Keenworth Screen Printing Inks

Best screen Printing ink for t shirts

How to Buy Ink for Screen PrintingModern printing methods have certainly changed the way people live today. Before the invention of the printing press, for example, books and documents had to be copied meticulously by hand. Today, various types of printing techniques are available, and screen printing is one popular type of printing used on everything from paper to wood. Even with digital methods, silkscreening is still a very viable method of printing. Almost anyone can use this method and ink for screen printing is widely available and cost-effective.

This document informs people on how to choose and buy ink for screen printing. First, it gives a brief explanation on how screen printing works, followed by the different types of screen printing ink available today. Then, the different characteristics of good screen printing ink are discussed, followed by an enumeration of the various advantages of screen printing.

How Screen Printing Works

Screen printing, also known as silkscreening, is a type of printing technique that involves transferring paint to a relatively flat surface using a framed wire mesh and stencils. The design is created by placing the stencil on the mesh and pushing the paint through the frame. The areas that are not covered by the stencil create a negative-space print. This technique is quite popular when producing multiple items of the same design as it is possible to recreate the same print over and over again very quickly, rather than painting each item individually.

To begin screen printing, the person must first cut out a stencil design and secure it onto the framed mesh. Aside from paper or plastic stencils, there are also special masking fluids that can be used to directly create the design on the mesh. The mesh is placed on top of the item to be printed (such as a t-shirt, sheet, canvas, etc.) and paint is poured on the upper part of the screen. Using a rubber squeegee, the paint is pulled down and pushed through the screen. The result is a negative-space print on the surface.

Types of Screen Printing Ink

There are many types of screen printing ink available on the market today. However, perhaps the two most popular types of screen printing ink are plastisol and water-based inks. Over the years, paint manufacturers have also created a wide variety of specialty inks for silkscreening.

Plastisol Screen Printing Inks

Plastisol ink is a special type of ink made of PVC particles and plasticizers. This type of ink is ideal for screen printing on fabrics, due to a variety of reasons. First, this type of ink is not water-soluble, which means the printed items can be washed over and over again without fading the design. Next, plastisol ink will not dry even when left out in the open, so the frame's wire mesh can be used even without having to wash it with water in between printings. Finally, this ink produces a bright, opaque print that makes it ideal for almost any color fabric. On the downside, plastisol ink tends to stick to the top of the fabric threads, instead of being absorbed, which creates a puffy and stiff appearance. Additionally, these inks need to be cured with heat in an oven or special flash dryer after being applied.

Water-based Screen Printing Inks

Water-based screen printing inks are usually made of several different solvents, not just water. Water-based inks are perfect for flat surfaces like paper and other hobby or home applications. These types of inks are divided further into two types: oxidizing and non-oxidizing inks. Oxidizing inks can be dried by evaporation and through a process that is similar to rusting. Non-oxidizing inks, on the other hand, will need to be dried with a heat source like a heat press or iron.

Special Inks

Aside from regular inks that produce solid and bright colors, there are other types of specialty inks that can be used for screen printing. The table below summarizes these different inks:

Specialty Ink


Cracking Ink

Produces a cracked surface texture after the paint dries

Discharge Ink

Used for adding light-colored paint on dark surfaces by removing the existing dye in fabric

Glossy Ink

Added over other previously-applied ink to create a shiny finish

Expanding Ink

A special material is added to plastisol ink to make it expand, which creates a three-dimensional effect

Metal flakes are added to the ink to create a glittery effect

Metallic Ink

Uses the same technology as glitter ink, but with tinier particles to create a smoother metallic look

Suede Ink

A special additive mixed into ink creates a suede-like surface on the paint itself

Buyers should consider their needs when choosing any type of specialty ink, as certain types may be suitable to some projects and others may not. For example, while glitter ink may look great for recitals and stage plays, they are probably not appropriate or practical to be used on sports jerseys since these have to be washed frequently.

Characteristics of Good Ink for Screen Printing

There are hundreds of screen printing inks on the market today and not all are created equal. When shopping for screen printing ink, there are certain characteristics that buyers should look for in order to find the best possible ink for screen printing, including:

  1. Surface Compatibility: Buyers need to purchase inks that are compatible with the surface they plan to print on, whether it is fabric, paper, wood, etc. Not all paints are suitable to all types of surfaces, and buying a paint that is made for a particular surface will ensure that it will be easier to print and the paint will stay on longer. Aside from chemical compatibility, buyers should also consider whether the drying method will be appropriate for the medium.
  2. Thickness: Generally, thick paint will result in a better, more defined print, since it can pass through the screen and onto the surface easier. Thicker paints will also be able to withstand the action of the squeegee and will not spread out too much and ruin the design.
  3. Stable Solvents: Volatile solvents evaporate and disappear too quickly, which makes them unsuitable for screen printing. That is because when water evaporates, the leftover ink will clog and destroy the screen, making it unusable for future projects.

Advantages of Screen Printing

With so many available types of printing techniques these days, some people may wonder why they should still utilize this almost archaic form of printing. Screen printing has certain advantages over other types of printing. It is cost-effective and fast, can be used for a wide variety of purposes, and is durable.

Cost-effective and Fast

Screen printing is not only inexpensive, but it is also a fast way to print out multiple copies of the same design. Silkscreen frames and screen printing ink are relatively inexpensive, especially when it comes to medium-sized volume work. Many professional printers may not take on jobs for less than a hundred copies and using inkjet and laser printers can get very expensive once the volume of work reaches more than a few dozen copies. Screen printing is a cheap and easy way to create several copies of the same design.

See also:
Screen Printing Black ink on t-shirt
Screen Printing Black ink on t-shirt
How To Screen Print White Ink On Black Tee Shirts
How To Screen Print White Ink On Black Tee Shirts
Ink Press t-shirt Screen Printing Promo
Ink Press t-shirt Screen Printing Promo
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