Screen printing may look hard, especially when you use water based inks. But believe me, it’s not. The best water based screen printing ink will take care of the difficulties.
Yes, the process is still a bit intimidating at some point. But don’t worry because the right ink can make the print durable and softer in texture. The best ones are even formulated to be environmentally friendly.
So if you are after the most outstanding options, you are in the right place. In this article, we will provide details and information that you need regarding water based inks. Then, we will review ten premium products that you can choose from.
List of the Best Water Based Screen Printing Ink– editor’s pick:
What to Look for Before Buying
Finding the best water based ink for screen printing will be easier if you know what you are looking for. To help you with that, here are some of the factors that you need to consider first before buying one.
- Compatibility and Adherence
Inks are formulated differently – they do not work the same way. Therefore, it is critical to choose something that is compatible and can adhere to your desired materials. The water based printing inks are generally congruent with wood, paper, vinyl, cardboard, and even fabrics.
But some inks only work well with textiles and papers. Others would suite better on plastics and synthetic fabrics than in natural fabrics. The point here is that you have to check the particular qualities of the ink when choosing.
Picking the right texture is the key to achieve the looks that you exactly want. If you want opaque look yet great smoothness, then you can go for matte inks. But if you are after a brighter one, you can opt for glossy options because they typically have a shinier look.
To ensure that you get the right ink for your projects, you have to take time in choosing its color. Inks typically come with primary colors. But there are also some color combinations as well as shiny and fluorescent options.
You might as well want to check its mixing capacity because some inks allow you to merge several colors to get a unique blend.
Another important factor is the durability of the ink because not all are equally lasting even when their formulas and composition are the same. It is recommended that you opt for those that strongly bond with the surface. Usually, they are thick and provides a heat-treated experience.
Likewise, you would want waterproof products. Make sure that the ink will not get off the material or deform when washing. The product should also be cleanable, especially if you apply it on fabric.
- Application and Curing
In choosing the best water based ink, try to look for the smoothest inks as much as possible. Don’t go for too thick and too thin either as you will find trouble in spreading them. The perfect composition will let you disperse with maximum precision and freedom without the ink running everywhere.
Similarly, you also have to determine its curing process. Some inks take more than 48 hours to cure but others only take 5 minutes. So be careful about not getting those that take too long.
10 Best Water Based Screen Printing Ink
Now that you know how to choose the right water based screen printing ink, it will be undoubtedly easier for you to choose from the options below.
1. Speedball Fabric Screen Printing Starter Set
Let me start from the Speedball fabric screen printing starter set. This is a product that you can trust because it is AP certified as well as conforms to the ASTM D-4236 .
It is ideal to apply this on a wide range of cardboard, paper, and fabrics including rayon, linen, polyester, cotton, and other synthetic fibers. But they can give the best results if you print on light-colored fabrics. Furthermore, the ink offers great coverage and smoother workability.
This item from Speedball can produce permanent results on fabrics especially when you’ve properly cured or heated them. Furthermore, it can deliver a super soft texture for your hands. This is among the top performing screen printing inks because of its rich and bold colors.
It is also safe to use this in the classroom or studio because all colors have an AP seal. That is why it promotes easy water and soap cleanup. Also, this is non-flammable and does not contain solvents or offensive smells.
Despite all that, the brand still offers this at an affordable price. The set even comes in six colors including yellow, green, white, blue, black, and red. Each color of Speedball screen printing ink is contained in a 6-ounce jar.
- Well adherence to various materials
- Premium colors produce excellent results
- Safe to use
- Easy water and soap removal
2. Speedball Fabric Screen Printing Ink, 8-Ounce, White
Another premium option offered by Speedball is this white screen printing ink. You will certainly purchase again from this brand if you experience the quality and performance of their product.
Although you can get this at an affordable price, the manufacturer has specially formulated this one to offer artists with great coverage, vibrant colors, and consistent workability.
Furthermore, they also ensure that it can be used on different materials including paper, fabric, and cardboard. When you print this on clothings, you must heat set the material for a superior permanence.
And for best results, apply this on fabrics with light colors. It is guaranteed to be used safely in your classroom or studio because it can be cleaned with water and soap. But don’t worry, if you wash the fabric the print will not fade because it also features an AP seal.
- Best for light colors
- AP seal
- Great coverage
- Consistency of its workability
- Compatibility on various materials
3. Speedball Opaque Fabric Screen Printing Ink Starter Set
Now let me introduce to you another product from the screen printing ink line of Speedball. This opaque set includes six 4-ounce jars of different colors including black pearl, pearly white, citrine, blue topaz, raspberry, and silver.
These colors provide great shimmer which makes it ideal for adding iridescent, and stunning effects to your prints. Whether you use this on different fabrics such as cotton, blends, polyester, linen, or rayon. But it also works great on cardboard and wallpaper.
Like all products offered by Speedball, this is also guaranteed safe to use. It carries an AP seal making it easier for you to clean up with water and soap only. Additionally, this product is non-flammable and non-toxic. Not only that, but this ink also doesn’t have a unpleasant smell and solvent content.
Its results will be permanent when heat cured properly . Aside from that, this item also produces an ultra-soft hand texture on the fabric. For better results, you can use this on either dark or light-colored surfaces. It delivers great opacity without compromising workability.
- Shimmering and pearlescent colors
- Works on a wide range of fabrics
- Washes fast if heat set properly
- Non-flammable and smell-free
- Comes in six different colors
4. Speedball Fabric Screen Printing Ink, 32-Ounce, Black
If you are after safer printmaking, then you should opt for products that are non-flammable like this one from Speedball. This is a fabric screen printing ink that is highly regarded by buyers due to its excellent features.
Specifically, the manufacturer has intentionally formulated this ink with exceptional working properties. Some of which are consistent workability, great coverage, and vibrant colors. It is safe to say that this is everything you need in printing with water.
In addition to this, you can also benefit from its versatility. The product can be applied in a paper, cardboard, and a variety of fabrics such as cotton, linen, polyester, etc. But to attain excellent permanence on fabric printing, you have to cure this with heat properly.
For better results, use this on light-colored fabrics. Rest assured, it is safe to do so because the ink features an AP sealing that makes removal easier by simply using soap and water.
- Safe to use
- Ease of removal
- Works on various fabrics
- Soft composition
- Best for light-colored fabrics
5. Speedball Opaque Fabric Screen Printing Ink, 8-Ounce, Pearly White
Why would you settle for something less if you can have the best, like this opaque fabric screen printing ink that is also offered by Speedball?
This one produces a pearly white metallic finish that looks like brushed metal. But its pearlescent quality color can change slightly when viewed from a different angle. Nonetheless, this is a great ink that can add shimmer and stunning effects to your printing projects.
On top of that, this also features excellent versatility. The ink is applicable for cardboard and paper. Aside from that, it can also adhere to various fabrics like linen, polyester, cotton, rayon, and any other synthetics.
Whether you use this product on dark or light-toned fabrics, it can deliver greater opacity hence will work just fine in any of them. All the while, the unit does not need to compromise its workability.
The print will be permanent on any fabric if you heat set them. You can do this with the use of your clothing iron, just adjust the temperature based on the type of the fabric and iron one of its sides for about 3-5 minutes and then repeat on the other side.
- Adds luminosity and shine
- Non-flammable and non-toxic
- Compatible with an array of fabrics
- Safe to use
- Great quality metallic ink
6. Speedball Water-Soluble Block Printing Ink Starter Set – 6 Bold Colors with Satiny Finish
The next product in this review is also offered by Speedball. This water-soluble block printing ink starter set comes in six bold colors. All of which produces a beautiful satiny finish.
It is perfect to use in your classroom because the ink can be easily cleaned up with soap and water. The manufacturer guarantees that it is safe to use this water-soluble ink because all colors are carrying the AP seal.
You can use this on any relief substrate. Whether you intend to print on wood, linoleum, or soft block surfaces, this ink can deliver equally excellent results.
The ink will produce a bold color in any print. It will dry to a rich and satiny finish. Aside from that, this product also delivers excellent working properties. The unit allows outstanding adherence that is why it can ensure consistent results and even coverage.
The set includes six tubes in different colors including gold, white, yellow, blue, red, and black. Each tube contains 1.25 ounces of water-soluble ink.
- Promotes easy cleanup
- Applicable on different surfaces
- Produces a satiny finish
- Comes in six rich colors
- Great coverage
7. Speedball Opaque Fabric Screen Printing Ink, 32-Ounce
Featuring the Opaque fabric screen printing ink that is also offered by Speedball. This one comes in 10 different shimmering colors that can make your prints more stunning as it adds an iridescent effect.
You can use this on various materials such as paper and cardboard. It also works great on a variety of fabrics including rayon, linen, blends, polyester, cotton, and on any other synthetic fibers.
For fabric printing, you can attain permanent results if it has been heat set or cured properly. Aside from that, it also delivers a super soft-for-the-hand texture.
Even if you use this on either dark or light-colored fabrics, it still produces the same performance. That is because this ink is formulated to offer great opacity without having to sacrifice softness or workability.
It is safe to use this in your studio because all of its colors contain an AP seal. This feature makes it easier for you to clean up any spilled ink by just using water and soap.
- Adds iridescent and stunning effects
- Quality adherence to different materials
- Ideal for an array of fabrics
- Consistent softness and workability
- Safe to use
8. Jacquard Screen Printing Ink 2 Versatex Starter Sets, None 8
When it comes to premium quality inks, only a few match with Jacquard. What sets this apart from its competing brands is its capacity to produce water based screen printing inks that will adhere well to a variety of materials.
For instance, this screen printing ink starter set is heavily pigmented. With that being said, the product can provide a creamy and thick consistency making it ideal for printing on different textiles.
Apart from that, it is also suitable for different applications. For example, in dying batiks, stenciling, block printing, or silk screening. This can effectively print on lightly toned surfaces. However, the product might not hide well on dark backgrounds.
But since it is water soluble, this ink can be thinned through moistening. Much more, such property also makes the cleanup and removal easy. You will also love the fact that its results are permanent.
On top of versatility, the colors provide a beautiful finish. You can even combine the array of pigments. As such, the set can allow you to enjoy unlimited color options.
- Consistent workability
- Suitable for a wide variety of applications
- Soluble in water
- Permanent and quality results
- Thick and creamy composition
9. Speedball Acrylic Screen Printing Ink, 8-Ounce, White
Here is a professional quality product that is also offered by Speedball. This white acrylic printing ink will provide you the flexibility to create anything without worry.
Although the set is offered at an affordable price, it doesn’t sacrifice quality. This is trusted by artists and people that work with printers because it features consistent workability, great coverage, and vibrant colors.
This water based ink is ideal to use for cardboard, wood, and paper printing. Remember, it is suggested not to print on fabrics.
More so, it is safe for the classroom or studio because it carries an AP seal. That is why you can easily clean up the ink with water and soap.
Not only that, but the paint is non-flammable, non-toxic, and smell-free too. It does not contain any solvent. And to further prove its reliability, this product also conforms to the requirements and standards of ASTM D-4236.
As such, you will not regret if you opt for this choice given its outstanding working properties. You can also attain a worry-free printing experience due to its unrivaled time.
- Easy water and soap removal
- Ideal for different materials
- Non-toxic and non-flammable
- Smell and solvent-free
- Offers great coverage
10. Jacquard Versatex Printing Ink Set #1
The last option in this list is from Jacquard. This Versatex screen printing ink is made in the United States of America.
A set includes eight colors of semi-transparent printing inks that can produce excellent vibrancy on paper and fabrics. Each jar contains 2.25 fluid ounces of different colors including white, black, violet, blue, green, brown, magenta, and yellow.
Also, these inks are intermixable and can also be thinned by water. To achieve a permanent result, they should be heat set. This process will also enhance its washability.
Even if you use this on heavy artist papers, the ink will not bleed or wrinkle. To attain excellent coverage, print this on dark background. You can use this to block or stencil print and even in silkscreen printing.
- Applicable for a variety of techniques
- Soluble in water
- Comes in eight colors
- Does not bleed or wrinkle
- Excellent coverage on dark-colored backgrounds
How Long Does Water Based Ink Last?
If you are not using the ink that much, it can last for up to one year. But you can make a jar of water based ink last twice as much if you keep them stored and sealed in a dry place at ambient temperatures. However, this will only be the case if the ink hasn’t been used yet.
If you have applied them already on a surface or fabric the imprint can last from six months to five years. They are typically durable enough to last long. But it will still depend on the particular formula and whether the certain ink features an anti-brittle property, waterproofing, etc.
Is Water Based Ink Waterproof?
Yes, inks used for water based screen printing are usually waterproof. With that being said, needless for you to worry that the ink might come off with moisture.
They are specifically formulated with this property because inks are typically used for T-shirts or other similar garments. Dry ink without waterproofing ability will not last long considering that these fabrics will have to be washed sooner or later.
With that being said, it is indeed safer to use water-based inks because most of them if not all are waterproof. Even those low-quality ones can last long with constant exposure to water.
Difference Between Plastisol and Water-Based Inks
If you are curious about how water-based ink differs from plastisol, then read further as we will discuss their differences in terms of several factors.
Ease of Use
Water-based inks are a bit easier to spread because they are thinner than plastisol. Likewise, they are also easier to design with. But it does not mean that plastisol isn’t easy to use. You might find it harder to spread and paint because it is not as smooth as compared to water-based inks.
Plastisol is a thicker material that tends to leave a rougher texture. Some people find this undesirable. On the contrary, it is easy to feel the texture since it leaves a denser surface.
Whereas, water-based inks leave a texture that is soft for the hands. This is because they do not create something easy to feel on the surface. Also, because these type of inks might have adhered to the material or fabric so well that you can barely feel the ink.
Plastisol and water-based inks are both long-lasting. However, if you intend to apply them to fabrics, it is safe to use the latter because they tend to last longer. This is because water based inks can adhere completely to almost all materials, may it be on cardboard, cotton, or any other similar surface.
Plastisol, on the other hand, tends to brittle over time, especially when it is constantly exposed to high temperatures.
In terms of how long it takes to cure them, water-based inks take a longer drying time. In contrast, plastisol cures faster given the fact that they are made of PVC base which not require heat. You can just leave a PVC and it will dry automatically.
All products in this review can give amazing results, but they have unique features that set them apart from the rest. Just make sure that you pick the best water based screen printing ink that will get your designs right so that you don’t have to regret your purchase.