Plastisol, High Solid Acrylic, or Waterbase Inks?

Comparing the most common inks

Plastisol, High Solid Acrylic (HSA), and Waterbase inks are the most popular options for screen printing, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a comparison of the pros and cons of each ink to help you decide which type is best for you, your brand, and the environment.

Plastisol Inks:

  • Vibrant and Opaque Prints: Plastisol inks provide excellent color opacity and brightness. They create bold and vibrant prints that stand out.
  • Ease of Use: Plastisol inks are generally easy to work with, especially for beginners. They have a thicker consistency, which makes them easier to control during the printing process. They do not dry in the screen, allowing for longer print runs without the need for constant attention.
  • Good Shelf Life: Plastisol inks have a long shelf life. They do not dry out when stored properly, allowing for extended usability and reduced ink waste.
  • Durability: Plastisol inks offer high durability and wash fastness. They adhere well to fabrics and can withstand numerous washes without significant fading or deterioration.

High Solid Acrylic (HSA) Inks:

  • Eco-Friendly: Water-based inks are more environmentally friendly compared to plastisol inks. They contain fewer harmful chemicals and VOCs, resulting in lower emissions during printing. Water-based inks are non-toxic and can be cleaned up with water, eliminating the need for harsh solvents.
  • Soft Hand Feel: HSA prints have a softer and smoother hand feel. The ink changes the color of the fabric fibers, resulting in prints that are more comfortable to wear and have a less noticeable texture.
  • Vibrant Colors on Light Fabrics: Water-based inks offer excellent color saturation and vibrancy, particularly on light-colored or white fabrics. They can achieve a wide range of colors and shades, providing vivid prints.

Waterbase Inks:

  • Soft Hand Feel: Discharge inks, when properly cured and post-treated, can provide a soft and smooth hand feel on printed fabrics. The original dye or pigment in the fabric is removed, leaving behind a print that feels like the fabric itself.
  • Vintage and Muted Appearance: Discharge inks are known for their ability to create a vintage or muted look on dark-colored fabrics. They can produce subtle and distressed effects that give prints a worn or aged appearance, which is desirable in certain styles and designs.
  • Color Variety: Discharge inks can be combined with pigments to create a range of colors on dark fabrics. By selecting different pigments, printers can achieve an endless variety of hues and shades, allowing for creative flexibility.

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