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Guide to the Top Screen Printing Inks Online!

Screen printing inks come in a variety of colours from a vast amount of of suppliers depending on where you are from. We have filtered through a lot of the screen printing inks online to give you a list of trusted and tested screen printing inks to get the best results. This table of screen printing inks focuses on water based screen printing inks, we do not cover plastisol screen printing inks in this list.

Different Screen Printing Inks

Below you can see a list of the most common screen printing inks:

  • Discharge inks – Pretty much bleaches the garment to create a soft hand print, suited for darker garments
  • Plastisol inks – Raised print with bright vibrant colours, however PVC that needs to be cured to dry
  • Water-based inks – Creates a soft hand print where the design blend with the garment, usually made from acrylic and/or polyurethane
  • Hybrid screen print inks – These are a blend of plastisol and water-based inks, lack of phthalates and PVC but come at a higher cost

Textile Printing Ink Finishes

Dependent on what you want your finish to be, you can use a variety of finishes such as:

  • Flocking
  • Expanding ink (puff)
  • Plastisol
  • Suede ink

Compare Screen Printing Inks

Scroll Below Table For Details

Water-based Screen Printing Inks

Water-based screen printing ink is more environmentally friendly than some alternatives, though it’s worth noting it can still be damaging to the environment. These inks are made from acrylic and/or polyurethane and are recommended for beginners and home use. I’d advise using System 3 screen printing inks to start with. You’ll find that with most water-based screen printing inks, you’ll need to mix them with a printing medium and some water. This prevents the inks from drying in the screen mesh and also allows you to control the ink’s density.

With certain water-based inks, they come pre-mixed; this is dependent on the supplier. Water-based inks can be air-dried on both garments and paper. However, for textiles or garments, you might need to apply heat using an iron or heat gun to help cure the ink, sealing it into the fabric and ensuring it’s machine-washable.

This step is crucial; otherwise, you risk having unhappy customers with faded garments. Water-based inks can be easily cleaned off with water and a cloth, eliminating the need for chemicals.

Water-based inks are also thinner than plastisol inks. For dark garments, you might need to print an underbase of white. However, for light garments, direct printing should suffice.

Pros of Water Based InksCons of Water Based Inks
Cleaned easily with waterDry in screen quickly unless using retarder
Can use hairdryer to seal inksHard to match pantone colour after ink has dried
Can be used on paperInk can look washed out on darker textile/material
Eco friendly to some extent
Easy to use for beginners

Ink & Medium

Mix Waterbased Inks 50/50 with Textile Medium

Mixed Inks

Mixed pots of screen printing ink

Plastisol Inks

Plastisol inks, in contrast to water-based inks, demand more intricate handling. They must be cured under a heat lamp or flash dryer; if not, the ink remains wet. Post-printing, these inks necessitate the use of solvents for cleanup, which aren’t environmentally friendly. The inks’ composition includes plastic particles, explaining the need for them to be heated and melted with a flash dryer for effective curing.

From an environmental perspective, the solvents and plastic particles in plastisol inks can contribute to pollution and are less biodegradable than their water-based counterparts. Additionally, prolonged exposure to the solvents can pose health risks, making it essential for printers to work in well-ventilated areas and use protective equipment.

However, plastisol inks come with their set of advantages. They yield longer-lasting prints and produce results that are notably more vibrant and colourful on all garments, irrespective of their shade. For optimal results and safety, it’s advised to use plastisol inks exclusively on textiles and garments.

Pros of Plastisol Based InksCons of Plastisol Based Inks
Designed for textile printingCant be cured on paper
Colour consistencyHave to be cured using flash dryer
Colour densityNot Eco friendly (Contain plastic)
Can easily be matched to Pantone ColourConcern for health after long time using plastisol
Inks do not dry on screenChemicals have to be used for cleaning

For the purpose of this tutorial we shall be working with water based screen printing inks as they are more accessible for beginners to use.

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