October 2021

12 Oct 2021  | 0 Comments

How can you easily make the move to water-based inks?

Making a move from printing with plastisol inks to water-based inks may seem a little daunting.  With a few expert tips you can become at expert at using these eco-friendly inks for screen printing t-shirts, tote bags, yardage, posters and lots more.

Firstly, what are water-based inks?

Water-based inks are just as they sound; they’re inks made from a water-based medium as well as pigments or dye. They’re an ideal alternative to plastisol inks, which are made up of a plasticiser medium containing PVC plastic particles. While plastisol inks were once the widespread choice, water-based inks are increasingly becoming the screen printing ink of choice as they offer great vibrancy, durability, softer prints and a safer printing process.

Why choose water-based inks?

Water-based inks are safer for people, both during the screen printing process and for the subsequent wearer of the printed textiles. They’re also safer for the environment. For example – PERMASET water-based inks don’t include any PVC or phthalates or require the use of harsh solvents to clean up, as is common with plastisol inks. PERMASET’s PERMATONE range of inks have passed the OEKO-TEX Class 1 standard with 60% to spare, and as such are safe to use on baby clothes, underwear and swimwear. You can explore more here on why water-based inks are the better choice.

PERMATONE Inks have Approval of the Soil Association of the UK

How to make the move from plastisol to water-based inks

You might have heard that printing with water-based inks is more difficult than printing with plastisol inks, but ink technology has evolved a whole lot in recent years. All you need is to keep a few basic tips in mind.

    1. Water-based inks can be a little thinner (or less viscous) due to their water content.
      This means when screen printing, you might choose a screen mesh of between 43-120T (110-305 tpi) depending upon the application. This allows the ink to flow easily while minimising the risk of clogging. Choose a water-resistant emulsion when preparing your screens to avoid issues during your print run.


  1. Water based inks can dry out a little faster than plastisol inks.

There are two handy techniques to save your water-based inks from drying out too fast:

  • Keeping a spray bottle handy to rehydrate the ink as you’re working with it, and
  • Keep your screen flooded with ink in between screen prints.

If you’re screen printing a large job using water-based inks, you might also consider investing in an ultrasonic humidifier to keep the air in the room from drying out.

Water-based inks can produce amazing vivid colour with the right preparation

For light coloured fabrics you can print PERMASET AQUA Standard colours straight on, for a lovely vivid print that’s also soft to the touch. For dark coloured fabrics use PERMASET Supercover Inks which are an opaque formulation specifically developed for printing onto dark fabrics without using an under base. However, if you wish to print the PERMATONE Ink colours onto dark fabrics you will need to print an under base of PERMASET Supercover First Down White first, flash the print and then print the PERMATONE colours over the top.

PERMASET water-based inks can produce amazing vivid colour

It’s still important to cure water-based ink prints with heat

You can ensure a colour-fast print when printing onto fabrics by heat curing using a drying tunnel, heat press, tumble dryer or even an oven to carefully ‘bake’ the fabric for a short period of time.

Printers love working with water-based inks

Not only does the eco-friendly aspect of your finished prints appeal more to your customers, but it’s also a great feeling knowing your print team isn’t constantly exposed to harsh solvents and chemicals. What’s more, a thoughtful printing process can result in clear, detailed prints that are beautifully soft and made to last.

To get started with PERMASET water-based inks, explore the full range today.

12 Oct 2021  | 0 Comments

Eco-friendly inks

Why is everyone talking about eco-friendly inks – and what makes them so different to conventional inks? We thought we’d round up all you need to know about eco-friendly inks in one handy article, right here. Let’s begin!

What exactly are  eco-friendly inks?

As the name suggests, eco-friendly inks are those that have minimal impact on the environment.  These inks are so differentiated, because for many decades the printing industry has used petroleum-based options such as plastisol screen printing inks. While plastisol inks produce a durable result, they can cause harmful environmental and health impacts during printing and handling: including emitting Vinyl Chloride Monomer (VCM) fumes as they’re heat cured. Most plastisol inks also include phthalate plasticisers, which are found to cause harm to humans and other living organisms. Plastisol inks and the cleaning solvents used for plastisol inks often require specialised disposal because of their environmental impact.

In comparison, eco-friendly inks are designed to produce a vivid, durable print without these harmful effects.

What are the advantages of eco friendly inks?

There are plenty of advantages of choosing a greener ink option. Here are just a handful of the benefits:

  • Printed clothing is far safer, without phthalates leaching onto skin or into your laundry water
  • If you’re a professional printer, you can proudly promote your sustainable use of inks
  • Customers are increasingly turning to eco-friendly products and processes
  • You and your shop staff can enjoy a safer workplace without breathing in harsh fumes
  • Eco-friendly screen prints on clothing tend to be far softer to touch and nicer to wear (another plus for your customers)
  • Eco-friendly inks are vegan: ingredients are not sourced from animals and inks are not tested on animals
  • There’s far less need for specialised disposal methods if you’re running a print shop.

PERMASET eco-friendly inks are vegan

What are the most eco-friendly inks available?

This depends a little on what you’re planning to use the inks for. There are three key options when it comes to environmentally friendly inks:

 Water-based inks

Water-based inks tend to be the best option for colourful screen printing and fabric printing because they can be heat cured for durability and washability. Made from pigments suspended in a water-based medium, water-based inks are easy to clean up and can produce wonderfully vivid prints on fabric and paper: just explore these eco-friendly design ideas as examples.

 Soy and vegetable based inks

Vegetable and soy-based inks are ultra low in volatile organic compounds compared to petroleum-based products. They’re typically made from natural oil extracted from plants, mixed with other eco-friendly compounds such as resins and waxes. Soy based ink in particular is popular for newspaper and document printing, but does not produce ultra vivid colours in all settings.

UV inks

UV inks are applied as a liquid form but turn solid within seconds once they’re exposed to UV light. One of the biggest benefits of UV inks is the speed at which you can print with them; all without having to worry about VOCs or harsh solvents in the process.

We’ve dedicated a great deal of time to developing our PERMASET AQUA®, PERMATONE®  and PERMAPRINT Premium® ink ranges, which are all water-based. None of these inks contain toxic chemicals, lead or heavy metals. Our PERMATONE range of inks has passed the Oeko-Tex® Standard 100 Class 1 with flying colours, meaning they’re safe to use even on baby clothes and underwear. In addition, our PERMATONE® range of ink has also been granted Approval by the Soil Association of the UK (GOTS V6), meeting the Global Organic Textiles Standards (GOTS 6.0) for non-organic chemical inputs for use in organic textile processing.

Vegan brand @care.wears uses PERMASET eco-friendly inks because they aren’t
tested on animals and contain no animal products

We’re delighted that our range of eco-friendly inks are in use by hobbyists and professional screen printers alike, right across the world. Explore the range for yourself today, or read our 5 quick tips for working with safe to use, eco friendly inks.


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