(Article written by Rob Coleman, Nazdar SourceOne. Full Article here.)
Prior to the 1960s, water- and solvent-based inks were the first choice – the only choice, really – for apparel printers. In those days, the garment decoration business was certainly not what it is today in terms of sheer numbers. However, screen printers that did image T-shirts then struggled with a number of production issues: ink transparency, drying in the screen, emissions, stencil breakdown, curing, washfastness, storage, and more.
Then, in 1959, a gentleman named Don Pettry who worked for Flexible Products Company developed plastisol inks, changing garment printing forever. Plastisols used a PVC (polyvinyl chloride) resin and plasticizer to produce what is, in essence, liquid plastic. The inks were easy to cure, didn’t dry in the screen or attack the stencils, presented no shelf-life considerations, produced a durable ink film, and had a good level of opacity to boot. They also enabled small entrepreneurs to get into the business by greatly reducing the cost of drying equipment. The forced-air units with long tunnels required for water-based inks weren’t necessary; small electric dryers could cure this ink just fine. The development of plastisol ink was truly a game changer for our industry and a key factor in the rapid growth of printed apparel in the ‘70s and ‘80s.
Plastisol has been the king for a long time, but its fortunes have been reversing in recent years. Why is the industry moving back toward water-based inks? In my view, the two key reasons are brand requirements and fashion trends.
Click here or download the document below to read the full article from Rob Coleman - Regional Sales Manager, Nazdar SourceOne!