The Inks We Use
Waterbased and discharge ink versus traditional plastisol ink
- There are two main categories of screen printing ink:
- Waterbased / Discharge ink
- Traditional / Plastisol ink
Since 2008, Vacord Screen Printing has been known for discharge screen printing. Discharge ink is a type of waterbased ink. It works by removing the fabric’s dye color and optionally replacing it with another color. Waterbased inks contain pigment held in a water based solution of varying viscosity, and can air dry. The discharge inks, however, require a lot of heat energy to activate. They go onto the garment almost clear looking at times, and then once passed through a conveyor belt oven, the chemicals activate and the “bleaching” effect takes place. It takes a lot of time and energy for a proper cure of a discharge print, so large, professional screen printing ovens are needed. Some regular waterbased inks can be wash-fast without curing with heat.
The example below is an Anvil 980 shirt in the Moss Green color. The shirt has been printed with bright clear discharge ink with a black trim. On the enlarged section, you can see how the discharge ink has removed the shirt’s color to become nearly white, like the raw cotton’s original color.
Note: Discharge inks can work on blend fabrics, but this printing is considered experimental and the customer has to be aware that the results may not be as perfect as 100% cotton
Traditional ink, or plastisol, is PVC-based ink (polyvinyl chloride) and is considered a solid ink. It can never dry on its own, and requires being cured with heat. It’s a wonderful solution for cases where the garment can’t be printed with discharge ink, such as blend shirts, hoodies, or athletic wear. Polyester cannot use discharge ink, so all Dri-Fit and 100% polyester athletic clothing requires plastisol printing for best results.
The two images below are good examples of using just one layer of plastisol ink on heather blends. This results in a soft print with a vintage look to it, and is something we specialize in. Put yardbirds and goruco pictures below