Is Water-Based Ink The Right Chose For You?

Captivated by water-based inks? Water-based inks are great since they feel so soft on the garment and basic to print standard tasks, however, it ends up being challenging when printing complex art and it requires more legwork. Whether you’re ready for a brand-new challenge or you got a request from a client, printing with water-based inks is an entire brand-new ballgame compared to printing plastisol inks.

What is Water-Based Ink

Water-based ink is the umbrella term to explain all inks that use water as one of the solvents in the ink system. The term covers 2 types of water-based inks– low solids and high solids.

Low solids is a conventional water-based ink. It’s indicated to be printed on lighter garments since it has no opacity. Low solids water-based ink is the softest ink due to the fact that it goes into the fibers of the t-shirt. Release ink is a cousin to traditional water-based inks. While discharge ink has the representative that removes the color from the shirt, both have an extraordinary soft-hand feel.

High solids water-based ink is what you generally see on the marketplace today. The ink has a thicker body and has better protection and opacity. It’s soft, however not as soft as low solids water-based ink– you can feel the ink on the shirt printed with high solids water-based ink.

They also print more like plastisol inks (under base and separations are practically interchangeable between the two). While some high solids inks are high solids acrylic (HSA), others have urethane included instead of acrylic. Urethane produces more plastisol-like properties while still being categorized as water-based ink.

These newer ink systems actually use little water in them. The only time you would utilize water in the ink systems is to help disperse acrylic resin. If there is no acrylic resin and has all urethane, chances are there’s little to no water. Almost all liquids are a solvent. New ink systems are moving far from water (still a little bit, however not as much) to solvent. It’s becoming more like solvent printing than water printing.

The main takeaway is that water-based inks have water in them, 2 types exist, and you’re more than likely to get your hands on a high solids water-based ink.

How is Water-Based Ink Different From Plastisol Ink

Plastisol is an oil-based PVC ink system. Plastisol does not have water in it. The water, or lack of water, makes a huge distinction when it comes to on press usage, flashing, and curing.

Since plastisol does not have water in it, you do not have to fret about evaporation. You might begin a print job, leave in the middle of production, and return the next day to continue printing the job without any problem.

That’s not the case with water-based inks. As quickly as you open the container, evaporation starts to take place. While you’re printing, you have to be conscious of just how much the ink has actually been exposed to the air and know how to adjust the ink throughout production to keep consistency.

For example, the ink will look lighter at the beginning of the process and as you print, the water evaporates, creating a greater concentration of ink/pigment, and leaves the pigment behind, making the color look darker.

Flashing a print will obtain different results for plastisol versus water-based ink. For plastisol, you’d flash the print to get a partial crosslink in the ink system– gelling the ink. The chemical modification in the ink makes the print more like a strong sheet.

With water-based inks, you’d flash the print to vaporize the liquids. The print will not gel-like a plastisol print. The point of flashing it is to dry the water-based ink. Typically printers print-flash-print when printing an underbase.

Throughout this process, water-based inks inherently will look more transparent when printing on the base white compared to plastisol. High solids water-based inks have a slightly lower opacity compared to plastisol, which is why you’d need to work a little more difficult compared to printing plastisol.

Finally, the greatest difference between the two is curing. Curing plastisol ink looks like a breeze compared to water-based ink. Plastisol ink simply needs to reach remedy temp through the whole ink layer.

Treating water-based ink is a lot more involved. Initially, you require to evaporate all the water. If you don’t evaporate all the water, you can not cure the ink. When all the water has evaporated, the staying ink layer (the resins in the ink) require to reach the recommended cure temperature level and hold at that temperature for a minimum of 20 seconds.

Why Would You Print Water-Based Ink

A variety of reasons exist to print with water-based ink. Lots of people like the soft-hand feel of water-based prints. Printing with water-based inks can also produce a great vintage, faded print.

If you’re seeking to do more eco-friendly printing, water-based inks come out ahead of plastisol inks in this arena.

Another reason to use water-based inks is due to clean-up. You don’t require any severe chemicals to eliminate the ink from the screen. Waterworks or you can use environmentally friendly items like Aqua Wash to get rid of any ink that’s stuck in the mesh. It’s quite painless.

Others print with water-based inks because that’s what their clients want, which is what it comes down to in the end.

What is Required to Print Water-Based Ink

To begin with, the darkroom. When printing water-based inks, the emulsion needs to be water and solvent resistant. The quality of the exposure system will always affect the resistant homes of emulsion.

If you have a lower-powered source of light but want to print with water-based inks, use a double cure emulsion. It’ll work best with these types of exposure units, however, the emulsion might not hold up for the whole print run. If you require to do a longer run, we recommend utilizing an emulsion hardener or post-exposing screens before production.

Next, on the press. Keep a spray bottle nearby to keep consistency in the ink. Remember, the ink begins vaporizing as quickly as you open the container. Leaving journalism alone for five minutes will have an effect on the ink quality.

If you reside in a damp climate, you’ll more than likely print with little to no problems. If you have a drier environment, you will face a lot of problems. A humidifier may be handy.

Last but not least, but most significantly, curing. To treat water-based ink, you need to vaporize all the water, reach the treatment temperature, and hold at the temperature for a minimum of 20 seconds.

The most perfect situation is to have a minimum six-foot forced air conveyor dryer; you’ll have the ability to achieve cure in the clothes dryer in 1:30 -2:00 minutes.

If you have a heat press, that’s the next best choice for treating water-based inks. With a heat press, you’d hover it over the garment to vaporize the water and then push it to treat it. It’s a consistent, reliable heat source. The disadvantage to using a heat press for treating is the reality that it’s time-consuming.

If you utilize a flash clothes dryer or a little conveyor clothes dryer, you’re going to need a low remedy ink additive like Warp Drive. Flashes and small conveyors do not supply a consistent heat source, so it’s incredibly hard to attain a cure with them alone. Warp Drive is the most affordable insurance coverage possible, and it pays off.

You include it in the ink prior to you begin printing. Use your flash or conveyor to evaporate the water. Set the garment aside for 2 days and the additive will chemically treat the print.

Low cure ink ingredients are terrific. They’ll cover mistakes you didn’t even know you made. If you decide you wish to print with water-based inks however do not have the best curing devices, get something like Warp Drive. It’ll lower the possibility of angry consumers returning because of prints washing off.