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Biographie Advantages Of Screen Printing With Water-Based Inks

Although plastisol inks have come a long way in the sense that the vast majority are phthalate-free nowadays, they are still not the most eco-friendly option. Plastisol ink is made by mixing PVC resin and plasticizer together. We won't go too much into the chemistry here, but as you're probably aware, anything plastic-based isn't great for the environment. Water-based inks are much more eco-friendly because they are completely PVC free and, hence the name, water-based; i.e., they have a solvent base consisting of water. They're about as environmentally-responsible as you can get in this business.

If you want to up the environmentally-conscious-ante even more, check out our Eco-Friendly Shirts page for info. There, you'll discover options for finding the right eco-friendly shirt for your project.


This is just industry jargon for the feel of the print. It means that the print feels soft against your hand. In fact, once a shirt printed with our water-based ink is washed, you can't feel the print on the shirt. The next time you order shirts and want a soft print, use this term instead of feeling like you're at the mechanic trying to replicate the noise your car is making.


Due to the fact that water-based inks dye the fabric instead of sitting on top of the fabric, as is the case with plastisol, we can hold much finer details. In addition to finer detail, the edges of prints are much sharper as well. If you're like us and salivate over small details in a t-shirt print, water-based inks are definitely up your alley. If you're in the camp of ‘Nah, that's weird,' you can at least rest assured that we really care about the details of the printed shirts that we put out.


Water-based prints are insurmountably more durable than plastisol prints. Chances are, you have an old shirt laying around that looks cracked and faded from washing it so many times. That, unfortunately, is somewhat just the nature of the beast when it comes to plastisol inks. Of course, proper printing, curing, etc. from any professional printer and proper washing care on your end can help combat that. But, the longevity of plastisol inks will never compare to that of water-based inks. Because these inks dye the fabric, the print actually becomes part of the shirt. That means as long as the shirt holds up, so will the print.


You read that right. We offer a FREE upgrade to water-based ink on any order you place. Keep in mind, these inks can be finicky on certain fabrics. We'll let you know if the garment you want doesn't play well with water-based inks.

Along with getting a free upgrade, printing with water-based inks can sometimes save you from paying for another color. If you've ordered shirts in the past, you may know that an underbase is required when printing plastisol on dark garments. If you're unsure about what an underbase is and why it's necessary, you can read up on it here. In short, if you want dark shirts and you go with water-based inks, you'll be able to save on the extra screen required for a plastisol underbase.

All About Printer Ink: Everything You Need To Know

Ink. We need it, we love it. But you've got questions about printer ink. We've got answers all about ink. Here's everything you need to know about printer ink, (but were afraid to ask)!

A (Very) Brief History Of Ink
Ink was created so man could leave a record of his thoughts and ideas. Ink has come a long way from the sooty drawings found on cave walls. Indians were known to use ink in 4th century BC made from burnt bones, pitch, and tar. There is also evidence of ink being used by ancient Chinese civilizations dating back to 256 BC. These early Chinese inks were made from fish glue.

Today, carbon black is still used in the production of many black inks. But the process is far from simple, and it's getting more complicated all the time. Ink and toner cartridges are designed for each specific printer model. HP claims it spends $1 billion every year on researching and developing ink and toner.

The Difference Between Water And Oil Based Polyurethane

How Many Types of Finish Are Out There?

Today, we can roughly divide the floor finishing products into three major groups. First, there are the surface finishes which form a protective film on top of the wood– shellac, varnish, lacquer. The second group consists of penetrating oils and sealers represented by the likes of linseed and tung oils. Third are the wax finishes which are popular among those who prefer more natural solutions with low toxicity.

What Is Polyurethane?
Now at some point, you may have heard the term 'polyurethane finish' … Wait, what? I thought there were only three types?

Polyurethane isn't really a type of finish but rather an ingredient which, after sufficient drying, forms a plastic resin on the surface of the wood. Thanks to their superior qualities, polyurethane based lacquers and varnishes have become the most popular type of finish today. Shellac, for example, being a natural product, is completely overshadowed and is now used mostly in conjunction with wax by those who prefer natural alternatives.

There are two major types of polyurethane finish. Oil and water based. What are cons and pros of each and in what scenario you should choose one over the other?

Oil-Based Polyurethane


Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder they say. It's all subjective. Oil based poly offers more colour depth and shine. However, over time, oil poly tends to darken, thus becoming yellow. Some people like that and others don't. This particular feature can make oil based polyurethane unsuitable for certain stain types. If for example, you want a grey stained surface, an oil polyurethane finish will turn yellow with age and ruin the colour.


Oil-based polyurethane is more durable than his water-based alternative since it contains a significant amount of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Those chemicals make the finish tougher and allow it to last longer. It will need fewer re-applications over the years compared to the water-based version and also offer slightly better resistance to scratches, heat and moisture.


Oil-based polyurethane is cheaper than water-based by a good margin. It will also provide a longer lasting protection which will cut the costs even more.

Here is another detail. It takes more coats of water based poly to reach the same level of toughness compared to the solvent based. If for example, you apply 3 solvent coats, you'll need 4 or 5 water based to get the same level of protection. Since you will need more waterborne finish to cover the same surface this will be naturally reflected in the costs.


Most floor finishing products contain a certain amount of Volatile Organic Compounds. Water-based poly has low VOC content, while oil, also known as solvent based poly has particularly high concentration of those. The quote below is taken from solvent based poly data sheet:

Repeated and prolonged exposure to solvents may lead to permanent brain and nervous system damage. Eye watering, headaches, nausea, dizziness and loss of coordination are signs that solvent levels are too high. Intentional misuse by deliberately concentrating and inhaling the contents may be harmful or fatal.

It sounds scary, right? Yes, those chemicals could be dangerous but the good news is the majority of them are released as fumes during installation and a few weeks after. Oil based polyurethane has a very long curing time. After 48 hours you can walk upon the floor normally with shoes, after 4 days you can move furniture but in order to be safe from the fumes you need around a month.

Now here is the bad part. VOC off-gassing can continue long after the finish has dried. How long depends on the type and concentration of the finish but there are registered cases of it lasting for months or even years. Mind, those off-gasses are supposed to be extremely weak and not having any health impact. However, what will be the effect if you are exposed to this for months and even years? It's really hard to say and we're no doctors to give an opinion on this. Whatever the truth, it is undeniable fact that polyurethane products are allowed by the authorities if they follow certain regulations.

Liquid water is a dynamic polydisperse branched polymer

In contrast to ice, in which each water makes strong hydrogen bonds (SHBs) to four neighbors, we show that upon melting the number of SHBs drops quickly to two in liquid water. These two SHBs couple into chains containing ∼150 waters resembling a branched polymer. The lifetime of each SHB at 298 K is 90.3 fs (11 OH vibrational periods), so the polymer branches evolve dynamically. This dynamics-branched polymer paradigm may explain long-standing puzzles of water, such as the critical point at 227 K in supercooled water (which may correspond to a glass transition caused by an increase in the SHB lifetime). It may explain the observed angular correlations in water that persist for 20 nm.


We developed the RexPoN force field for water based entirely on quantum mechanics. It predicts the properties of water extremely accurately, with Tmelt = 273.3 K (273.15 K) and properties at 298 K: ΔHvap = 10.36 kcal/mol (10.52), density = 0.9965 g/cm3 (0.9965), entropy = 68.4 J/mol/K (69.9), and dielectric constant = 76.1 (78.4), where experimental values are in parentheses. Upon heating from 0.0 K (ice) to 273.0 K (still ice), the average number of strong hydrogen bonds (SHBs, rOO ≤ 2.93 Å) decreases from 4.0 to 3.3, but upon melting at 273.5 K, the number of SHBs drops suddenly to 2.3, decreasing slowly to 2.1 at 298 K and 1.6 at 400 K. The lifetime of the SHBs is 90.3 fs at 298 K, increasing monotonically for lower temperature. These SHBs connect to form multibranched polymer chains (151 H2O per chain at 298 K), where branch points have 3 SHBs and termination points have 1 SHB. This dynamic fluctuating branched polymer view of water provides a dramatically modified paradigm for understanding the properties of water. It may explain the 20-nm angular correlation lengths at 298 K and the critical point at 227 K in supercooled water. Indeed, the 15% jump in the SHB lifetime at 227 K suggests that the supercooled critical point may correspond to a phase transition temperature of the dynamic polymer structure. This paradigm for water could have a significant impact on the properties for protein, DNA, and other materials in aqueous media.

What are Eco-Friendly Inks?
As we all become more eco-conscious, selecting paper that's made with the earth in mind is a more important consideration than ever. Mohawk Renewal's line made with hemp, straw and recycled cotton fibers is a logical choice when it comes to paper. But did you know that you can do more with your materials to tell your story and be a steward to our planet? Say hello to eco-friendly inks.

Worldwide, 9 billion pounds of printing inks are used every year. While there are alternatives to the approximately 1.8 billion pounds of petroleum-based pigment contained in all that ink, each comes with its own challenges — especially when it comes to satisfying customers' print needs on press. Here's what you need to know about alternative eco-inks.

Vegetable-based inks, which forego petroleum oil in favor of more sustainable sources like soy, linseed, tung, cottonseed, and china wood oils, have been around for decades. In fact, they were invented in response to an oil crisis in the early 1970's—suddenly, petroleum was in short supply, and ink manufacturers had to get creative.

While vegetable inks, including the most popular variety, soy ink, avoid the environmental pitfalls of using the earth's limited supply of petroleum as an ingredient, they require special knowledge and treatment on press. For example, they often take longer to dry than traditional inks, and they can translate into slightly different shades than their conventional counterparts.

However, the benefits are enormous. Like, when the Los Angeles Times switched to soy ink from the petroleum variety they were using, they won an air quality award for reducing their VOC emissions by 200 tons per year.

It's important to note that while vegetable inks are a step in the right direction, some do still contain petroleum, depending on their formulation. Some may also contain heavy metals. You can ask your printer to help source vegetable-only inks and inks without heavy metals, if that's what you prefer. 
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