What is water Based & Plastisol Screen Printing Inks

Whenever we talk about tshirt printing inks that are almost always discussed, water based printing inks and plastisol screen printing inks. And immediately there is always a discussion as to which one is better? But don’t worry we are not here to debate on them, instead through this article we want to tell you in detail as what these two are.

Water based printing inks
This is a two part printing ink as it contains base and pigment. Water base helps to keep fabric white and light whereas pigment is helful for creating the colors. It can be a great alternative to plastisol inks. With this printing ink you can attain a vintage and soft look. This ink can easily seep into a fabric and also create minimal hand. It is also eco friendly as they are free of plastic.

But this ink cannot be applied on dark colors as it will be muted. Also, water can go through open mesh counts. Patone colors are also difficult to achieve through printing ink. Water based ink is best used on cotton as they react to cotton better than in the polyester. This printing ink can easily cotton fibre to a new color. One of the disadvantages it has is a shorter shelf life. On an average life of water based print ink is only of one week.


Plastisol screen printing ink¬†Plastisol is best used for tshirts and sweatshirts. It is a polyvinyl chloride(PVC) based ink. It doesn’t have water as a solvent. It is also called thermoplastic ink because it PVC and plasticizer has to be heated at a high temperature for it to be solidified. Generally this temperature varies between 200 – 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

Compared to water based ink plastisol can be kept out for longer periods of time without it being dried up. This can make it convenient to use even for multiple amount of days. The other advantage of plastisol is that it can be used right after taking it out from the container. It comes in many colors from opaque to transparent.

If you use plastisol print for ironing, your design could melt. Another point to note is that plastisol print can be felt more than a water based ink. It is because it leaves a heavier hand on the print. Although there are different methods to reduce the viscosity of plastisol but it will be felt as soft as the water based ink. Compared to water based ink plastisol has a wider range of products.

So this was our take on both screen printing inks. As far as price is concerned plastisol is definitely a cehaper option. But it also depends on your choice as to what purpose you are using the ink.