June '19

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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4 6 P R I N T W E A R J U N E 2 0 1 9 W ater-based inks are generally something every screen printing shop is familiar with, even if it's not their go-to choice for jobs. Moreover, while they aren't brand new to the market, modern advances in water-based options have opened the door for busi- nesses who want to offer a wider variety of finished goods and printing effects. The advances in these inks have also raised more interest on the customer side, for a variety of reasons that span from the apparel types water-based inks work best with to broader global is- sues these ink types are attempting to address. A SHIFT IN DEMAND Even with a heightened buzz about water-based inks in today's decorated apparel industry, it's worth not- ing that they aren't brand new, and the evolution has taken time to reach the point where it is now. "Since its introduction many decades ago, water-based inks have always had a share of the market," contests Colin Huggins, Ryonet. "Water-based inks at the time were based on ro- tary printing needs and not designed for the open screens of T-shirt printing." Since those early days, Huggins explains, water-based inks have gone from being an ink mainly only used by large-scale contract printers to a common choice for boutique printers and smaller op- erations, thanks to advances in ink technology. Manufacturers and suppliers vouch that in recent years, they've seen an increase in requests for water-based inks for a host of reasons. Helen Parry, MagnaColours, says that the UK-based ink company sees a surge for the product, largely for special effects printing. "As innovators, we are being asked to develop more and more value-added special effect inks such as tex- tured, two-tone effects, and even effects like color- changing with water," Parry explains, adding that newer performance fabrics have also pushed ink mak- ers to improve the durability of the inks to match the temperature needs of said garments. Matthew Marcotte, T&J Printing Supply says he's seen the increase for inks that can offer special effects, but also a request for a specific hand feel on the final print. "One of the biggest shifts is customers seeking an eco-friendly ink option that leaves less of a 'hand' on printed garments," he adds. "I have especially seen a spike in shops getting into discharge printing as under- bases and softer white prints." The eco-friendly component which Marcotte points to also tends to be what most parties cite as the reason why more clients are asking their local screen printer for a water- based option. Carla Basset, aeoon Technologies, suggests that the trend towards water-based inks growing is driven by the "high de- mand of many enterprises, and this number is still growing, to fo- cus on sustainability." These companies span the gamut from home goods to promotional items, as well as apparel and are from both retail and wholesale channels. Basset also suggests that a change in overall consumer trends to practices like 'upcycling' and sustainably- made goods has influenced how they make their buying decisions. It's in the Ink A FRESH LOOK AT WATER-BASED INKS M I K E C L A R K Above: Thanks to the availability of informa- tion through supplier workshops and online forums, the widespread knowledge of water- based inks has grown both on the decorator and customer sides. (Image courtesy Mag- naColours) Opposite: Once they've dialed in the process with sim- pler designs, shops can graduate to eye-catch- ing color effects and combinations with wa- ter-based inks. (Image courtesy MagnaColours)

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