June '19

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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4 8 P R I N T W E A R J U N E 2 0 1 9 start toying with the idea. Also, if a shop needs assistance in their approach to working with the inks, many manufacturers offer programs dedicated to helping decorators learn their way around water-based inks, Parry notes. Often, she points out, screen print- ers working in tandem with an ink manufacturer/supplier offer open house events where fellow printers can learn the technique and confer with experienced printers in the craft. If a screen printer is entirely new to water-based inks, Marcotte urges them to start simple. "I always suggest just starting with white and black inks on simple one-color jobs," he states. "This allows the printer to focus on understanding the fundamentals of water-based inks and how they react when printing on a small scale." Once a shop has a solid understanding of how the inks will work on press, it's more likely they'll have the confidence to tackle those multicolor jobs, Marcotte says. When it comes to primary differences and pricing consider- ations, sources agree that the actual material cost of water-based inks will be relatively on par with plastisol inks, so decorators should consider more than just the price tag on the bucket when they start figuring out how much their cost-per-impression will be, and how much to charge customers. Two of the biggest differences shops will notice are the workflow and time elements. "Where water-based and plastisol (inks) differ is when the press stops for breaks, lunch, or closing," Parry describes. "With plas- tisol, you can stop the press and return to pick up where you left off at any time. With water-based, you would have to wipe down the image area with water to avoid clogging and mist the ink with water before taking lunch or a break." Huggins also suggests that manual and automatic screen print- ing can change the requirements of working with water-based inks. "You may need to make adjustments to your regular habits. These can increase the amount of time it takes per print," says Huggins. "This will be situational based on your shop and your equipment. The biggest example may be needing to flash more based on the inks being used. That will impact your production time on an auto far more than it will on a manual press." Outside of production costs, Basset points out that sheer volume can also be a consideration when decorators are contemplating plastisol or water-based ink for a job. "From the economic side, plastisol may cost less than water-based inks, but the amount of plastisol that you need in total is higher," she contends, vouching that over time, water-based inks may continue to level off in pric- ing due to the demand by both shops and their customers. WHERE IT'S HEADED The consensus is that the demand for water-based inks will continue to grow in the coming years, primarily due to the sustainability com- ponent. "The rising demand for environment-friendly screen-print- ing inks is expected to create lucrative growth opportunities for the industry players in the screen-printing inks market across the globe," Parry suggests. In a recent report by research firm Allied Market Research ( market), the trends point to emerging economies like China and India also seeking out environmentally-friendly inks which means that while customers up the road might just be learning about these inks, eco-conscious shoppers from all around the globe are also get- ting onboard. Marcotte also points to the evolution in digital printing technol- ogy as a driver of water-based inks in the coming years. "With the emergence of the digital print- For more tips on printing water-based inks, check out this article by Eric Solomon: WATER-BASED INKS continued on page 49, after THE HOT GRAPHICS REPORT WATER BASED POLY WHITE INK DO NOT LET YOUR DESIGN BLEED THROUGH

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