The Rules For Designing For Water Based Printing  |

Designing for water based printing isn’t that much different from plastisol printing, but there are some minor changes that need to be addressed in order to get the best out of your artwork. The biggest consideration being the number and frequency (or infrequency) of your flashes during the printing process.

With plastisol ink, most people flash once if not multiple times in one design. This gives you a lot of freedom and grace while preparing your art. But, most of the printing done with water based inks will be printed wet on wet. Meaning you will flash much less often. Possibly not at all.

Don’t Get Trapped

When printing with plastisol ink, many people employ a technique called trapping. A method which slightly enlarges the design in each separation and uses the overlapping edges to make registering easier. While this can increase the speed of on-press registration, it requires flashing in-between colors and eliminates the possibility of printing wet on wet.

What Does This Mean?

Printing with water based ink means you can’t use the trapping technique in your designs. Trapping without flashing in-between will cause your water based colors to mix where they overlap, and using fewer flashes will require you to be more mindful when preparing your separations.

  • Don’t use trapping, keep your design edges crisp and accurate.
  • Reduce your under base coverage and use a blocker when printing on darker colors.
  • Use separation software to limit the amount of coverage you need in your under base for more complex designs.

It’s All About The Flash

If you are printing on a manual press, you have the freedom of flashing whenever you deem necessary. Your flash unit is separate and can usually be placed on any platen and swung in and out. When considering your flashes during automatic printing, you have more restrictions. Since your flashes will most likely be placed on a particular station on the press and you may not have as many.

What Does This Mean?

Using flashes on an automatic forces to rethink the print order or your colors, and even the number of colors in your design. You need at least one cool-down station after each flash. On a smaller press, this can drastically reduce the number of colors in your design. When printing water based ink on an automatic,

  • Set up your images to be printed wet on wet.
  • Examine the order of your colors to make sure they don’t need flashing in-between.
  • Avoid trapping, which requires flashing.

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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