5 Common Mistakes when Printing with Plastisol Ink

Posted by Ellie Batchiyska on

Plastisol ink is one of the most common types of ink that screen printers use. Characterized by its vibrant colors and thicker consistency, plastisol ink tends to be quite forgiving, even for beginners. However, there are some common mistakes that people make when using plastisol ink that can detract from the overall appearance of the finished product. To help you master plastisol ink screen printing, check out the following common mistakes so you know what pitfalls to avoid.


1. Not Stirring Plastisol Ink

You should never use plastisol ink right off the shelf. Before use each time, make sure you thoroughly stir the ink to avoid any clumps or mushy consistency in your prints. Plastisol ink does tend to thicken while on the shelf, and the various components may even start to separate depending on how long the ink went unused. So, you’ll want to give it a good stir each time you use it so you have an even consistency. 

This typically isn’t just a quick stir, either. Depending on the exact shade of plastisol ink you’re using, you may want to use a drill to stir the ink for a few minutes before it’s ready. 


2. Not Reading the Instructions

Even if you’re a seasoned screen printer, you should consult the instructions for each brand of plastisol ink you use. Ink manufacturers may have different handling directions or instructions for their exact formulation of plastisol ink, which may differ from other brands you’ve used before. So, if you’re purchasing a new brand of plastisol ink, make sure you check the directions first to avoid making any costly mistakes. 


3. Not Using a Reducer

You might think that using an ink reducer will detract from the pigmentation of your plastisol ink, but this is not the case. Again, plastisol ink can get pretty thick when it’s been sitting on the shelf for a while. So, if stirring didn’t do the trick to give it a smooth, even consistency, you may need to add some reducer to it. 

Follow the instructions on the exact brand of reducer you’re using to ensure you’re thinning out the ink while still allowing it to provide good coverage. When used correctly, the reducer will help with the viscosity of the ink and make it easier to work with, but the opacity and pigmentation should remain the same for bold, vibrant prints. 


4. Not Cleaning Your Screens

If you plan on using the screen to make multiple prints, make sure you are properly cleaning the screens after use to avoid plastisol ink build-up on the screen. Thick, plastisol ink can accumulate on the screen over time, leading to poor print quality, smudging, or difficulty in achieving fine-line details. So, make sure you are thoroughly cleaning screens between use to prevent any of these printing mishaps from occurring.  When you clean your screens, make sure to use a screen opener for plastisol inks specifically for optimal results.


5. Keeping Your Shop Too Cold

In general, plastisol inks tend to work better when your shop is warm, as the platens in the ink heat up and give it a smoother consistency. As a result, you may not have to stir the inks as much and you can use them faster when they come off the shelf. 

Of course, there is a balance to creating an enjoyable work environment without overheating yourself. But, you’ll want to avoid a printing area that is blasting A/C all day if you want your plastisol inks to be easier to work with.

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