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Screen printing

Screen Printing: Which Ink Type to Use?

When it comes to screen printing, choosing the right ink can be important for achieving the desired outcome. With so many different types of ink available, it can be challenging for newcomer to know which one to use for your project. In this article, we’ll explore the basics of the different types of ink and provide insights to help you make an informed decision.

Bright Platisol Inks

Plastisol Ink

Plastisol ink is the most widely used and versatile ink type for screen printing. It’s made up of PVC particles, plasticizer, and other additives, which make it thicker than water-based ink. This ink type is great for almost all purposes but really stands out over the other options for it’s results with tonal prints and also

on dark-coloured fabrics producing a vibrant and opaque finish. It’s also known for its durability and ability to withstand multiple washes. If you’re looking for an ink type that’s safe choice for most designs and apparel, is long-lasting and produces bright colours, plastisol ink is more than likely the best choice. There are more eco friendly varieties of plastisol being produced these days including palate free versions, so it doesn’t need to be a negative choice for sustainability any more.

Water Based Ink mixing
Water Based Ink mixing

Water-based Ink

Water-based ink is a popular choice for screen printing because it’s eco-friendly and generally easy to use. It’s made up of water, pigments, and a few other ingredients, which make it thinner than other types of ink. This ink type is great for printing on light-coloured fabrics because it produces a soft and breathable finish. It is not as hard wearing as plastisol and does not work well on darker coloured fabrics but If you’re looking for an environmentally friendly option on lighter bases, water-based ink can be an excellent choice.


Screen printing discharge

Discharge Ink

Discharge ink is a type of water-based ink that’s used to print on dark-colored fabrics. It’s designed to remove the dye from the fabric, leaving a light-coloured print. This ink type is ideal for creating a vintage look, as the print will appear faded and worn-in. However, it’s important to note that discharge ink is only effective on certain types of fabrics, and it’s not recommended for use on all dark-coloured materials. Generally it needs to be used on 100% cotton reactive dyed fabrics and results can vary across dye batches so consistency is not always 100%. But it is excellent for creating a soft hand feel with a more natural looking print for designs where super bright colours are not necessary.

Puff Printing

Specialty Ink

There are also many specialty inks available for screen printing, including puff printing, high build inks, metallic, glitter, and glow-in-the-dark inks. These types of inks can add a unique touch to your project, but they can also be more expensive and challenging to work with than standard inks. It’s important to carefully consider the application and desired outcome before choosing a specialty ink. We will cover speciality inks more in future posts as they have very specific uses.



Choosing the right ink type for your screen printing project can be challenging, it’s an important decision that will affect the outcome of your project. Consider the type of fabric you’re printing on, the desired finish, and any special effects you’re looking to achieve. In general it is best to speak to the experts at your print company to recommend and advise based on the specifics of your projects and how well each ink will work with your choice of designs and garments. At 3rd Rail we love to discuss peoples projects and we are always happy to offer our knowledge to help guide our customers in the right direction, so feel free to get in touch and send over your project details.