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Water Based Printing

Debunking The Myths Of Water Based Printing

Water based printing has a bad reputation: Runny, transparent, and hard to work with. Inks that dry fast in your screens and give you a headache that just won’t go away. It’s a shame too, since the water based inks of today have far fewer of those awful traits you remember from your old poster printing days.

In recent days, new technologies like HSA (High Solids Acrylic) water based ink and low cure additives, have given water based inks a chance to change their ways and they are now being adopted across the world in shops as the new standard form of ink. It’s a water based revolution!

So we’re here to set the record straight.

1. Myth:

“Water based printing is complicated and unpredictable.”

The Truth:

Water based inks have come a long way in developing easy to use products that mimic the printability and appearance of the best parts of plastisol inks. HSA water based options, such as Green Galaxy™ Water Based Inks, are designed to print with the same consistency as your favorite plastisols.

2. Myth:

“You have to invest a bunch of money in new equipment and supplies in order to properly cure water based ink.”

The Truth:

In the past this was true. Since curing water based ink requires a large amount of airflow to filter out the escaping steam, it was necessary to purchase specialized air flash units and conveyor dryers designed to deal with that kind of curing. Today, new low cure additives, such as Green Galaxy™ Warp Drive, allow you to cure your ink with the simplest tools at temperatures even lower than athletic specific inks. This is for you, heat-gun enthusiasts.

3. Myth:

“Your screens will wear out really fast.”

The Truth:

All emulsions are water soluble at some level. This means that when they are exposed to water, eventually they will break down. No matter what. Because the industry has been moving toward water based inks, many manufacturers have taken this issue under consideration and many new kinds of emulsion now exist, such as Green Galaxy™ CryoCoat, which are specially designed to hold up against the kinds of damage that water based inks can cause. So, choose your emulsion wisely and you can print away without worry!

4. Myth:

“You don’t have as much control over water based ink.”

The Truth:

There are plenty of options for color mixing and formula control when using one of the many ink mixing systems that now exist for water based ink, such as the Green Galaxy™ Fusion Mixing System. These give you the ability to control your own colors and ink mixtures, mix a full range of Pantone® colors, control the opacity levels and even allow you to use each individual pigment as an additive to use in special effects bases, such as discharge, metallic, and reflective inks. The options are (nearly) limitless.

5. Myth:

“Water based ink dries out in the screens and makes long runs impossible.”

The Truth:

While water based inks do have a greater tendency to dry out while in the screens due to evaporation, many new formulations have shown remarkable in-screen open time qualities. We’ve even been able to use our Green Galaxy™ Water Based Ink multiple days in a row in the screens, using a combination of proper flooding techniques, light water misting and a plastic bag for overnight storage. Take that 3,000 shirt order!

6. Myth:

“You can’t get pure colors with water based printing, it’s too transparent.”

The Truth:

Most newer water based formulas, specifically HSA and Green Galaxy™ Water Based ink, have a much higher pigment ratio and thicker body than water based inks of the past. Thanks to advancements in ink technology, your water based prints can be just as colorful as the next plastisol print. Add in the possibility of printing on top of a white water based or discharge under base, and you get the softest feeling print with the vibrancy of a rainbow.

Just dipping your toes into the realm of water based printing? Perhaps you’re looking for more information on its pros and cons? Unique benefits and limitations? Requirements and rewards?….Or maybe simply, how to print with water based ink?

Download our FREE eBook: A Beginner’s Guide To Water Based Printing

How To Print With Water Based Ink


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