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Water Based Inks

Water Based Inks

Not all water based inks are equal. We only use water based textile inks. No discharge printing, no transfers, no PVC or phthalates. No compromise.

Why use water based inks?

Most commercial screen printers print garments using plastisol inks, which are easy to use and last well. However, plastisol inks contain PVC and phthalates that are harmful to the environment and have been linked to numerous medical disorders. Plastisol inks also require the use of harmful solvents in the cleaning process. Water based inks do not contain PVC or phthalates and you don’t need solvents to clean the screens down after they’ve been used – you can clean them with water.

The Permaset Aqua inks that we use for screen printing do not contain ozone-depleting chemicals such as CFC’s and HCFC’s, aromatic hydrocarbons or any volatile solvents. They don’t contain lead or any heavy metals. In fact, Permaset Aqua inks do not contain any toxic chemicals at all! Not even white spirits like other water based inks on the market. These inks passed the Oekotex Class 1 standard (with 60% to spare!) and are safe to use on underwear, swimwear and even baby clothes.  The Permatone range of inks (for printing onto white garments or a white underbase) are also certified organic with the Soil Association.

The DTG inks we use are also Oeko-Tex certified as to be free from toxic levels of more than 100 substances known to be harmful to human health. 

If the quality is the same, why doesn’t everyone use water based inks?

Good question. Water based inks can be difficult to use. They air dry and can clog up the screen during printing. It takes a bit of getting used to but it’s worth it. Traditionally water based inks were not as hard-wearing and durable as plastisol inks and weren’t as opaque but things are different now.

Hard wearing, bright colours and high opacity

Permaset Aqua was developed with this in mind and is highly durable to wash, wear and even to dry clean. We recommend washing up to 40°C but don’t recommend tumble drying. The inks contain a superior pigment colour for brightness and opacity, which means that you can use water based inks on dark colours without having to resort to bleaching the fabric using harmful discharge printing. Don’t believe those that tell you that discharge printing is the only way to print onto dark garments and don’t believe that it’s eco-friendly either. Water based inks have the added benefit that they don’t have a rubbery feel like plastisol inks or transfer printing and are softer to the touch.

What about the digital printing inks?

The newly formulated Brother inks that we use for Direct-to-Garment (DTG) printing are also water based and Oeko Tex certified.  They scored highly on the AATCC wash test, showing that they are fully washable and durable, unlike many of the cheaper DTG set-ups.