Screen printing is a great way to create effective, long-lasting promotional items like bags, t-shirts, flags, banners, and more. However, it is important to use the right type of ink to get the best results. Ink used for screen printing is more viscous than standard ink and has a variety of other properties to meet the different demands and expectations of the silk screening process. The most commonly used inks for silk screening are oil-based Plastisol ink, water-based suede, discharge, and expanding ink. People interested in more eco-friendly ink can use PVC and Phthalate-free types.
Most people involved in screen printing tend to use Plastisol ink. It is thick, durable, versatile, and provides clear graphic detail. Plastisol ink is also easy to mix, long-lasting, widely available, comes in a wide array of colors, and works well with a wide range of screen printing methods, equipment, and designs. It can also stay on the screen for long periods of time without drying out. This type of ink’s high density prevents it from arching and its low viscosity allows it to work well with softer prints. It also provides a low gloss, flat finish. Plastisol ink needs heat to dry.
Some people prefer water-based ink because it soaks into the fibers of the fabric on which it is used rather than sitting on top of it like Plastisol does. This gives the screen print a softer feel compared to those made using Plastisol ink. Some people find it gives the print a more solid feel as well. Plus, water based inks are easy to use even for printers without much experience or skill. However, it can take a longer time to dry in humid conditions and may require the use of a heat source. This type of ink is semi-transparent and may require custom color matching to produce a uniform look throughout the garment. It may also require a high count mesh screen and a retarder to prevent flooding of the design.
Discharge ink is available in both Plastisol and water-based types. When using discharge ink, the ink removes the color of the fabric on the areas where it is applied and replaces it with its pigment. This makes discharge ink a popular choice for people working with 100% cotton. It is necessary to use a heat source in order for fabrics silk screened with discharge ink to fully cure. Using this type of ink does require a fairly high level of expertise.
The type of ink that you should choose to do your screen printing depends on a number of factors. These include the type of application, space restrictions, environmental concerns, economic limitations, and your end goals. Water-based ink has risen in popularity due to its eco-friendly reputation. New Plastisol inks are being developed to be environmentally safe as well.
For more information about the screen printing process, of if you would like to discuss an order, contact RiverCity Screenprinting and Embroidery, located in San Marcos, TX.