A comparison of Benefits to Challenges for Water-based Inks

When you pick up a printed garment off the showroom, you pick it up based on many factors. One of the governing factors would be that the print shouldn’t feel rough from the inside or outside of the garment because then it would hinder the comfort of the garment. To get this type of feel and finish, the best type of Ink that can be used is the Water Based Ink. This ink, however, has some Disadvantages as well. This article seeks to point out not just the benefits but also the challenges one faces while working with water-based inks.


If you aren’t aware of what a “soft hand feel” means, it is the condition when the film produced by the ink is not easily felt by hand or skin when you run it across the print. While comparing water-based to plastisol ink, it is always better to go for water-based ink when a soft hand feel is on the requirement list.

A rare occurrence in Ink printing is when you actually need the ink to penetrate into subsequent layers of a garment. Although this technique destroys the design of any other garment but in towel printing you need the ink to wick for proper coverage. Water-based inks are the better alternative in these cases.

Water-based inks are the best choice when high-speed roll-to-roll yardage prints are needed to be generated. One can go for this where very large curing capacity is present.



Water-based inks have the tendency to dry on a screen and clog it, so it requires special attention in order to prevent that. It is necessary to keep in mind that a water-based ink is not left on the open screen for a long time or it will spoil the screen.

There is a need for a lot of drying capacity in order to cure a water-based ink. The temperature at which curing starts has to be maintained until the entirety is removed. This problem is absent in Plastisol ink curing.

A few water-based inks do dry up in the presence of only air. But the level of print produced isn’t very good and catalysts need to be added to speed up the process. When such a catalyst is added to a water-based ink, a factor called “Pot life” is also introduced and all the ink needs to be discarded within that time frame.

It is a slow process to print with this ink and it definitely takes more than one day. Other inks do not take this long. A special type of emulsion is used for water-based inks which do not get attacked by it. A standard emulsion lets the water-based ink destroy the stencil as the emulsion melts in a few minutes.

About the author: John A. Aguilar

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