Eco-Friendly Screen Printing: Top 6 Benefits of Water-Based Ink

by Wendy Croxford

in Screen Printing

26 Feb 2019  | 0 Comments

It’s 2019– are you still printing with plastisol inks?

Since the early days of fabric printing, plastisol ink has understandably been the go-to ink for most printers. It was much easier to use compared to water-based ink since it required fewer steps and was easier to work with.

But that was then.

Water-based inks have improved dramatically over the years in terms of quality and ease of use, so much so that many professional printers are now switching to water based inks for screen printing, and even prefer them due to their performance, safe use and enviro-friendly credentials.

Screen printing with water-based ink @one69 studios in Manchester, UK

This is no fad. The fact is, water-based inks are getting better, and many printers even consider them the more superior ink. Why more superior, you say? Here are the top six factors:

  1. Eco-Friendly Ink
    This is probably water-based inks’ greatest edge. In today’s world where protecting the environment has become a top priority, water-based inks allow printers to do their part. While most plastisol inks are now pthalate-free, that still doesn’t make them the most eco-friendly option out there. Being made from a mixture of PVC resin and plasticiser, they’re still far from being environmentally friendly at all. Water-based inks on the other hand, are completely free of PVC resin or plasticiser, and with Permaset’s eco friendly screen printing inks are also completely free of harmful ozone depleting chemicals and aromatic hydrocarbons. Now that’s what you call eco-friendly!
  2. Better for Health
    Because they are free from harmful chemicals, water-based inks are safe not just for the environment but for printers to use as well. There are no harsh chemicals or solvents that the user can inhale, and they wash up easily in water.
  3. Soft Hand
    Unlike most plastisol inks, water-based inks produce a soft hand. The ink penetrates deep into the fabric and becomes a part of it instead of merely sitting on top, giving your prints unparalleled softness and flexibility. This makes garments and homewares printed with water-based inks much more comfortable for the wearer and safe for use against delicate skin.
  4. Higher Quality Prints
    Because they sit deeper within the fabric, water-based inks are able to produce longer lasting prints with impeccable detail, with much more defined, sharper edges. This includes half-tones and more, making them the perfect choice for printing really intricate, detailed designs.


Water-based inks are excellent for printing intricate designs with sharp defined details like this shirt by designer MERDA of Ballarat printed with Permaset Supercover inks.

  • 5. Easy Clean Up
    Since they are water-soluble, water-based inks are easier to clean up after printing and require no harmful chemicals to do so – just water. Screens can also be easily cleaned up with water or an eco-friendly screen wash.
  • 6. More Business
    Regulations and laws have already banned the use of pthalates on infant garments, so if you’re looking to offer these kinds of printed items you’ll have to go pthalate-free or use water-based inks. However using water-based inks won’t just increase your business by giving you the ability to expand into the children’s wear market, many customers prefer and actually expect water-based organic prints. This way you are printing organically, prints are softer and ‘breathe’ better as opposed to plastic prints that feel heavy and make you sweaty underneath, and there is no chance of a plastic print leaching into your skin with water-based inks. The quality of the print is also outstanding, and best of all it’s environment friendly, something that more and more conscious consumers are seeking every day.

Baby onesie printed with Permaset eco-friendly ink by @maseandleo

Sustainable clothing brand @imearthie chooses Permaset eco-friendly inks to print ethically and organically.

Using water-based inks for screen printing has never been easier or more advantageous than it is now, so if you haven’t already you may want to make that switch as soon as possible. Get started by getting hold of some Permaset water-based ink. Click here to find your closest Permaset stockist, or you can Buy Permaset Online here or for more information see our Permaset information page



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