How to Screen Print on Different Kinds of Fabrics

by Wendy Croxford

in Permaset Blog

12 Jan 2017  | 0 Comments

With today’s techniques and modern screen printing inks, it’s possible to achieve a great result no matter what fabric you choose. Here are our tricks for fabric paint screen printing on various textiles using our water based inks.

Cotton fabrics

Natural fabrics are the ultimate choice for screen printing, as they tend to absorb the ink more readily than man-made fabrics do. Cotton and cotton blends are the most popular choice for most printers and customers as they are soft and permeable, and organic cotton can be even softer again. As with any fabric, you’ll need to cure the print. Make sure you give it plenty of time to thoroughly air dry before setting it with a drying tunnel, heat press or flash dry unit. Cottons can also be tumble dried and even baked at low heat to cure.


Screen printing onto cotton tea towels using Permaset fabric paint/ink.

Silk fabrics

Silk provides a beautiful flat surface for a screen print, and the natural fibre absorbs ink evenly and effectively. One thing to remember is that the thinner the fabric, the less ink will be absorbed, so expect a subtler effect than on a thicker cotton or wool base. Keep in mind too that silk can tend to move around or slightly shrink throughout the printing process, so be sure to prewash the fabric and use table adhesive to keep the delicate fabric firmly in place.


Wool fabrics

Wool and wool blends offer an absorbent surface for screen printing, and as with cotton the higher the wool count the better. Generally the thicker the fabric, the more silk screen fabric ink will be absorbed into the fibres and the more vibrant the print will remain over time. If the fabric is chunkier or textured, keep this in mind for detailed prints. You may find you get a crisper result with a less complex design for some wool products.


Acrylic and polyester fabrics

Man-made fabrics tend to be less porous and permeable than natural fibres, so one problem can be getting the screen print ink to stick to them as well as with cotton. Fortunately there are a number of simple solutions. We have a number of products including Permaset synthetic fixer which will dramatically increase the adhesive qualities of the ink on polyester and acrylic blends for a durable result.


Jersey fabrics

Jersey is typically a cotton blend and this stretchy fabric tends to print quite well. Water based fabric paint will provide a superior result over plastisol inks, which tend to sit on top of the fabric and split when the fabric expands and contracts. Water based inks soak into the fabric for a softer and superior result. Again, there’s an increased chance of jersey moving in between prints, so be sure to use a quality adhesive while making your prints.
You can view all Permaset water based inks and accessories in our online shop. If you’re searching for the right water based fabric paint for screen printing, call Permaset on +61 (2) 9939 7977 or contact us. We’re always here to help you find the perfect water based inks for your project.

Permaprint does not contain ozone depleting chemicals such as CFCS or HCFCS. It is also formulated free of aromatic hydrocarbons. Permaprint premium is free of volatile organic solvent and does not contain PVC resin or Phthalate plasticiser