The Basics of Screen Printing (Part Three)

This installment of our Basics of Screen Printing will inform you about water-based inks and the comparison of water-based versus traditional plastisol inks.

Water-based inks are composed of water (as suggested by the name) suspended with pigments to create color. Designs for water-based inks can be printed on cotton, polyester, or poly/cotton blends. Colors in water-based inks are seen to be more vibrant, and can provide a softer, more sunk-in feel for the design printed on the shirt.

When properly cured, water-based ink printing can survive many trips through the washing machine. Here is an example of a water-based ink print:

The disadvantages of water-based inks can be that they are more difficult to cure than conventional plastisol inks. Improper handling of water-based ink prints can cause un-dried or mis-dried prints. These prints require a larger heating capacity than standard plastisol. Water-based ink print applications can also only be used on a small selection of mediums such as 100% cotton, and poly-cotton blends, whereas plastisol can be used in larger varieties of material including wicking fabrics. Also, the

When choosing the variety of inks for your t-shirt application, you have to make in-depth decisions in regards to the feel, the texture and the opacity of the coloration. When you have come to a consensus with these decisions, you can furthermore learn to choose which ink is best for you.

The Basics of Screen Printing (Part Two)

What are the different types of screen printing?

There are several methods of printing on garments. With these methods, you can achieve multiple feels, qualities, and distinct looks. By understanding these different methods of screen printing, you can decide which ink is suitable for your application.

Plastisol Ink

Plastisol is the industry standard for inks. It achieves great longevity on t-shirts after multiple washes, a textured feel on top of the shirts, as well as vibrant coloration. There are several types of Plastisol inks that vary from standard, heavyweight and soft-feel. The standard is used by many large clothing companies such as Vans, Hurley, Nike, Supreme, and etc. This gives a light texture over the shirt depicting that the ink is firmly applied and vibrant to stand out. Here is an example of standard plastisol:

Heavy weight plastisol is typically used for shirts that require heavier prints. Imagine a basketball texture on your shirt. It is typical that those are printed using heavy weight plastisol.


Lightweight/Soft-Feel plastisol on the other hand mimics Water-based Ink. It creates a softer texture that is almost sunk into the shirt which isn’t as rigid as standard or heavyweight plastisol ink. Here’s a cool little example that depicts a lightweight soft-feel plastisol:


On later updates, we’ll continue with water-based inks, discharge inks, direct-to-garment printing, and specialty inks. Stay tuned in for more updates!


As always, if you have any comments, questions or concerns, feel free to contact us here at Blankstyle.

Toll-Free: 866 792 5265


The Basics of Screen Printing (Part One)

In our multiple part series, we will be guiding you through the basics of screenprinting. This will furthermore help you understand how the process works, as well as help design purposes for your future clothing label.

The Basics of Screen Printing (Part 1)

Screenprinting is not a simple process, nor is it a difficult one either. In screenprinting, you must understand the process of color separations, design and other important factors. T-shirt screenprinting is not as simple as placing an image on a t-shirt and printing it (as seen in conventional printers to paper). Traditional screenprinting is a process of creating mesh grids, separated by color to displace ink to create an image. There are new innovations that have led up to conventional printing methods such as Direct-To-Garment but do not yield the same results. There are a few determining factors before you actually begin screenprinting.

How many colors is my image?

Images can be comprised of a huge amount of colors, or a small amount of colors. Some standard designs may look like this:

This is considered a 1-color design. After a few washes, you may get a vintage look from the print, as it is more prone to fading without a base.  However, for greater attention to detail, as well as better print longevity, a base is usually recommended (changing your design to 2-colors).  That way you have a more solid, opaque finish on your print such as:

Some more intricate designs may require more screens for colors, and can drastically bring up the pricing to print your garments. You may want to consider doing larger size runs when ordering shirts that feature more colors. Take a look at this Obey Design:


This design alone features the colors: white, orange, black, yellow and green. This can incur 5 set up costs for just one design. If you take that into perspective for a small order of t-shirts, the set up costs drastically increase the prices of the each shirt individually.

It is best to solidify your design and manage techniques that minimize costs. That way you can create better sample runs before investing into buying huge lots of printed garments. On the next part of the “Basics of Screenprinting” series, we will discuss the different types of ink that are used in printing, and deciding which one may be best for your case.