The success of a custom t-shirt depends on many factors – it has to look attractive, it has to be durable, and the design needs to be just right! When it comes to getting the design right, it is important to use the right printing ink. If you do not use the right type of ink, the whole design will fall apart. In screen printing, one of the most popular printing techniques, the type of ink used matters because each comes with its pros and cons. Hence, it is imperative to understand the features of different types of inks to enable the use of the best ink that suits your t-shirt design.
Let’s take a look at some of the commonly used inks in custom t-shirt printing in India!
Types Of Ink Used For Printing Custom T-Shirts In India
Here are some of the inks custom t-shirt printing companies in India use…
1. Plastisol Ink
A commonly used ink in screen printing, plastisol ink is versatile and durable and thus perfect for custom t-shirt printing. It is a thick ink and easy to mix as well. Another advantage is that it is well-suited for different types of screen printing. Plastisol ink has high density and thus does not arch, and with its viscosity, the ink is suitable for softer prints, thus making it a preferred option for professional t-shirt printers in India. The viscosity factor also helps to create opaque prints allowing better coverage, a feature that helps while printing dark garments.
Plastisol ink is also a practical option for printers because of the accuracy it lends while matching the Pantone colour system. Since it works on almost all types of fabrics, custom t-shirt printers love using plastisol ink.
Though plastisol ink has several pros, there are also some cons. For one, it is not sustainable, and hence, today, many printers are looking at other options. The ink is very thick because of which it does not get soaked into the fabric but only settles above it. It gives the design a rubbery or plastic feel to it. Though there are ways to reduce the thickness, the final effect may not be as fine as you would want.
Plastisol ink prints cannot be dried in the sun, but requires curing. It is a chemical process where a heat source is used to heat the ink to a specific temperature.
2. Water-based Ink
The main benefit of water-based ink is that it binds with the fabric, lending the essence of a dye. Hence, the print does not look as if it is resting on the garment as with plastisol ink. The print appears softer and more solid with water-based ink. The ink works best for light-coloured or white fabrics. When water-based inks are used on darker fabrics, you can lend a vintage look to the print.
Even a novice printer can work easily with water-based inks as it is easy to work with.
There are also several disadvantages to water-based inks. Since it is in liquid form, when printed on dark garments, the colours may look dull. Thus, the inks do not have high opacity or coverage. To use water-based ink on dark shirts, you will need a white base.
Since it water-based ink, you will have to wait till the colour dries out. So, if you are printing during the rainy season, or in humid conditions, you will have to use a heat source to dry the fabric.
You could also face problems in getting custom colours because the colours may not look the same after printing because of ink’s semi-transparency.
Another downside is that water-based inks work best only on cotton fabrics. Though you can use it on other fabrics also, you will not get the same colour, but only the muted version. These days, printers have devised ways for water-based inks to work on other fabrics as well, but that will require more effort and time.
Also, water-based inks do not have a shelf life because it will dry out after some time. Even if you add a discharge agent, you may have to use it within 48 hours.
Water-based inks are eco-friendly and if you wish to work with it, learn the best ways to use it first. If used well and correctly, you will be able to get some great prints with the ink.
3. Discharge Ink
Discharge inks tend to remove the original colour of the garment and replace it with its dye. It is available in plastisol as well as water-based ink types. Many printers use discharge ink because it works well on dark garments without under basing.
A disadvantage of discharge ink is that it works only best with 100% cotton. For the discharge ink to fully cure, a heat source is necessary. Also, the printer has to be experienced and skilled to work with discharge inks. Since the inks let out a heavy smell, the workspace should be well-ventilated.
Discharge inks can be an asset to any printer as long as they understand the working and learn the proper ways to work with it. Working with discharge inks save printers’ time and money.
4. Special Effects Ink
Today, custom t-shirts come in varied designs and effects. Gone are the days when custom tees were white t-shirts with a small logo. As the popularity of personalised t-shirts grew, so did unique designs. When you want distinctive designs on your t-shirts, the ink too has to be unique.
So, to bring about different effects such as metallic, fluorescent, shimmer, or glow-in-the-dark, special effects ink helps. There are many different kinds of special effect inks, each lending a unique look to the garment. One of the most popular speciality inks is the glow-in-the-dark ink. Many also love a little sparkle on their t-shirt. Hence, now metallic speciality inks are also popular with printers. Custom t-shirts with a touch of shine and sparkle are a win-win situation for the brand and the wearer.
A custom t-shirt trend that refuses to fade is the vintage effect t-shirts. There are special inks to lend that vintage feel to tees. The suede inks give a suede-feel to t-shirts which are a hit with the youth.
Heat–activated and light-activated colour changing inks are also getting popular. So, your t-shirt changes colour when it is at a specific temperature or light. Imagine you come outside your house wearing a particular colour and bam! As you step into the sun, the earlier colour changes and there is a new colour! How exciting is that!
Though special effects inks help create astonishing and eye-catching designs, they are not easy to work with and needs practice as well as precision. Available in plastisol and water-based inks, speciality inks may work well with only certain types of fabrics.
Various factors determine the choice of ink for screen printing, from the budget and design, to the end goals. There isn’t anything such as the perfect ink because it will vary from project to project. If you want to go with an eco-friendly option and a super soft tee, then water-based ink is the way to go. But for bright prints and working with blended fabrics, plastisol inks are better. Then again, variations in both types of inks are available, which allows different options in custom t-shirt printing. What you should do is get as much information as possible and choose the one that will lend uniqueness to your custom t-shirts.
If you are looking for good-quality custom t-shirts, get in touch with us at Champu.
Note: The images used in the article are for representational purposes only.