Choose the Right Ink for Screen Printing Machine

Although there have been various methods for fabric printing, screen printing is the most effective, efficient, and cost friendly until now. There were times when flexo and DTG printing was highly prevalent, but screen printing changed the scene for all.

Screen printing sounds simple. Burn a design, apply ink, move a squilgee, and repeat. But the reality is, the simpler it seems, the harder it is. And choosing a color is the most challenging process of them all.

If you ask a professional screen designer about choosing a color, they’ll tell you that it’s not an easy task. The type of fabric will matter, the type of ink will matter. And you can only get a good texture if you successfully choose the ink for the task.

So how to choose the best ink for your screen printing job? Expert printers say that it depends on the material to be printed on, the expected end goal, and your budget. To make this more comfortable for you, we have curated a detailed description of the inks.

Types of Screen Printing Inks

There are several ink types available on the market. Each of them has a different use case because of their features. Below we’ll talk about some of the most convenient options on the market.

Water Based Ink

This is the most commonly used printing method with screen printers. It is easy to use and can be done by all skill levels. This alone is the reason why this is the 2nd most popular ink type for screen printing, after Plastisol.

One of the benefits of using this color is the saturation ability is fantastic. It works great with all the fabrics, and retention ability is striking.

As water is mixed with the color, the pigmentation is less opaque, and it loses the tone even more after drying out. However, the printing feels soft and very comfortable as the color thickness is moderate.

Plastisol Ink

Plastisol is the most popular for fabric printing and widely used across the globe. The opacity is extraordinary, and it gives the highest contrast on clothes.

The ink is flexible and doesn’t lose its texture quickly. It takes a lot of time to dry up so as a result, the colors can achieve the highest durability possible.

The popularity of this ink has brought in higher demands, and as a result, manufacturers have prepared many variations of this ink. The specific inks can be used as well as a base or pre-made ones.

Discharge Ink

This is a new kind of ink that got popular in recent times. It comes in both water and plastisol categories.

This works in a fundamentally different way. It removes the fabrics own dye and replaces that with your chosen pigment color.

This works with cotton only. So you don’t get many options here. The other

Problems are it creates strong odor and takes time to dry. You have to have a well-ventilated room to print the cure the colors.

So now you know about the major ink types used in screen printing, let’s talk about some factors to keep in mind before buying your ink.

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Be careful while working with polyester

Polyester fabrics can cause an unwanted issue that is color migration. It is basically colored from the material moving into the ink and as a result damaging the whole printing.

The solution here is simple. You can use a specialized ink made for polyester fabrics or cure the color using additives with the ink. If properly cured, the ink can be safe to use with polyester.

Nylons can shrink

If you intend to use nylons, heat the sample fabric before printing and see how it holds up against high temperature. Also, run the item through the dryer to make it shrink and then print the ink.

However, there are specific inks made for nylons, they produce better colors as well.


As you can now understand that there is a range of options for your ink purchase, it is quite a difficult task to do. If you read our post, hopefully, you have an idea on how to approach choosing the ink for your next screen print project.

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