Plastisol ink is a type of ink commonly used in screen printing that is made up of PVC resin and plasticizer. It is known for its durability, opacity, and ability to adhere to a wide variety of materials, including textiles, paper, and plastics.
Unlike other types of ink, which are absorbed into the fabric or substrate being printed, plastisol ink sits on top of the surface and is cured using heat. This results in a raised, opaque image that is highly resistant to fading and cracking.
Plastisol ink is used in a variety of applications, including printing on t-shirts, tote bags, and other promotional products. It is also commonly used in the production of decals, labels, and stickers.
One of the key advantages of plastisol ink is its versatility. It can be used to print on a wide range of substrates, including both light and dark fabrics, and it is highly resistant to washing and wear.
Plastisol ink is also easy to work with, as it can be mixed with other colors to create custom shades and effects. It is also highly opaque, which makes it ideal for printing on dark fabrics or substrates.
Another advantage of plastisol ink is its ability to produce vibrant, long-lasting colors. Because it sits on top of the substrate, the ink does not become absorbed into the fabric, which can lead to a loss of vibrancy over time.
To print with plastisol ink, the ink is first loaded onto a screen using a squeegee. The screen is then pressed onto the fabric or substrate being printed, and the ink is cured using a heat source, such as a conveyor dryer or flash dryer.
During the curing process, the ink reaches a temperature of around 320 degrees Fahrenheit, which causes the PVC resin and plasticizer to fuse together and form a solid, durable layer.
Plastisol ink is typically sold in pre-mixed colors, although it can also be mixed with other colors to create custom shades. Some manufacturers also offer additives that can be added to the ink to achieve specific effects, such as glitter or metallic finishes.
One of the challenges of working with plastisol ink is that it requires specialized equipment and facilities. Because the ink must be cured using heat, a conveyor dryer or flash dryer is typically required to achieve the correct curing temperature.
Additionally, because the ink does not become absorbed into the fabric, it can sometimes feel stiff or heavy on the surface of the fabric. This can be mitigated through the use of softer, more flexible ink formulations or by adding softeners or extenders to the ink.
Another challenge of working with plastisol ink is that it is not suitable for all types of fabrics or substrates. Because the ink sits on top of the surface, it may not adhere well to materials that are highly textured or have low surface energy, such as nylon or polyester.
Plastisol ink is also not as environmentally friendly as some other types of ink, as it contains PVC resin and plasticizer, which can be harmful to the environment if not disposed of properly.
Despite these challenges, plastisol ink remains a popular choice for screen printers due to its durability, versatility, and ability to produce vibrant, long-lasting colors. It is particularly well-suited for printing on textiles and other materials that require a high level of durability and resistance to fading and wear.
In recent years, there has been growing interest in more environmentally-friendly alternatives to plastisol ink. Water-based and discharge inks, for example, are becoming more widely used in the screen printing industry due to their lower environmental impact and ability to produce soft, lightweight prints.
However, plastisol ink remains a reliable and effective choice for many screen printers, particularly those working in the promotional products or apparel industries.