV ink used in graphic screen printing, it is referred to as a 100% solid ink system.
- Outdoor/Indoor - You can print anywhere and anytime
- Vivid Color - Higher opacity of ink because of not penetrating in the fabric
- Easy to manage - You don't need to clean the screen after printing which really saves time for your next project.
- Mesh friendly - You don't need to un clogged every time you print
- Cannot be ironed - Since Plastisol ink is a thermoplastic, it remelts if it comes in contact with anything hot enough.
- Rough texture - Needs to heat press to meet smooth hand feel
- Higher ink opacity
What is water based ink?
Water-based or water-borne inks first came into use for flexography in the 1940s and most commonly with absorbent substrates such as newsprint, pressure sensitive label stock and corrugated board. Water-based inks dry on these substrates by a combination of evaporation and absorption into the paper.
- Smooth print - Water based print is very smooth because it penetrates in the fabric.
- Ink penetration
- Easy to print - Don't to go all out when printing
- Not suitable for hot environment - screen clogging very often is a headache
- Drying too quickly - need to keep up coolness to avoid clogging
- Clogging on-screen often times
- Not suitable for continuous printing
- Cleaning after printing is a must - this is my dilemma. You are very tired after printing dozens of T-shirt and you still need to clean to avoid screen damage.
My choice is plastisol ink. Plastisol ink is very easy to manage and you can save a lot of time when cleaning. You can also minimize the ink waste when cleaning the screen unlike water based. Plastisol ink is also screen friendly maximizing screen durability.