Categorized | Printing

Plastisol vs. Waterbased Inks

Posted on 01 March 2009 by Shaun

My buddy over at AlrightOk just wrote about the pros and cons of Plastisol and Water Based inks. I read over it and think its pretty informative and something I haven’t really touched on yet on the site so here it is thanks to Ryan of

Be sure to check out his site and his personal brand!

The first thing to take into consideration when deciding which printing method to use is knowing whether or not your printer even offers both. While more are starting to learn how to work with  waterbased inks they are still used far less than the industry standard plastisol inks.  This is generally because they’re harder to work with so if your printer does offer waterbased inks plan to pay more to use them. Printer logistics out of the way what’s the difference between these two and why use one over the other? Well, it gets a little complicated here because like many things dealing with apparel there isn’t any right way to do things; It’s really a case by case basis (dependent on your design, market, personal preference). Some designs will do better to be printed with one method over the other and, if your printer is willing, a combo of inks could give you the best outcome. so lets break down the pros and cons.

Pros – best color accuracy (based off pantone color match),  most resistant to fading, able to layer colors without any blending, cheapest, easiest to find a printer for

Cons – creates the most ‘hand’ (feeling of ink on the shirt), can chip or peel over time, when printing over seams can bunch up in tight areas and crumble creating ugly areas in the end product, less ideal for creating faded or ‘vintage’ looking designs, not very ‘green’ (how important this is to your company could weigh heavily in your choice)

Pros – creates little to no ‘hand’, environmentally friendly, can print over seams better since the ink seeps into the shirt itself, great for creating distressed or worn out looking designs, able to layer plastisol over it without any problems (waterbased over plastisol however won’t dry on the shirt)

Cons – generally more expensive, doesn’t work well (if at all) on dark garments, layering colors can cause problems (as you can see thru the layers creating some color mixing), can be harder to do a pantone match (depends on printer), fades after first wash resulting in what could be duller colors than expected

1 Comments For This Post

  1. DB4D Says:

    Very helpful, thanks

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