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The two main types of ink that are used for textile and screen printing are water-based inks, and plastisol inks. Plastisol is the most popular ink in the industry as it is user friendly, able to be used right out of the container, can be stored at room temperature and only “dries” when exposed to heat, not open air. You could leave wet ink on an exposed screen over the weekend without ruining the screen or even wasting the product. As long as it is not contaminated with lint, dirt, or other ink it can be put back in the container and used again.

But there are some significant disadvantages to using plastisol too. The feel of plastisol is heavy which gives the shirt a distinctive look that might not be what the client needs. Plastisol is heat sensitive which means shirts that contain plastisol ink should not be ironed.

As prevalent as plastisol is, water-based inks are an alternative. Here are some advantages they provide:


Water-based ink has a soft hand.

If you are looking for a vintage, soft feel to the finished printed product, water-based is the way to go. This is because the pigment soaks into the fabric instead of standing on top of it like plastisol does. One wash and you can’t even feel the printing on the shirt.


Water-based ink produces a sharper print.

Screen printers pride themselves on sharp prints and a finished product that is faithful to the concept. Since water-based inks soak into the fabric, they are much better for elaborate details on printed products.


Water-based ink is longer lasting.

Old shirts that were printed with plastisol are prone to cracking and fading. Since the plastisol ink sits on top of the fabric, it is very easy for washing or constant wear to chip away at the plastic. The longevity of plastic based inks won’t ever come close to water-based that soak into and become part of the fabric.


Marathon will handle all your screen printing needs.

For more than three decades, Marathon Sportswear has provided the high-quality screen printing services our customers and partners love. We handle both plastisol and water-based printing and will adjust our process to meet your needs and budget. We’ve collaborated with some of the biggest names in fashion and apparel to deliver premium prints. With scalable ordering options, you’ll receive exactly the right design and order size you’re looking for.