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To get the best results from a screen-printing press, you need a reliable ink that has consistent flow, low tack, and longevity. The type you buy will depend not only on what material you’re printing on, but also on how much time you want to spend prepping and curing the ink. You might even want to buy different kinds of ink depending on the project. Our picks below will help you find the best silkscreen ink available in a growing market.
Speedball Professional Acrylic Screen Printing Ink
If you need to print on paper, wood, or cardboard, consider Speedball’s acrylic ink formula. These water-based inks offer amazing coverage in addition to smooth application and a fast drying time. Choose from about 30 colors, including fluorescent and glow-in-the-dark ones! Each can also be mixed with ease to create more colors. The ink spreads smoothly, presents vibrant tones, and showcases even consistency for solid and clean coverage. It also stays wet for a good amount of time and makes for easy cleanup.
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Nazdar 5500 Series Flat Poster Screen Ink
If you’re making serious, professional-grade posters, consider using a solvent-based ink like Nazdar’s. Compared to water-based formulas, they are more durable and lightfast, and they’re also more resistant to external elements. Nazdar’s ink comes in brilliant, opaque colors that are best used on cardboard and paper stock. They dry in about 30 minutes to a velvety matte finish that looks sophisticated and clean. You can use it straight from the can or tweak the formula with Nazdar’s retarder, transparent base, or extender base. The ink comes in 2.2-pound or gallon cans—ideal for large-scale work or high-volume poster makers.
Speedball Fabric Screen Printing Ink Starter Set
Beginners might consider purchasing this user-friendly set of inks from Speedball, which is ideal for printing on fabrics, particularly common light fibers like cotton, polyester, linen, and rayon. You get six basic colors in four-ounce jars—black, red, blue, white, green, and yellow—and each can be mixed with ease. Although less viscous than Jacquard’s product, these inks offer amazing coverage in addition to smooth application and a fast drying time. Once the ink is heat-set, it won’t bleed, peel, or flake off the base fabric even after it’s been washed. Cleanup is also a breeze with this water-based ink.
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Jacquard Screen Printing Inks
Jacquard’s product is a professional-grade and archival-quality water-based ink that will look stunning whether you are printing on fabrics or paper. It’s sold in a set of six or as individual jars. The latter option is nice if you need to build a specific palette, and while the cost can start to add up, the top quality is immediately apparent. These buttery, pigment-rich inks have a longer open time than lesser products, allowing you to be more precise and careful with your process. They can take a while to get used to, as they are quite thick, so you might try experimenting with adding water or an extender to achieve your ideal viscosity. But they blend beautifully, dry with a slight sheen, and will help you produce consistent batches. Used on fabric, the results are safe to wash many times over once properly heat set and air cured for at least 72 hours.
Ecotex Water-Based Standard Ink Kit
These bright and vivid inks from Ecotex can either be used alone or as discharge inks, with the addition of the brand’s discharge powder. Due to its thin formula, you can use it on high mesh counts to produce very fine image detail. You can achieve soft-hand printing or excellent coverage without a bulky finish. Easy to mix and compatible with natural fibers, ideally 100 percent cotton, this ink must be cured at 320 ˚F. Choose from 16 colors, available in 16-ounce containers.