The Difference Between Water Based Ink and Plastisol

March 20, 2016

We get this question quite often!
Water based inks and plastisol inks are the two most popular inks in the screen printing industry. Here are the essentials you need to know concerning each ink.

Water based and Discharge ink:

Water based inks utilize either dyes or pigments in a suspension with water as the solvent. Water based inks have a soft hand. A soft hand is the condition where the ink film cannot easily be felt with the hand when passed across the surface of the fabric. Water based prints last as long as the garment does. Water based prints are bright and true, even on dark shirts with the assistance of discharge. Due to the ink soaking into the fabric, water based ink is desired for oversized and all over prints because of the hand, and the result of printing over seams. Water based ink is a higher quality ink that takes significant training to use. Due to the ink dying the shirt, water based screen printers need to have significant knowledge on fabric type and ink reactions.

Plastisol Ink:

Plastisol is a 100% solid ink system. Plastisol has a very hard hand, where you can clearly feel the ink on the shirt and do not allow any breathability. Plastisol ink prints do eventually break down. A break down usually results in a cracked, peeled, or a flaked graphic on the shirt. Plastisol ink prints are bright and true to the design. Plastisol ink was chemically formed to be highly easy to use for screen printers. The compounds allow for the ink to last indefinitely and coat any shirt.


Nine times out of ten, your local print shop only carries plastisol inks. If you’re looking for a high quality, retail ready print, then you should seriously consider choosing water based inks! Here at Mutiny Ink, water based inks are our specialty! Make the right choice, and have us print your shirts. You will not be disappointed!

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