Advantages & Disadvantages of Water Based Inks

08 September, 2020

Water-based inks are those that utilize water as the main solvent. But it is important to know that water-based inks also use “co-solvents”, which may be petroleum-based solvents. There are various reasons why co-solvents are used, but the most significant reason is to decrease the time and heat needed to cure the ink film on the fabric.


  1. Where “soft hand” is desirable
    • A soft hand is a condition where the ink film cannot be easily felt with the hand when pressed across the surface of the fabric.
  2. High-speed roll-to-roll yardage
  3. Where ink penetration is required
    • Such as towel printing


  1. More difficult to cure.
    • With water-based ink, the curing temperature must be reached then hold until all solvent is evaporated.
  2. “Pot life” is decreased when “catalyst” is added in the water-based ink formulation.
    • The catalyst will assist the heat in curing of the ink.
    • However, catalyzed water-based ink pot life is between 4 and 12 hours.
  3. “Drying in” of ink in the screen.
    • Printers must always be cautious of how long a screen sits between prints since water is the main solvent.
  4. Emulsion manufacturers make “water-resistant” emulsions that will be used in water-based printing or else it will destroy the stencil by melting.

What Can Maha Offer?

Water can be used to clean the screens, squeegees, and tools. However, water-based ink is not just water – it contains pigments, binders, thickeners, and co-solvent in the ink residue, thus wastewater cannot be discharged in the sewer.

In addition, water-based ink that has been catalyzed cannot be returned to its container for re-use; it should be disposed of as hazardous waste.

Want to find out more about water-based inks and how it can be better utilised? Contact us today at today to talk to our professionals or head on over to our Surface Technology page to find out more!

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