The Ultimate Guide to Water-Based Printing Videos

Mark Gervais, an experienced printer specializing in water-based and PVC-free inks, has shared a comprehensive guide to successful printing with these ink types. This series of videos, serves as a full tutorial on water-based screen printing inks, detailing how to use and screen print with them. If you’re interested in mastering screen printing with water-based inks, these six videos are essential viewing. They cover everything from color separation to various departments in your screen printing shop.

Mark Gervais is renowned for his clear and thorough explanations, providing valuable insights on effective techniques for printing with water-based inks.

While the sound quality might not be perfect (these videos are from 2013, after all), the information they contain is invaluable and free. By following his advice, you can master water-based screen printing quickly, avoiding many common mistakes and saving a significant amount of time. Special thanks to Mark Gervais for taking the time to enlighten screen printers on crucial yet often overlooked aspects. It’s surprising that these informative videos have received so few views, given the valuable insights they offer.

These videos cover everything you need to know about water-based ink:

  1. Separations and Film Output
  2. Screen Making
  3. Ink Preparation
  4. And Additives
  5. Press Set-up for Screenprinting
  6. Proper Curing Techniques

Testing & Color Separation for Water-Based Inks

In this Video, Mark emphasizes the importance of using water-based, PVC-free alternatives and critiques core-shell plasticizer technologies.

They stress the significance of thorough testing, meticulous documentation, and reproducibility of results. The speaker highlights key points like separations, film output, ink differences, press setup, and ink curing, sharing insights from years of experience.

Part 1 of 6 - Waterbased PVC-Free Alternatives - Separations/Film Output

Video Key Points

  • Water-based, PVC-free alternatives: Emphasized as preferable over core shell plasticizer technologies.
  • Critique of core shell plasticizer technologies: Described as a failed technology.
  • Importance of thorough testing: Highlighted as crucial, with an emphasis on accurate documentation and recording of variables.
  • Reproducibility of results: Stressed as essential for verifying test outcomes.
  • Separation and film output: Basic yet critical steps in the process.
  • Differences in ink types: Focus on understanding RFU inks, BAS, and blending techniques.
  • Press setup and ink curing: Specific methods and challenges discussed.

Screen Making for Water Based Inks

The Video discusses the importance of screen printing techniques and the role of precise measurements in achieving high-quality results.

It emphasizes the significance of maintaining proper screen tension, water content in emulsion, and exposure levels. The speaker highlights that successful screen printing, especially with water-based inks, requires meticulous attention to detail, proper drying conditions, and consistent exposure calibration. They also mention the use of specific emulsions and hardeners to ensure durability and efficiency in the printing process. Throughout the text, the importance of technical support and proper equipment is stressed, as these factors contribute to the overall success of screen printing operations.

Part 2 of 6 - Waterbased PVC-Free Alternatives - Screen Making

Video Key Points

  • Importance of precise measurements in screen printing
  • Maintaining proper screen tension and water content in emulsion
  • Significance of exposure levels and drying conditions
  • Use of specific emulsions and hardeners for durability and efficiency
  • Need for technical support and proper equipment

Water-Based Ink Preparation

Video 3A

Mark is discussing their experiences and opinions on various ink systems used in printing, specifically focusing on water-based inks.

They emphasize the distinction between traditional transparent water-based inks, used on light garments, and the newer high solids acrylic (HSA) inks, which offer greater opacity. Mark prefers to mix and customize inks rather than using ready-made solutions, highlighting the control and customization this approach provides. They explain the science behind achieving the desired opacity and color, noting that sometimes multiple layers are necessary. The speaker advocates for a collaborative discussion among printers, excluding manufacturers and dealers, to share knowledge and improve practices.

Part 3 of 6 - Waterbased PVC-Free Alternatives - Inks/Ink Prep

Video Key Points

  • Discussion of experiences with major printing companies and their ink technologies.
  • Preference for a collaborative session among printers, excluding manufacturers and dealers.
  • Distinction between traditional transparent water-based inks and newer high solids acrylic (HSA) inks.
  • Emphasis on mixing and customizing inks for greater control and customization.
  • Explanation of achieving opacity and color through multiple layers and the use of fillers.
  • Highlighting the science behind water-based inks compared to plastisol inks.
  • Advocacy for recording all ink mixing and application processes for consistency.
  • Recognition of the variety of ink products available and the importance of understanding their use.

Water Based Inks and Additives

Video 3B

In this discussion, Mark emphasizes the importance of science and chemistry in the ink production process, particularly the role of pH levels.

Different components in the ink are activated at varying pH levels, affecting the curing process and overall ink behavior. The speaker advises maintaining a proper ink kitchen with necessary tools like mixers and blenders, highlighting that this requires some investment but significantly impacts ink viscosity and performance.

To preserve ink quality, it’s crucial to keep inks covered to prevent water and ammonia loss, which can lead to pH shifts and unwanted microbial growth. Mark also touches on the use of fixers and crosslinkers. Fixers help bind pigment to resin, especially in suboptimal curing conditions, while crosslinkers lower curing temperatures, beneficial for materials like polyester.

The discussion includes practical tips on handling ink, such as using advanced humectants that maintain ink moisture without causing screen drying or clogging. These newer technologies enable more efficient and relaxed printing processes.

Finally, the importance of maintaining proper pallet temperatures during printing, as it affects the rheology of both plastisols and water-based inks, ensuring consistent quality and performance in the final printed products.

Part 4 of 6 - Waterbased PVC-Free Alternatives - Inks/Ink Prep

Video Key Points

  • Importance of science and chemistry in ink production
  • Role of pH levels in activating ink components and affecting curing
  • Necessity of maintaining an ink kitchen with mixers and blenders
  • Keeping inks covered to prevent water and ammonia loss
  • Use of fixers to bind pigment to resin in suboptimal curing conditions
  • Use of crosslinkers to lower curing temperatures for materials like polyester
  • Advanced humectants to maintain ink moisture and prevent screen drying
  • Importance of maintaining proper pallet temperatures during printing
  • Practical tips for efficient and relaxed printing processes

Water-Based Ink Press Set-Up

This Video discusses the importance of various elements in screen printing, such as squeegees, blade quality, pressure, speed, and angles, for achieving consistent and repeatable results.

The text highlights the significance of using sharp squeegees and the proper techniques to ensure high-quality prints. Additionally, the text mentions the role of temperature control, particularly pallet temperature, in printing with water-based inks. It explains how maintaining the right temperature helps drive off water from the ink and prevents issues like ink build-up. The text also emphasizes the importance of warming up the press and using appropriate flash curing techniques to ensure the best results.

Part 5 of 6 - Waterbased PVC-Free Alternatives - Screen Printing/Press Set-Up

Video Key Points

  • Importance of Squeegees: Sharp squeegees are essential for high-quality prints. Blade quality and maintenance significantly impact print results.
  • Technique Consistency: Consistent pressure, speed, and angle are crucial for repeatable outcomes. Adjustments might be necessary based on the ink type.
  • Temperature Control: Maintaining the correct pallet temperature (140-150°F) /(60-65°C) is vital, especially for water-based inks, to prevent ink build-up and ensure smooth prints.
  • Flash Curing: Using the right flash curing techniques, including air assist, helps effectively remove water from water-based inks.
  • Preparation and Setup: Properly setting up and dialing in each screen head before printing ensures everything is ready and aligned.
  • Machine Warm-Up: Warming up the machine to the correct operating temperature before starting the print run ensures optimal ink performance.
  • Handling Ink and Screens: Cleaning screens promptly and maintaining a clean work environment helps avoid issues during printing stops and restarts.

Water-Based Inks and Curing how to do

In curing and drying water-based inks, precision in time and temperature is crucial, unlike with plastisol inks where there’s more leeway.

Water-based inks typically require 2.5 to 3 minutes at a specified temperature range. Deviating from this, such as reducing drying time and running items through the dryer multiple times, leads to issues like color variance and improper curing. Ensuring proper air flow and maintaining clean dryers are also essential to avoid internal condensation at high temperatures. The curing process involves moving the ink from an alkaline to an acidic environment, affecting viscosity and adhesion. Proper drying ensures the water evaporates before the ink reaches the final curing temperature, highlighting the importance of consistent dryer settings.

Part 6 of 6 - Waterbased PVC-Free Alternatives - Curing / Drying

Video Key Points

  • Precision in time and temperature is crucial for curing water-based inks.
  • Water-based inks require 2.5 to 3 minutes at a specified temperature range.
  • Deviating from this timing causes issues like color variance and improper curing.
  • Proper airflow and clean dryers are essential to avoid condensation inside the dryer.
  • The curing process involves moving the ink from an alkaline to an acidic environment.
  • This pH change affects ink viscosity and adhesion to the fabric.
  • Proper drying ensures water evaporates before the ink reaches the final curing temperature.
  • Consistent dryer settings are necessary for effective curing.

“Green” screen printing inks, must comply with one or the other OEKO label like:

Who said that screen printing is easy? Yes, it is, but if you go deep into the professional side of screen printing, you start realizing that there are so many factors. How to Screen Print like a Professional is all about controlling your variables, and understanding these concepts is key. I loved these video sessions because they align perfectly with my own experiences

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35 years of screen printing have taught me a lot. I would like others to benefit from this as well. I strive for accuracy, use professional writing aids, and personally review all content. Affiliate links marked with (#) support my work without incurring additional costs. If you have a question or suggestion, please leave a comment. Thank you for your support!

Over the decades, I've had the privilege of printing for a range of clients, from startups to recognized brands like:

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