Screen Printing on Organic Fabrics? Consider Your Screen Printing Inks

by Wendy Croxford

in Screen Printing

28 Jun 2021  | 0 Comments

If you’re creating organic screen printed T-shirts or textiles, it’s vital to consider organic inks as an integral part of the process. After all, why go to the trouble of sourcing environmentally responsible, organic fabrics such as linen, hemp, bamboo or cotton – only to print on them with toxic inks?

For true organic screen printing, steer clear of plastisol inks

The very last thing you’ll want to add to a beautiful organic cotton T-shirt is a layer of plastisol inks. Plastisol inks are still used in screen printing due to their durability and vividness – however, their chemical makeup can make them potentially harmful for the screen printer and the environment, as well as anyone who interacts with the printed textiles. Plastisol inks are made up from PVC plastic particles dispersed in a plasticiser medium. Unfortunately this means that:

  • As prints are heat cured they can give off fumes that include Vinyl Chloride Monomer (VCM), a known group 1 carcinogen as classified by the IARC.
  • Plastisol inks can leach plasticisers into the skin of the fabric wearer or user. Some phthalates used in plasticisers can have endocrine-disrupting (hormone-disrupting) effects.
  • In addition, the clean-up of plastisol inks can require the use of strong solvents. In fact – both plastisol inks and their cleaning solvents often require specialised disposal methods to avoid them entering waterways.

With all of these concerns, there’s little wonder it’s illegal to use plastisol and other petrochemical-based inks on underwear and baby clothes in many locations, including The European Union and the US.

So what’s the alternative? Fortunately water-based ink technology has come an incredibly long way, and it’s now easy to source high quality and safe organic inks that can provide a vivid and long-lasting result.

The ideal choice for organic ink printing

PERMASET’S PERMATONE® water based range, developed here in Australia, is the first textile ink range outside the UK to gain Soil Association Approval. This means these inks meet the requirements of the Global Organic Textiles Standards (GOTS) for non-organic chemical inputs for use in organic textile processing.

In simple terms? That means:

  • You won’t come across any CFCs, HCFCs, plasticisers, PCV or VCM fumes with PERMATONE® organic inks
  • You can safely and confidently print underwear, baby clothes and swimwear with these inks
  • You can proudly promote your organic products knowing they’re far safer to print and wear

 

A baby onesie printed by PRINT INK in Melbourne using PERMATONE® inks.

A baby onesie printed by PRINT INK in Melbourne using PERMATONE® inks.

 

Our water-based inks are also vegan and are not tested on animals, and are made with 100% renewable energy.

Of course, another attraction of our PERMATONE® range is that it’s been developed with professional colour matching in mind. You can mix the PERMATONE® colours together to produce 1,869 different colours to match brand logos and corporate colours. So whether you’re creating prints at home and have a specific colour in mind or you are printing thousands of T-shirts at your commercial screen printing business, the  PERMATONE® water-based ink range is ideal for your colour matching needs.

 

PERMATONE® organic approved ink set, ready to use or mix.

 

PERMATONE® organic approved ink set, ready to use or mix.

 

What was the process for gaining organic approval?

We originally set out to develop a solvent-free ink system around 2003/4. As a result we launched PERMATONE in 2005, and after a few customers suggested we gain organic approval we realised this range was very close to meeting the requirements for organic fabric ink. We fine-tuned our ink formulations, sourced and tested new raw materials and underwent the Soil Association’s in-depth approval process to ultimately gain approval in 2012. We’re incredibly proud that our products meet these high standards, contributing to a safer screen printing industry with a lower environmental impact.  The Soil Association Approval has this year been updated to the most recent GOTS 6.0 organic approval

 

Printing yardage at Ink & Spindle in Abbotsford Melbourne using PERMATONE Inks

Printing yardage at Ink & Spindle in Abbotsford Melbourne using PERMATONE Inks

 

T-shirt by Killer Merch in Melbourne for the 2020 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras

T-shirt by Killer Merch in Melbourne for the 2020 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras
was screen printed using PERMATONE organic approved inks.

 

For organic screen printing ink that is truly worthy of gorgeous organic linens, cottons, hemp and other textiles, explore PERMASET’S PERMATONE® range today.

PERMASET® INKS DO NOT CONTAIN OZONE DEPLETING CHEMICALS SUCH AS CFCS OR HCFCS. THEY ARE ALSO FORMULATED FREE OF AROMATIC HYDROCARBONS. PERMASET® IS FREE OF VOLATILE ORGANIC SOLVENT AND DOES NOT CONTAIN PVC RESIN OR PHTHALATE PLASTICISER

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