Water-based textile screen printing can produce beautifully soft prints but presents it’s own set of challenges quite different from those of plastisol printing. Although plastisol ink is the overwhelming preference of the industry, many shops can do both, depending upon circumstances and customer demands.
The thing though is not to be fooled into thinking that “water” implies environmentally friendly. All kinds of nasty chemicals can be suspended in water. This is why we’d rather see water-based ink manufacturers promote their product on its printing merits rather than exaggerating its eco-friendliness in comparison with plastisol inks.
For instance one water-based ink manufacturer claims as follows: “As a compound, water-based ink is much more gentle on the environment than plastisol ink. It simply doesn’t contain any of the toxic chemicals of its plastisol counterparts (no PVC, no phthalates). Instead it’s comprised of naturally occurring substances.” This is a gross misrepresentation of the truth. You only have to examine some water-based MSDS to know better. They also fail to mention that plastisol inks free of PVC and Phthalates have been available for years.
So, by all means, use water-based inks but check the MSDS and don’t be fooled into thinking that “water” automatically means “safe”.