What Is Water Based Ink?  | Screenprinting.com

The simple answer is that water based ink is any ink which uses water as a solvent base to carry the pigment. But, there are a few different varieties of water based ink that make up the full list. From ready for use (RFU) inks, to newer formulations like High Solid Acrylic (HSA) inks.

Here’s an overview of the wide array of water based inks that exist today:

What is RFU Water Based Ink?

If you are new to water based inks, it’s easiest to start with ready for use inks (RFU). These inks come pre-mixed, and are offered in a large selection of the most commonly used colors. You can print with them right out of the bucket onto lighter fabrics, or use a white or discharge under base to get more vibrant prints on dark garments. Ryonet manufactures a RFU Green Galaxy™ ink with a ratio of 80 percent transparent base, 20 percent opaque base and pigment, which gives the inks high coverage and helps to keep them on top of the fabric for the most vibrant colors possible.

What is HSA Water Based Ink?

In the world of water based inks, High Solid Acrylic inks are a newer technology. Developed to combat some of the problems of older water based inks (thin, runny, too transparent), these inks have a thickening binder added to create a formula more akin to plastisol ink. HSA inks don’t dry quickly on the screen, and can easily stretch and stack on top of each other. Which make them ideal for more complex printing techniques, such as halftones and simulated process printing. In addition to these features, they still offer the soft feeling of a water based print when properly cured on a t-shirt. Ryonet’s Green Galaxy™ Water Based Inks are an HSA water based ink hybrid, made with 20 percent opaque HSA base, which allows the ink to sit on top of the shirt fibers versus down into the fibers. This allows you get the best of both worlds in one print. Rather than settling into the fibers and taking on a duller look, it stays vibrant and still feels nice and soft for your customer.

What are Water Based Ink Mixing Systems?

If you want more control over your water based inks then the next step is to use a mixing system. This gives you the ability to control your own colors and ink mixtures. Most mixing systems give you the ability to mix a full range of Pantone® colors using pre-designated color formula. Allowing you to create any color of ink you desire. By mixing your own pigment, you can control the opacity level, with greater ease. Need more opacity or better coverage of your ink? Simply use more opaque base in the mixture and modify the pigment ratio slightly. Some mixing system pigments, such as Ryonet’s Green Galaxy™ Fusion Mixing System, also allow you to use each individual pigment as an additive to use in special effects bases, such as discharge, metallic and reflective inks. Giving you the freedom to tint and create different colors with a wide variety of ink effects.

What are Water Based Ink Additives?

In addition to the many varieties of water based ink, you can make further adjustments by adding specific additives to whatever kind of water based ink you use. One of the most revolutionary additives is a water based low cure additive called Green Galaxy™ Warp Drive. This additive allows you to cure the ink at a much lower temperature than ever before and allows shops without water based curing equipment to use water based inks. Low cure additives like Green Galaxy™ Warp Drive also expand the ink’s application to athletic and non-cotton fabrics, while avoiding heat-related issues, like dye migration.

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?

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How To Print With Water Based Ink


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