Screen printing onto fabric tends to get a little complicated as soon as you want to print onto dark coloured fabrics. Standard screen printing inks are translucent and will therefore show some of the base colour through when printed. When printing onto white or pale coloured fabrics this is not a problem. Most standard screen printing inks will disappear into dark backgrounds and you’ll need to use an opaque ink in order for it to show up. Opaque Inks are more highly pigmented and thicker than standard inks. The exception to this rule is white ink. White screen printing ink tends to be a little thicker and more highly pigmented than other standard inks. In order to help you decide which ink you need, we’ve printed onto black fabric using three different white pre-mixed inks:
All of these inks are water-based and solvent free.
Even though this is a standard fabric screen printing ink, it shows up very well on black fabric whilst leaving the handle soft. If you look closely you can see that the hand is not fully white – some of the black from the fabric is showing through to create a very pale grey.
Again, this standard fabric screen printing ink shows up very well on black fabric whilst leaving the handle soft. Once again, if you look closely you can see that the hand is not fully white – some of the black from the fabric is showing through to create a very pale grey.
This is an opaque ink and is a lot thicker than standard screen printing inks. The fabric handle is a little stiffer when printed and the thick ink means that a more open mesh like a 32T or a 43T is usually required. Opaque inks also tend to dry a little faster so be aware of this when printing detailed designs and wash your screens quickly after using. The thickness of this ink, however, allows for excellent coverage and a much brighter white end result.
The screen hand prints above are, in order, Speedball, Permaset standard and Permaset Supercover. All three of these inks print well on black fabric. Up close, however, the Supercover is the only ink that gives a truly white result. Hopefully these samples will help you to decide which white ink you need, depending on the coverage desired and the detail of your design. Revisit our blog next week for more information on the difference between standard and opaque inks when printing with colours!