Water Based Ink vs. Plastisol

So which is better??

There is no perfect answer to this question, but the easiest answer is that it depends.

In a perfect world, there would be an ink that creates a lightweight print with accurate color matching and vibrancy. It would be breathable and versatile enough to print on a ton of different apparel items. Durable enough to last years and stand up to the abuse of the oldest and harshest washers and dryers but also be eco-friendly and cheap. Oh, and it needs to be soft. 

IDoes this perfect ink exist? Unfortunately Not.    Is it possible to have it all? Unfortunately Not.

Now that we have that out of the way

The more appropriate question is not which ink is better? but which ink is better for what I need? 

We didn't want to go off on a tangent about the in-depth differences, so we've decided to get right to the point about when we use these two inks. 

Long Story Short

We typically use water-based ink for all of our DTG printing and a Plastisol based ink for screen printing. After years of ink testing and trying different things, we've settled on this decision. This is not to say that there are not other ways to do things to produce a quality print, but this is what we've found works best for us. 

Looking for More Deets? 

We understand we just answered the great debate of Water Based Ink Vs. Plastisol in a few paragraphs and understand that you might want a little more information. Here's some answers to the most common questions we've seen about both: 

1. Is one ink more durable? 

We don't think so. When it comes to the durability of an ink, there are multiple things that could affect this. Water Based Inks are absorbed into the fabric itself, while Plastisol is bonded the surface of the garment. When it's all said and done, both prints should last a long time and hold up through wash cycles. That being said, we've all had that washer and dryer that is a little too powerful and could cause issues to garments across the board. If you're washing with hot water, bleach or other heavy detergents, no print will hold up well over time. 

2. Is Water Based Ink really more eco-friendly? 

Each ink has some level of environmental impact, so this also depends on the ink that is being used. Unlink Plastisol, Water Based Inks are PVC-free, but do still have some plastics in them for binding, rely on solvents that evaporate and require more energy to dry. So yes, while Water Based Inks do not have PVC and are typically more eco-friendly, it's difficult to come out and say that they're completely eco-friendly. We stand by Water Based Ink being slightly more eco-friendly than Plastisol. 

3. Water Based Ink breaths better, right? 


Short answer: Yes. 

Long Answer: Water Based Inks are absorbed into the fabric itself which allows the fibers of garments to stay open and breath. Plastisol is usually a thicker ink and because it is bonded to the surface of the garment, usually blocks off airflow in a garment and prevents it from breathing as well as Water Based Ink.