Whether you’re using screen, direct-to-garment, heat transfer or sublimation printing, your choice of ink will directly affect the quality, cost and feel of your finished prints. We take a look at the current options from the main suppliers
DuPont and Polyprint inks
According to Amaya, DuPont’s DTG inks are renowned for their “vibrant colours and washability”. Inks are available in 250 ml and 1000 ml bottles and they can be used with most refillable-type systems, although the company does recommend checking compatibility when ordering. “Being one of the largest suppliers, we are able to supply the freshest ink possible and at the most competitive prices,” Amaya comments, adding that for soft feel prints with excellent washability, it is important to use the best inks available.
Also from Amaya are Polyprint DTG Power Ink in CMYK colours, which the company reports as having a much reduced curing time of 90 seconds on dark garments and 45 seconds on white garments: “This could be a big advantage on smaller designs which have a small print time,” Amaya notes.
Amaya also sells the DuPont pre-coating liquid together with Polyprint Polycoating, which is said to be great for adding extra bright colours on white cotton as well as giving the ability of printing on white polyester.
Bordeaux Digital Printink
Eden PG pigment ink
Ink manufacturer Bordeaux Digital Printink offers a full range of inks for every application, saying: “As industries are becoming more demanding, print shops are required to provide more complex solutions. As always, Bordeaux is standing up to the challenge, offering all ink solutions under one roof.”
The latest development from Bordeaux is the innovative Eden PG pigment ink. “The key advantage of the ‘one ink, all fabric’ Eden PG is its ability to adhere to any fabric: cotton, polyester, silk, Lycra and many more,” says Bordeaux. “With this ability, Bordeaux is changing the map for print shops as they are now able to print any type of textile application, from soft signage to apparel to upholstery, with a single ink and a single printing line.”
Colenso Screen Services
“Colenso Screen Services is the UK’s exclusive distributor of Wilflex plastisols. “With our national coverage and a team of geographically positioned technical representatives, Colenso can offer excellent service and support to the Wilflex brand,” promises the company.
It adds that Wilflex’s new opaque colour mixing system Epic Rio provides a solution for many T-shirt printers, allowing for accurate Pantone matching as well as providing a vibrant, opaque print with soft feel with no pick-up on press.
Wilflex has also updated its colour mixing software to provide a Total Ink Room Management System (IMS3). Colenso says that this allows users to match accurately to Pantone, but also allows them to calculate ink volume requirements as well as making it possible to mix away any unwanted inventory, therefore helping to reduce costs.
New to the transfer market are the Wilflex One, a PVC- and phthalate-free plastisol, and the water-based Wilflex Oasis Hydrate.
Virus and CMX inks
Dave Roper offers Virus’s Hydra, Perfetto, Discharge and Special Effect ink water-based ink ranges, which it says produce vivid colouring and excellent washability. “It is the only water-based range that offers pigment and Pantone mixing,” it advises.
The company adds that its plastisols remain most popular with customers – from the standard and fluorescent inks, to the CMX inks used to achieve Pantone colours, and the specialist screen printing ink for advanced design.
The team at Dave Roper say it is happy to help everyone from screen printing newbies to experienced printers get the most from their inks. The company’s online store is available 24/7 for inks and other consumables.
New print head specific DTG inks
Image Armor has announced that it will soon be launching its E/B/F/R Series direct-to-garment inks, which will provide a specific ink option for most of the major direct-to-garment printers currently available.
“These inks are going to change the industry with a true 35-second white ink cure on black shirts and improved washability,” says the company, adding: “The Image Armor Series inks also keep the capping station and wipers cleaner while providing better coverage and whiter whites.” In addition, Image Armor notes that its inks contain no alcohol and offer superior stretchability.
The new B/F/R inks join the Image Armor E-Series inks, which are designed for use with DX5 and DX7 print heads, meaning they will work with most of the Epson ‘re-purposed’ printers on the market. The new B-Series is designed for use with the Brother GT3 printer, while the F-Series is designed for use with Epson’s F2000 DTG printers. Finally, the R-Series is specifically engineered to work with many of the printer models that use the high-end Ricoh Gen4 and Gen5 print heads.
“While the industry is still debating if pigment inks are a viable solution or not, Kornit is the vendor that uses nothing but its NeoPigment inks in all of its systems, with excellent results and process benefits,” explains the company.
In Kornit’s direct-to-garment systems, NeoPigment inks enable wet-on-wet printing on a variety of fibre types and where the pre-treatment is done inline in the machine. For Kornit’s roll-to-roll system Allegro, the company uses a variation called NeoPigment Intenso, where the pre-treatment is applied through the print head so the system applies a pixel of pre-treatment only where there is a pixel of ink. For the new Kornit Vulcan, which has been designed for mass customisation applications, there is another formulation called NeoPigment Rapido that allows for the production of up to 250 shirts per hour.
Kornit’s prints are AATCC-tested, says the company, reporting that they will withstand about 50 washing cycles. “Kornit’s NeoPigment system is a proprietary one, though – you don’t get the ink without the system, and you can’t run the system without the ink,” Kornit advises.
Proprietary inks for Texart printers
The Roland DG Texart ink range has been created to work specifically with the Texart RT-640 and Texart XT-640 dye-sublimation printers. Promoted as being vibrant and quick-drying and having long-lasting durability, the Texart range, when configured in dual CMYL mode, works in combination with the Roland DG proprietary Ink Switching System, which automatically switches to the next ink pouch for unattended, continuous printing.
Roland DG recently launched the Texart Fluorescent inks – fluor pink and fluor yellow – to add a whole new spectrum of colours for printing on sublimation fabrics in hundreds of different combinations. To help users get the most out of these new inks, Roland DG has created a Fluor Ink Library, which contains 375 fluorescent colour combinations.
According to Roland DG, its most popular ink is the Eco- Sol Max, which offers a wide colour gamut and includes white and metallic: “With durable, reliable and consistent colour from cartridge to cartridge, Eco-Sol Max 3 is a popular choice for productive and efficient printing across a wide range of applications,” the company advises.
MHM Direct GB
MHM Direct GB notes that water-based inks are going through a resurgence of late, with the demand being driven by customer insistence on environmentally-sound and soft-feel prints, while plastisol remains the ink of choice for those looking for ease of use with the added bonus of printability onto a wide range of substrates.
MHM Direct GB supplies ranges of both types of inks, and says it “can offer the best performing white ink on the market; whether you need an everyday cotton white, a low bleed white or a dye blocking polyester white, we can supply the trusted US brand of International Coatings inks from our centrally based UK distribution facility”. The inks are backed up by knowledgeable staff who have decades of experience using the products, plus the company will also run the first batch on a customer’s machine to ensure that the product is the right choice for them.
MHM also offers a fully integrated and bespoke solution that it says will guarantee colours are the same every time. Its internet-linked scales and Pantone colour-matching software will even produce a pot label to ensure quicker referencing and ensure stock levels are easily managed.