Water-Based Prints - What is Water-Based Ink?

WATER-BASED INK IS AN INK MADE WITH WATER RATHER THAN PLASTIC OR PVC.

WATER-BASED INKS CAN BE SPLIT INTO TWO MAIN INGREDIENTS, WATER AND PIGMENT.

It serves as a great alternative to plastisol ink in many circumstances. One of the most prominent features of this type of ink is that the base does not include plastic, which makes it a more eco-friendly option. The ink seeps into the garment and dyes the material rather than sitting on top of the fabric. This creates a more consistent feel along with a more vintage look after a few washes. We tend to use water-based ink as much as possible because it is one of the most sustainable options for printing.

Water-based inks on dark garments

All shirt fabric for any shirt you purchase starts out as white or off-white. The manufacturer dyes the t-shirt to whatever colors they offer, so even a black shirt is really just a white or off-white tee in disguise. As water-based inks don't sit on the surface, but rather embed into the fibers, they won't "hide" the dye of the shirt. This is very different than plastisol which layers on the surface and covers the dyes.

To account for this, we add a mixing agent to the water-based ink that is specifically for darker garments. This ink, called Water-based Discharge, removes the dye within the image area of the garment and re-dyes it the color of the ink.

DISCLAIMER: Because water-based ink is water-based instead of plastic-based, it tends to fade faster on some types of fabrics. This is the sacrifice of having the best hand feel versus a plastisol print with a higher durability. Above is an Allmade Eco shirt printed with a black water-based ink. The right side was printed and washed once, while the left side was washed and dried about 15 times at various spin cycles and temperatures. Washout does occur at a faster rate for water-based inks than plastisol.

Overall, water-base ink is still a great alternative to plastisol and has a better feel and a significantly smaller impact on the environment.

Click here to take a deeper dive into plastisol and water-based inks.

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