Best Water Based Screen Printing Ink: Reviews in 2020

Screen printing is probably one of the easiest activities that look hard. And when it comes to printing with water-based inks, then it feels even harder.

You can get rid of that difficulty by using the best water based screen printing ink. While the process can still be somewhat intimidating, there’s nothing to worry about.

The right printing ink, even if water-based, can make the print more durable, a lot softer in texture, and way more environmentally friendly. Sure enough, water-based inks for screen printing also look superb – so there’s nothing to hate about them.

If you’re looking for an excellent water-based screen printing ink, then you’ll find everything you’re looking for in this article. Head down for more info.

Need a quick suggestion? Here you go:

Top 6 Best Water Based Screen Printing Inks 

So, are you a screen printer looking for water-based ink? Then you’ll love learning about the best 6 options in the market. Here’s a review of each:

1. Speedball Special Fabric Screen Printing Ink

The first option in our list comes from Speedball – one of the most quality-oriented brands in the market. It delivers next-level results by increasing durability and adhering perfectly to most fabrics.

Not only that, but the water-based formula also ensures excellent adherence to cardboard, paper, and even wood. You can use it on a wide array of materials, and it will stick well enough.

Because this is an Opaque color ink, you will get the best result on dark fabrics. Thanks to its 16 color options going from Red to Yellow, Purple, and even Burgundy, there’s no project impossible to do with this one.

This gets better when you consider the vibrancy of the color and a perfect composition that spreads smoothly. You can make the most gorgeous screen prints with this ink.

Once the ink dries up, the texture is extremely soft and feels amazing on the skin. And sure enough, it’s totally safe and non-toxic. Even if you need to apply lots of it – there won’t be a smell to be annoyed about.

Lastly, the container is 8 ounces in size. That’s enough ink to cover several shirts and pieces of fabric at once. You’ll have nothing to complain about with this one.

Highlighted Features:

  • Super opaque for extra intensity
  • Offers 16 different colors
  • Smooth composition for easy use
  • The extra-soft texture looks superb
  • Decently-sized container that lasts

2. Speedball Fabric Screenprinting Ink Starter Set

Another Speedball water based screen printing ink option to consider would be the Starter Set. This one boasts several quality ink containers so you can enjoy a complete screen-printing experience.

The colors are super vibrant, so you get no less than exceptional results from the first time. Each jar is 4 ounces in size, so you get enough to paint several pieces without falling short.

If you want extra versatility, the inks also provide excellent adherence to a wide array of materials, including fabric, cardboard, and paper.

This goes well with the matte finish. Instead of a super-shiny finish, this one feels soft and matte-like, so you can enjoy interesting results no matter your needs.

The colors are outstanding, nonetheless. You get yellow, red, black, green, blue, and white. That’s enough to get any project done with ease.

Despite all that, every drop of ink is safe, low-smell, and easy to work with. You won’t find a single issue with the set.

And that’s without even mentioning that you can clean the ink whenever you want. With a water-soluble formula, getting rid of the ink won’t take much of an effort.

Highlighted Features:

  • Works in a wide array of fabrics
  • Adheres well to different materials
  • Premium colors for excellent results
  • Totally safe & smell-free
  • Water-soluble for easy removal

3. Jacquard Professional Screenprinting Ink

When it comes to quality inks, few match the Jacquard Professional. What sets it apart from the competition is the quality adherence, making it possible to use on materials that other inks don’t.

For example, you can use the Jacquard Professional on vinyl, wood, and even leather. This is something you won’t get with other options.

On top of its excellent versatility, you still get a beautiful finish. Each color you get ensures maximum brightness and makes it easy to achieve proper coverage. And if that wasn’t enough, it still allows superb detail on every trace.

The finish of the paint is also excellent. You get a semi-gloss result, totally dry-cleanable and durable. No matter the use, you’ll find the ink to withstand the use like no other.

While the ink is super versatile, you also get a 72-hour curing process. No need to wait too long as it cures by itself in less time than many other quality options.

Whether it is casual or commercial use, few inks offer the quality of the Jacquard Professional. With its ability to prevent wrinkling on paper, feel super smooth, and still last a long time – you won’t find many inks like this one.

Highlighted Features:

  • Gorgeous ink tones
  • Semi-gloss result in every trace
  • Cures in 72 hours
  • Ideal for casual & commercial use
  • Works in plastics & woods

4. Hunt The Moon Water Based Screen Printing Ink

Among the highest-quality brands in the market of inks, few can match Hunt the Moon when it comes to color vibrancy and durability.

This water-based ink works primarily on fabric. That means you can create the most interesting designs on your T-shirts, tablecloths, pants, and a wide array of other fabric-made products. Still, the ink works well enough on cardboard, paper, and similar materials.

The advantage, however, comes from the easy-to-spread formula. With a smooth composition, you can create the most intricate designs without exerting much effort. It sticks well to the fabric and delivers smooth spreading from the first trace.

This ink also comes in a practical set. You get 6 jars with colors like Bright Green, Black, Midnight Blue, Rocket Red, Lemon Yellow, and White. Together, they add up to a highly convenient set that you can use for almost any project imaginable.

Still, the jars last several uses thanks to their 8-ounce size. That’s enough to paint hundreds of shirts and print fantastic designs.

The bet about this ink is the ability to cure in just 3 minutes with a heat gun. You can enjoy an almost instant product without wasting any time or worrying about it losing strength.

Highlighted Features:

  • Amazing adherence to paper & fabrics
  • Boasts 6 jars with different colors
  • Perfect viscosity allows ease of use
  • Leaves a smooth & soft surface
  • Large enough jars for tons of uses

5. Ecotex Water Based Fluorescent Discharge Ink KIT for Screen Printing

As you can guess from the name of the brand, this water-based ink makes screen printing a much more environmentally-friendly process.

Ecotex is one of those brands that combine amazing results with unique features. The eco-friendly formula not only delivers a super-safe experience but also ensures maximum color quality.

You can create top-notch designs on a wide array of materials as well. Thanks to the wide variety of colors going from Electric Blue to Tang Orange, Hot Pink, Nuclear Green, and many others – you get no less than top-notch results.

Following this, you can guess that every color on the set is fluorescent. That means you get one of the brightest color combinations, ensuring a super visual experience with each. Also, they work amazingly well on dark fabrics.

Of course, the ink works wonders mainly on fabrics than other materials. Yet, it adheres and spreads like no other. You can create the most detail-oriented designs as needed and still enjoy a soft and smooth surface.

If all that wasn’t enough, you get a container with a discharger. This ensures a clear and super matte-like experience, so you can enjoy a beautiful design no matter the fabric’s color.

Highlighted Features:

  • Outstanding fluorescent colors
  • Exceptional adherence in fabrics
  • Delivers a matte-like texture
  • Jar with discharger for better results
  • Allows detail-oriented brushes

6. Ecotex Water Based Ink for Screen Printing

The last option on our list comes from Ecotex too. This one is the largest version as well, offering up to 5 gallons of ink per container.

You can pick between different sizes, though. It is available in an 8-ounce version, a quart option, a pint container, and in a gallon. For those who want even more ink to enjoy, it also comes in a 5-gallon container.

It is important to know this is not a typical ink. You get a discharge ink instead. That means you can paint on any fabric color, and the paint will get rid of the original tone. You won’t have to worry about the fabric color overlapping the print.

Still, you get a superb soft-hand experience. The smoothness the ink leaves on surfaces is just unbeatable for the cost. And if that wasn’t enough, the ink still looks amazing after it cures.

Another interesting part is the bright and quality colors you get. The standard option comes in White and offers such a high opacity that you can enjoy the whitest of results.

Sure enough, it all comes down to its low viscosity and it's easy-to-spread formula. You won’t have to waste your time applying this ink – it makes the whole designing process a total pleasure.

Highlighted Features:

  • Extra-low viscosity for better spreading
  • Discharge ink for deeper adherence
  • High-quality color options
  • Available in different sizes
  • Delivers a super soft texture

What to look for while buying Water Based Screen Printing Ink? 

If you’re looking for a quality water based screen printing ink that delivers every single feature you need, then it is critical to know what to look for. We want to help you with that by explaining a list of factors to consider. Here are some of them:

Looks & Texture

If you want a quality screen-printing ink, you’ll need to make sure it looks exactly how you want. Even though screen-printing inks tend to be opaque, you may still want to go the extra mile and pick the right texture.

We recommend matte inks over all others for their smoothness yet still opaque looks. But if you want a little more brightness, you can pick glossy options. These usually have a slightly shinier look.

Similarly, the texture can have a huge impact on how well it works. Smooth & soft inks are better than porous ones, especially if you’re using them on fabric.

Whatever you go for, make sure the color is vibrant, and the texture is smooth enough for your needs. That should be enough to surpass all your standards.

Colors & Mixing

Want to achieve exceptional designs depending on your needs? Then you’ll have to take a deep look into the colors you want.

These inks usually come with primary colors, as well as some combinations like purple and orange. But some inks may also offer fluorescent or shiny options, going from metallic colors like silver and metallic blue to fluorescent green and yellow.

On top of that, you may also consider the mixing capacity of the formula. Some inks offer the chance to mix several colors at the same time so you can obtain a unique blend.

But overall, you just need to pick inks that work correctly with your project needs. So make the right decision, so you don’t fall short in options.

Durability & Resilience

If there’s something you should never overlook is the durability of the ink. Not all water-based inks will offer the same durability even when their compositions and formulas are similar.

That’s why we heavily recommend those that provide a strong bond to the surface. These are usually thick and give a heat-treated experience, so you need to heat them up for them to set.

At the same time, you want something that’s totally waterproof. So be sure the ink doesn’t deform or get off the material when washing, especially if you apply on fabric. It should be totally cleanable to prevent any issue.

Compatibility & Adherence

Pairing up well with the durability of the ink, you can also consider its material compatibility and adherence strength.

As for compatibility, you will find water based screen printing ink for paper, for cardboard, wood, vinyl, and sure enough, fabrics.

Not all inks work the same way, so it is critical to pick something that adheres to the material you want. So be sure to consider the specific ink’s qualities before choosing.

Some inks work better on synthetic fabrics and plastics than they do in natural fabrics. In contrast, others only work well with textiles and paper and nothing else.

Application & Curing

Applying ink should be smooth and easy. No matter the brand or color you’re using, the process should demand no effort from your part more than a single swipe of the brush.

That’s why you should consider the smoothest inks. They shouldn’t be too thick that you can’t spread them around easily. But they shouldn’t be too thick either.

The perfect composition is between thick and thin, so you can spread with maximum freedom and still enjoy excellent precision without ink running everywhere.

Similarly to its application, you also need to look for the curing process. Some inks may take 5 minutes to cure, while others may take up to 48 hours or more. So be careful before picking, or else you may end up with ink that lasts too long or doesn’t meet your demands.

Quantity or Size

Last but not least, you may also want to consider how much ink there’s in the container you’re going for. What we mean is how much ink you can obtain for the cost.

An inexpensive jar may offer between 4 to 10 ounces of ink. That’s enough to get tons of different projects done.

A large and high-quality ink may go up to a gallon of total ink. But sure enough, you probably don’t need that much.

On the other hand, you may want to consider ink sets that don’t offer one jar with one color but several containers with various tones. That could be an excellent addition to your screen-printing supplies, so you don’t need to buy extras individually.

How Long Does Water Based Ink Last?

A jar of water-based ink can easily last 1 year if you’re not using it much. Of course, if you keep the jar well-stored in a dry place with ambient temperatures, then you can make it last twice as much.

But that’s when the ink is not being used. If the ink is already applied on a fabric or surface, then you may get anywhere from 6 months to 5 years.

Water-based inks are usually durable enough to last a long time. However, it depends heavily on the specific formula and whether it is waterproof, anti-brittle, etc.

Can you Use Water Based Ink on Fabric?

Yes, almost every water-based ink for screen printing is compatible with fabrics, especially natural ones like cotton.

It is safe to say that getting a water based screen printing ink for fabric is pretty common. As most people use these inks to make designs on T-shirts and other garments, there’s a high chance the ink you’re getting also does.

So don’t worry. You can use water-based ink on fabric without issues. It was probably made precisely for that.

Is Water Based Ink Waterproof?

Yes, most inks used for water based printing are usually waterproof. You won’t have to worry about the ink coming off with humidity.

This also happens because inks are generally used for T-shirts and similar garments. Sooner or later, that garment will have to be washed. For that, the dry ink will have to be waterproof, or it won’t last long.

So, yes – it is safe to say that most water-based inks are waterproof. Even the lowest-quality may be able to last a long time with constant water exposure.

What is The Difference between Plastisol & Water-Based Inks?

So, you’re almost ready to make your pick, but you found out about plastisol. What is it for? How does water based screen printing vs plastisol compare? What should you consider about these two?

Here, we’re going to explain every single factor that tells one from the other, so you don’t get confused and can be happy with your choice on water-based ink.

Texture

The first difference is that water-based inks leave a “soft-hand” texture. That means they don’t create something easy to feel on the surface. It may adhere so well to the fabric or material that you barely feel the ink.

Plastisol, being a thicker material, tends to leave a denser surface that is indeed easy to feel. It is often rougher as well, which some people can find undesirable.

Ink Adherence

An ink that goes deep into the fabric or material it’s being used over tends to provide superior results. Not only they look better, but they also promote better coverage. This process will increase durability as well and will make it harder for the ink to come off when cleaning.

Plastisol adheres well to most materials, but nowhere close to water-based inks.

Colors

You can also consider the color availability of water-based inks in contrast with plastisol. Water-based inks usually offer unique combinations and effects that you won’t find easily with plastisol.

This doesn’t mean plastisol doesn’t offer them, but water-based inks are ideal for their ability to adhere and leave a softer texture. So they’re more likely to have these unique colors.

Curing

When it comes to how they cure, you’ll find that water-based inks tend to last a little longer. This happens because their water base tends to take a longer time to dry up.

Because plastisol is made of a PVC base, you’ll find it cures really fast. On top of that, you can leave PVC to dry automatically without having to use any heat on it.

Durability

Which is more durable, a water-based ink or plastisol? Well, you’ll be excited to know that they’re similarly long-lasting. However, it is safe to say that water-based inks can stick longer on fabrics than plastisol does.

This happens because water-based inks adhere almost entirely to the material – be it cotton, cardboard, or any similar surface. Plastisol, in contrast, tends to brittle up over time, especially if exposed to constant high temperatures.

Ease of Use

Following the same properties that make water-based harder to cure but softer in texture also makes it easier to use. Yes, while water-based inks tend to be a little thinner than plastisol ones, they are easier to spread and design with.

It doesn’t mean plastisol is not easy to use, but it doesn’t meet the same smoothness that water-based inks do. So you’re likely to find it a little harder to spread around and paint with.

Conclusion: 

Getting your screen printing designs done is only possible if you have the best water based screen printing ink. So don’t hesitate and pick one of the options we reviewed.

We know it is hard to pick only one. The unique features some of them offer and the amazing results you can get accordingly will make it tough. But if you follow our advice and read our buying guide to the letter, then you’ll end up with the right one.

So don’t waste your time and learn about them with this article. Then choose the ideal screen-printing ink with a water base accordingly. You won’t regret it.

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