Best ink for screen printing
There are two main types of ink that are used for textile printing. Water-based ink utilizes either dyes or pigments in a suspension with water as the solvent. The evaporation of the water is necessary to set or cure the ink. This curing can take place either at room temperature or using a forced-air dryer depending upon the specific water-based ink used and the speed or volume of production.
Plastisol ink is a PVC (Some inks are Phalide Free) based system that essentially contains no solvent at all. Along with UV ink used in graphic screen printing, it is referred to as a 100% solid ink system. Plastisol is a thermoplastic ink in that it is necessary to heat the printed ink film to a temperature high enough to cause the molecules of PVC resin and plasticizer to cross-link and thereby solidify, or cure. The temperature at which most plastisol for textile printing cures at is in the range of 300 °F to 330°F.
Both types of ink are very popular. However, for the most part, they are used in very different applications. Plastisol is the ink of choice for printing of finished goods such as T-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, and tote bags. Water-based ink is the ink of choice for the printing of yard goods; either in piece form or on the roll. Both inks have technical advantages and disadvantages for use in specific applications. They also each have their own environmental impacts and these should be considered for the particular application and shop setup.
Advantages of Plastisol
Plastisol can best be described as a user-friendly ink because it is very easy to manage.
Plastisol can be left in the screen for extended periods of time without clogging the mesh. It is ready to use right out of the container more than 90% of the time. In most applications, it can be printed wet-on-wet, which allows for increased production speeds. It comes in formulations that can be printed on light and dark fabrics. And, in most municipalities, the disposal of waste plastisol is a very simple process.