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5 Advantages of Screen Printing with Water-Based Inks

Feb 2, 2018

Get Better Screen Printing with Water-Based Inks

In the screen print industry, plastisol inks have long been the go-to option. Compared to water-based inks, plastisol inks are much easier to print with, there is less pre-press work, and essentially any entry-level printer can get away with using them. Because of their ease of use, that’s what most printers stick with.

The use of water-based inks, though having significantly increased in the past few years, is still avoided by a majority of printers, and understandably so. The attention to detail necessary to print with these inks is, on its own, enough to make even a chemistry professor a little cross-eyed.

However, despite all the extra work required to correctly print water-based inks, we believe they are a superior alternative to plastisol inks. Check out our Ink Options page for a breakdown of the major differences between the options.

What’s that? You want a list of reasons why we think water-based inks are the cream of the crop? Good, because here it is.

5 Advantages of Screen Printing With Water-based Inks:

1. More Eco-Friendly than Plastisol Inks

Although plastisol inks have come a long way in the sense that the vast majority are phthalate-free nowadays, they are still not the most eco-friendly option. Plastisol ink is made by mixing PVC resin and plasticizer together. We won’t go too much into the chemistry here, but as you’re probably aware, anything plastic-based isn’t great for the environment. Water-based inks are much more eco-friendly because they are completely PVC free and, hence the name, water-based; i.e., they have a solvent base consisting of water. They’re about as environmentally-responsible as you can get in this business.

If you want to up the environmentally-conscious-ante even more, check out our Eco-Friendly Shirts page for info. There, you’ll discover options for finding the right eco-friendly shirt for your project.


2. Soft Hand

This is just industry jargon for the feel of the print. It means that the print feels soft against your hand. In fact, once a shirt printed with our water-based ink is washed, you nearly can’t feel the print on the shirt at all. The next time you order shirts and want a soft print, use this term instead of feeling like you’re at the mechanic trying to replicate the noise your car is making.

3. Sharper Details

Due to the fact that water-based inks dye the fabric instead of sitting on top of the fabric, as is the case with plastisol, it can hold much finer details. In addition to finer  detail, the edges of prints are much sharper as well. If you’re like us and salivate over small details in a t-shirt print, water-based inks are definitely up your alley. If you’re in the camp of ‘Nah, that’s weird,’ you can at least rest assured that we really care about the details of the printed shirts that we put out.

Awesome T-shirt Printing and eco-friendly water-based screen printing with water-based inks by Offbeat Press screen printing & t-shirt design

4. Longer-Lasting Print

Water-based prints are insurmountably more durable than plastisol prints. Chances are, you have an old shirt laying around that looks cracked and faded from washing it so many times. That, unfortunately, is somewhat just the nature of the beast when it comes to plastisol inks. Of course, proper printing, curing, etc. from any professional printer and proper washing care on your end can help combat that. But, the longevity of plastisol inks will never compare to that of water-based inks. Because these inks dye the fabric, the print actually becomes part of the shirt. That means as long as the shirt holds up, so will the print.


5. It’s a Free Upgrade

You read that right. We offer a FREE upgrade to water-based ink on any order you place. Keep in mind, these inks can be finicky on certain fabrics. We’ll let you know if the garment you want doesn’t play well with water-based inks or you can order an ink test on any style of garment you want.

Along with getting a free upgrade, printing with water-based inks can sometimes save you from paying for another color. If you’ve ordered shirts in the past, you may know that an underbase is required when printing plastisol on dark garments. If you’re unsure about what an underbase is and why it’s necessary, you can read up on it here. In short, if you want dark shirts and you go with water-based inks, you’ll be able to save on the extra screen required for a plastisol underbase.

Hip Hop T-shirt Printing and eco-friendly water-based screen printing with water-based inks by Offbeat Press screen printing & t-shirt design


At the end of the day, water-based inks are, hands-down, the way to go. If you’d like an even more in-depth explanation about how these inks work, check out the Water-Based Printing page on our site.

Ready to get the ball rolling on some new designs or classic reorders? Let’s get a quote started today.