The Best Screen Printing Inks for Today’s Fabric Printer

by Wendy Croxford

in Screen Printing

1 Mar 2019  | 0 Comments

Screen printing with Permaset water-based ink at Kick and Screen in Melbourne

The standards for today’s screen printing inks have changed tremendously over the years. Where once only coverage, colour and ease of use were considered when choosing printing inks, today printers are more discerning than ever when it comes to their ink. Now many other factors matter, including the feel of the ink on the fabric, versatility, durability, health and environmental impact. When all these other factors are taken into consideration, it can become quite difficult to determine which ink is truly the best choice for you. However, one type of ink comes very close to meeting all these requirements, and that’s water-based ink.


Water-Based Ink: Tomorrow’s Inks Today

The water-based inks of yesteryears are a far cry from today’s water-based inks. Today’s water-based inks are not only easier to use, they’re also able to deliver pure, intense colour that rivals and even surpasses that of plastisol inks. Because of their smoother consistency, water-based inks are able to permeate deeper into substrates, thereby resulting in a softer feel and a longer lasting print. What’s more, because they are water-based, they contain no harmful chemicals such as PVC and phthalates, and don’t need volatile solvents to clean off.

Environmental impact is a particularly important point to consider when choosing printing inks nowadays. Our environment has never been in a more fragile state than it is now, and every move we make counts in either contributing to the problem or the solution. With water-based inks we have an eco-friendly, high quality option, ultimately making them the best ink choice for screen printing in our world today.


Our Top 4 Water-Based Screen Printing Ink Products

  1. PERMASET AQUA Standard & Glow Colours
    The PERMASET Standard colours and Glow colours are by far PERMASET’s most well-loved inks, and for good reason. These inks can be used straight from the tub and are excellent for printing onto light coloured fabrics and textiles. With their range, opacity and depth of colour, many screen printers find themselves immediately switching to water-based inks once they try PERMASET AQUA inks. Based on carefully selected pigments and the latest advances in polymer technology, PERMASET AQUA delivers exceptional colour, durability, and an irresistibly soft handle. And of course, with absolutely no toxic or ozone depleting chemicals or heavy metals, it’s safe for both printers and the environment. PERMASET AQUA comes in Regular (transparent) and SUPERCOVER (opaque) ranges to cater for printing onto either light or dark fabrics, and both types feature fantastic Glow colours that grab attention with their vibrancy. PERMASET AQUA inks can be used on a full range of fabrics including Cotton, Polyester, Silk and most synthetic fabrics. Low odour, easy to clean, rich, vibrant, vegan and eco-friendly to boot, PERMASET AQUA truly is the ink of the future today. PERMASET AQUA is revolutionary in that it is among the first water-based inks to offer superior performance and eliminate the historical trade-off between performance on the screen and post-production performance of the finished garment. This includes user comfort and safety, as well as environmental sustainability. It’s passed the Oekotex Class 1 standard, with select PERMASET AQUA Process Colours having been granted Approval by the Soil Association of the UK (GOTS 6.0)

    ‘The Eye’ multi-colour print onto black fabric by Full Throttle Graphics USA using PERMASET SUPERCOVER inks.

  2. PERMASET AQUA Screen Printing Kit
    This is the perfect beginner screen printers’ kit.  Complete with 1 silk screen, 1 squeegee, 6 beautiful PERMASET AQUA ink colours, masking tape and instructions, it’ll have you screen printing like a pro in no time! The PERMASET AQUA Screen Printing Kit comes with the PERMASET Standard colours which are of course, 100% solvent-free with an environmentally-friendly formula, yet still deliver intense colour and coverage.  Once heat set these colours are both soft and strong – soft to the touch yet resilient even in the most severe rub and wash tests.  With the PERMASET AQUA Screen Printing Kit, you can start printing on a variety of light-toned fabrics made of natural or synthetic materials immediately.
  3. PERMASET Metallic Inks
    PERMASET Metallic inks form part of the PERMASET AQUA range and offer superb coverage in Gold Lustre, Copper, Silver and Pearl White. When you require prints that will stand out and shine without being too over the top, the PERMASET Metallics range are the perfect fit. Made with the same eco-friendly water-based formula, the Metallics are totally free from harmful chemicals but offer exceptional brilliance and durability. The PERMASET Metallics also deliver a lovely soft print which is comfortable to wear.
    Black t-shirt printed with PERMASET Metallic Copper ink by Little Gold Fox
    When you want to achieve a higher level of shine to your printed designs, PERMASET AQUA Foil FX are the way to go.  PERMASET AQUA Foil FX are able to achieve a striking, sparkling look in Silver, Gold, Copper and Blue that is ideal for printing designs like sequins and is most effective on dark fabrics.  PERMASET AQUA Foil FX has remarkable light reflecting capabilities because of the large flake size in the ink. This however, means that certain adjustments must be made when using the ink. Firstly, a rather open mesh of 20 or 24T (50-55 tpi) is required to accommodate the large flakes. Secondly, care must be taken in order to maintain the print. Because of the large flake size rub resistance can be poor. Lastly, it is best to use this ink in smaller, broken up areas or designs since in large slabs, stretch is compromised and the large mesh can be clearly seen.

What to Look for When Buying Screen Printing Ink

If you’re still wondering which ink is the best choice for you, here are the basic things you should consider:

  • Quality – The first thing you have to consider is the quality of your ink. You want to make sure that the ink offers rich, vibrant colour, superior coverage, and permanence once heat cured.
  • Substrate Compatibility – You’ll want your ink to be compatible with the material it’s going to be printed onto, otherwise the print may fade easily or not look the way you want it to.  If you’re not sure which inks are suitable for a certain substrate, it’s best to go for versatile inks like PERMASET AQUA that can be applied on a variety of fabrics.
  • Brand – When it comes to screen printing ink, brand matters. Established brands like PERMASET® have spent decades perfecting their products so you know you can rely on them.
  • Your Design – You have to consider your design when choosing your ink. Generally, because of their finer consistency water-based inks are more suited for detailed designs. They’re also the recommended choice if you are seeking a softer feel.
  • Colours – Of course you have to consider the colours you’ll need in your design. You may also have to consider any other type of ink you may want to use, for example if you want to use a bright, neon (or glow) type of ink or one with a metallic finish.
  • Environmental Impact & Health Impacts – Last but certainly not least, you have to consider the ink’s environmental impact, and its impact on your health as well. As we’ve stated above, environmental impact has now become a significant factor not just for choosing inks but for choosing consumable products in general given the present state of our environment. And your health and well-being should always be considered as well, especially if you’re exposed to printing inks a lot of the time. You’ll want inks that are free from harmful chemicals that could be detrimental when inhaled.
    PERMASET eco-friendly ink logo

    In considering sustainability when deciding to print, PERMASET inks are the most environmentally responsible choice


To find your closest PERMASET retailer or outlet visit the PERMASET Stockist Search


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