Screen Printing Ink

Ink of course is a very important part of successful screen printing.  Knowing which ink to use for the type of sub strait your are printing on is critical.  There are two types of ink used in the screen printing industry, Plastisol and water based.  Plastisol is the primary ink used in garment printing.  Plastisol ink will work well on most items you will be printing on.  It is very durable and will stretch quite a bit.  The other nice thing about plastisol ink is it doesn’t dry in your screen like a water based ink will.  I have left plastisol in a screen for weeks and it can still be used to print.

One thing you have to watch out for with plastisol ink is dry cleaning and ironing.  Both will damage the print.  When printing with plastisol ink you will need to make sure that the item you are printing on can withstand temperatures of 320 degrees F and the item is not smooth.  You need the sub strait to be porous so the ink can sink in and grab the material.

Plastisol inks come in many colors and types.  Some of the different types are:

All purpose Ink

This is the ink you will use most.  It works well on light color shirts and using as an under base for printing light colors on dark shirts.

High opacity Ink

High opacity inks are designed to cover better when printing on dark items.

Athletic Plastisol Ink

A more durable ink to be used on athletic uniforms like football jerseys. This ink can also be used on Spandex and Lycra.

Curing plastisol ink

Like I mentioned before, plastisol ink will not air dry.  In order to cure the ink you need to heat it to a temperature between 280 and 320 degrees. When your just starting out you can use your oven to cure plastisol but,be careful when curing the ink as not to scorch your garment.

Conclusion. When starting out screen printing it is best to go with a general purpose plastisol ink.  It will be easier to work with and will work well with most things you will be printing.


Custom Shirts Spokane

Hey Steve, informative post. It would be great to post something on waterbased inks as well. I started out printing with it and now love it WAY more than plastisol. I occasionally use a white plastisol because of its opacity, but other than that, I think waterbased inks are sooooo much nicer to work with.



hey Scott, thanks for the input.. Water based inks have a unique look and feel. I do like them for retro stuff. They are tougher to work with because of drying in the screen etc.. I think plastisol is easier for a newbie to start with because there is less to think about like flooding the screen and that kind of stuff.


Screen Printing Supplies

Great post Steve! I agree with Scott, some water based inks can be as easy to use as plastisol inks. I really think it’s important to learn how to print with both types of inks.

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