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Getting it Right with White

(August 2008) posted on Wed Aug 20, 2008

Garment screen printers seem to be fixated on white plastisol inks. Find out why.

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By Mike Ukena

The discussion of white ink always ranks among the most passionate conversations in which garment screen printers engage. Maybe it’s because no one is ever completely happy with the white inks they use. Or maybe misunderstandings about the proper uses of the various white inks are to blame. Add to those possibilities the notions that few garment printers base their ink decisions on logic and that the ink companies themselves are not always as clear as they could be on the proper use of their white inks. Perhaps printers’ obsession with white inks is rooted in their willingness to try new white inks more than any other new products—and, as a result, spend a disproportionately large amount of their ink budgets on white ink.

I talk about white inks to people almost every day. The one thing that I have learned is we inevitably reach a stopping point in the conversation because two printers can never totally agree on the subject. I told several people in the industry that I was going to write an article about white plastisol. They all looked at me like I was crazy. The overwhelming sentiment was that there was no way to make everyone happy with an article on the subject. I actually knew that before I offered to write this article, and I accept that not everyone will be happy. In fact, before I even start, I estimate that 25% of you will think this is a great article, 50% will find it informative, and the other 25% will decide that I don’t know anything about white ink!

One thing I know for sure is that white inks come in a dizzying array of formulations. Ink companies constantly try to hit on a formulation that will make the greatest number of printers happy—that is, until the competition comes out with its newest ink and steals away market share. Additionally, printers frequently misuse white ink—a low-bleed on a cotton fabric, for example. Screen printers can avoid this issue by familiarizing themselves with the variety of white inks for garments.


Types of white plastisol


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