In the past few months, I have been experimenting a bit with different screen printing methods. One in particular that has really caught my attention is water-based dyed inks. Water-based inks and plastisol inks are the two most popular ink styles in the industry. But they couldn't be more different.
Plastisol inks are by far the easiest type of ink to work with and the most cost-effective as well, making it the industry standard for screen printing. Plastisol ink is plastic-based and lays directly on the top of the fabric, covering the top of the shirt with a layer of ink. This results in a heavier print with little or no breathability. They may also tend to peel or crack after excessive washes.
On the other hand, water-based dyed inks tend to be a bit more costly than your traditional plastisol, but are a lot more eco-friendly because they don’t contain any plastics or PVC (polyvinyl chloride). This is as environmentally-responsible as you can get in the business. Discharge ink is a water-based ink that I used on these dark garments to give it a super-soft, retro feel. It essentially bleaches the color away from the garment. Unlike plastisol which sets on top of the garment, discharge is going to be sinking into that fabric and essentially removing the color out of the garment and replacing it with either a pigment that you put into the discharge or just raw fabric color. All discharges are gonna work the best on natural fibers. Normally that means 100% cotton, but on tri-blends, as you can see below, you get more of a vintage look.
It’s not as opaque. We used straight discharge ink with no dye colors. This removed the black dye from the fabric so you can see what the natural fibers of the shirt look like once discharged. Once washed, you cannot even feel the print. In addition, because it’s water-soluble, no specialized chemicals are required for its clean up. This keeps potentially harmful substances out of our waste and water supply.
As an eco-conscious brand, we will continue to do our part to make meaningful changes that reduce our carbon footprint. I am working with my local factory to be able to print more with water-based inks, allowing us to produce not only a more comfortable and detailed-print, but also avoid the harmful effects that may be associated with plastisol inks. In today's landscape, every little bit can help to make our planet a better place.
Stay safe and thank you for your continued support,