If you’ve just recently switched from using plastisol inks to using water-based inks for printing, chances are you’ve just realised how easy and beneficial it actually is to go water-based.
Many printers used to avoid using water-based screen printing inks because back then, it had several pain points: special screens had to be used, it dried way too fast, extra steps had to be taken to clean it, it was thin and not opaque, and was difficult to control. Thanks to decades of development however, water-based inks have overcome all these problems and have even proven to be the better choice especially considering how eco-friendly, safe to use and better for the environment they are.
Using water-based inks for printing is no longer as complex as it was before, in fact it’s become a preferred choice for many screen printers and their customers. Using water-based screen printing inks however, can still require some specific equipment, especially if you’re using these inks for a large scale printing business.
The most basic tools you’ll need for handling water-based inks are plastic or metal cups, buckets, stirring sticks and spatulas. You can buy these at any craft store and they are primarily for stirring, mixing and moving inks for printing. Make sure to use metal or plastic versions of these items and not wood, as wood can leave splinters in your ink that may end up on your print. You should also make sure your cups aren’t wax-lined, otherwise the wax may shed off, mix with your ink and cause your screens to clog.
Measuring Your Ink
When measuring inks you have two choices: you can either do so by hand, use an automated dispensing system. Either way, you’ll need a high quality digital scale to measure inks accurately.
The scale you need will depend on the amount of ink you use at a time; the larger the amount you need, the larger the scale range should be. For some textile printers, an automated precision ink dispensing system is a must to minimise the margin of error, and these come with their own scales. Measuring and mixing inks by hand is sufficient for most printers but it will take some practice and great accuracy to minimise mess and human error.
Mixing Your Ink
Once your ink is measured, you’ll need a good mixer. For most printers manually mixing with a spatula or a stirring stick is enough, but for large quantities of ink you will need some type of motorised mixer. An old mix master commonly used for cooking can be good.
So those are some of your most common equipment and tools for handling, measuring and mixing water-based inks. With these tools in your screen printing arsenal, you can minimise wasted ink and mistakes, and always have the right colours and consistency of ink that you require.
For further information about screens, clamps and squeegees checkout our Blog about The Essentials You’ll Need in Your Screen Printing Kit.