What is Water Based Ink?

What is Water Based ink and why do we like to print with it?
Water based inks are screen-printing inks that are water soluble.  They differ from traditional plastisol inks in several ways.  Water based inks are much thinner and when printed with, will be absorbed into the fibers of the garment, becoming one with the shirt.  This allows garments printed with water based inks to have little to no feel and retain the garments original flexibility and breathability.  Water based ink prints should also last as long as the garment they are printed on.  Plastisol is much thicker and sits on top of the garments fibers.  This causes the garment to lose breathability and some flexibility.  Plastisol ink has a shorter longevity and will crack and peel over time.  Water based inks also allow greater ability to print fine detail, especially with multiple color designs.

If water based ink is so great why isn’t everyone using it?  
Most screen printing shops are still using plastisol ink because it is easy to work with.  Plastisol ink is a thermos plastic, meaning it will stay in its liquid form until heat cured, so printers don’t have to worry about inks drying in the screen while they are setting up and printing a job.  Water based inks will air dry if left open or in a screen too long.  This means that a printer needs a greater deal of experience and trouble shooting skills due to the narrow time limitations when printing with water based inks.

Looking for an even softer feel? Learn more about discharge inks and how they give that super soft, lightweight, breathable feel.