Water-Base vs. Plastisol Printing at B-Unlimited

Water-Base vs. Plastisol Printing at B-Unlimited

Origins - A Journey in Water-Based Screen Printing Reading Water-Base vs. Plastisol Printing at B-Unlimited 3 minutes Next Our Guide to Thriving as T-Shirt Chair


Many people don’t know, but there is more than one type of screen printing method! If you’re a details person, you should totally read below about why we try to use discharge water-base over plastisol when we print your shirts. If you’re more of a visual person scroll down to watch a video we put together showing how printing with water-base ink can be the best decision for you and your organization.

What is plastisol?

If you’ve ever worn a printed T-shirt when you’re running or working out and the big print on your shirt sticks to you like a back-sweat magnet, chances are, that is a shirt printed with plastisol ink.

The way plastisol ink is printed, it is laid down on the top of the garment almost like icing on a cake. You can definitely feel that it’s there and sometimes so much so that it feels similar to that of sand paper because it’s such a thick ink. After many washes this type of print can crack and even end up peeling off of the shirt.

A positive trait of plastisol ink though, is it can print on anything & can give you more accurate color results. At B-Unlimited we print with plastisol when absolutely necessary. An example of this would be if a company contacted us to print a logo on their shirt and it was important that colors were a match for their branding!

What is discharge water-base?

This type of printing really depends on the material of the garment! It prints really bright and clean on 100% cotton garments. It can give fun and faded looks on tri blends and 50/50 garments, but unfortunately won’t print on polyester garments.

With discharge printing the ink is printed into the fabric and actually replaces the pigment in the fabric of the garment with the pigment of the ink, thus actually becoming a part of the shirt for as long as the life of the shirt. It’s actually pretty magical.

As this ink is laid into the shirt and cured through the dryer you won’t even feel that there’s a print on this garment. It’s just as soft as the original product the ink goes on and gets better with every wash.

So what does that mean for you?

We’ve got a short video at the bottom of our blog post here giving you an illustration on the breathability difference between plastisol and discharge water-base.

The plastisol holds in all water and moisture, but the water-based discharge print allows the water to flow through very easily. An example would to be to imagine yourself walking across campus on a hot day and feeling shirt sticking to you, and not having breathability – this would be a plastisol printed t-shirt.

At B-Unlimited we print with lots of different kinds of ink. But we specialize in soft, environmentally friendly water-based discharge ink. Ask your Account Manager for your next design to be printed with the softest ink we have and see the difference for yourself.

Water-Base vs Plastisol Breathability & Water Test from B-Unlimited on Vimeo.