Using Waterbased Inks

Permaset Inks


This page will be expanded as time goes on and will evolve into it’s own booklet of some sort.
Also don’t miss the super old school Video says below – it’s good! It’s actually so old the guy has the old swatch books which we re-designed and reprinted about 5 years ago – but he says loads of good back ground info.

Right now I only have time to give you fast points but will also stress that’s going to cover 90% of everything you need to know anyway.

I had the luxury of learning waterbased inks first as I came from a fashion environment that was really about colour choices and repeating patterns on yardage fabrics for fashion and furnishings across all different types of fabrics. As a result the inks weren’t a really big drama – they were just a part of the process whereas a lot of plastisol and solvent printers consider waterbased inks to be difficult as they haven’t learned to handle the waterbased inks properly so they lose screens.

Waterbased inks come in 2 categories. Transparent or Not. Transparent are designed for softer feel and usually to hold their colour integrity printing onto white shirts. Not transparent inks (Opaque Inks) are designed to block out the colour of the shirt below it to deliver colour integrity on whatever colour shirt.

So the name of this game to me is show you a few tricks that will help keep you ahead and printing with real expectations.

Firstly everyone dries a screen when learning – that’s part of screen printing.
But that said – just get your head around the idea that waterbased inks will dehydrate. This happens when people leave inks in a screen and when people leave lids off buckets. Generally – if you keep printing the screen will not dry (or dry much much slower) – if you keep the lid on the bucket it will keep fresh.

Secondly – You will find Opaque and Super Cover Inks will dry quicker in or out of a screen that a regular transparent waterbased ink. It’s thicker as it needs to cover the colour of your shirt.

Atomisers – Spray guns / mist guns used in gardens etc are great. If you printing for a long time on a hot day it helps to spray a fine mist over the screen and general area …. It’s also a good way to deliver some moisture to a screen without having to pull it down (ie. Bring water to the screen  – not the other way around).
It is also very smart if you spray your screen very lightly 10 minutes before you start. It helps the polyester to swell and loosen up and lubricates the path for ink to ‘flow’ through. You can even wipe it down with a damp cloth or both.
I found I could print hundreds of metres of yardage using white Opaque inks and fine line detail using these 2 methods where alot of yardage printers I worked with would fail half way around their first table and have to wash up and lose the day printing.

Chemicals – Glycerine … Glycerine is used in cooking and as a general lubricant. You can find it in any Chemist / Drug Store or in the supermarket cake making section. I have used glycerine in anything except Opaque / Supercover inks but they are invaluable in the super covers on long print runs or when you are learning. Generally 2% – 5% is enough. Permaset have an exceptional version called ‘Extender G’ which is a super dense version which I much prefer but any version will work for you.

When Ink is Drying as you are printing – Signified by literally getting thicker and harder to push (especially with Opaques)
…. here it is …. you print past your design …. spray a mist quickly up into the air above your screen … scoop out your ink with a scraper of some kind into the bucket (really quick) – add water to the bucket of ink (up to 5 – 10%) and mix water back in … as soon as it’s smooth, put it back in the screen and keep printing. Don’t let it be any more complicated than that – just do it pretty fast – you have 1 – 2 minutes which is heaps of time.

Before Printing using old inks – Old inks can be heaps drier than fresh inks straight from teh factory simply as they were dehydrating when they were used last time. So – add some water. I add some water and mix it till I have the consistency of acrylic paint or something like when I first bought it.


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