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What's the difference between water-based ink and plastisol ink?Updated 3 years ago

How much time do you have? Think of the inks like oil and water. Plastisol is an oil-based ink. Water-based is an ink made and dispersed with water. They vary in many areas. Let's dive into a few.

First up, printability. Plastisol is typically thicker than water-based ink. Plastisol can be left in a screen for extended periods of time and still be able to be printed. Plastisol needs to heat up and hit cure temp all the way through, which can be accomplished quickly. Water-based is typically runny and very creamy. It will also dry on the screen quickly (spray bottle of water with fine mist will help this issue). To cure water-based ink, you must first evaporate all moisture, then bring the ink up to cure temp. You must hold it at cure temp for 30 seconds. Curing water-based ink is 2x-3x longer than curing plastisol. Adding Warp Drive helps ensure the ink has been fully cured.

The inks have different looks and feels. Water-based is softer, thinner, and far more pliable and tends to have a more matte finish compared to plastisol. It has more of a fashion feel. In general, plastisol is heavier and thicker on the garment and tends to have a glossier look. 

Lastly, clean up. Plastisol requires chemicals to clean up. Water-based can be cleaned with a detergent (i.e. Dawn) and water.

We're just skimming the surface here. Other factors like your equipment are different between the inks. To learn more about the differences between the two, please read this blog.

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