Screen Printing:

Quality Ink Without the Price Tag

By Kieth Stevens, Contributing Writer

February 15, 2018

If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Don’t let the hype fool you. It’s not necessary to pay an excessive amount of money to get a quality product.

When it comes to quality ink, what’s inside the container should speak for itself; otherwise, don’t buy it. Just because someone says their product is better, or just because the packaging or names look modern and hip, the hype is not necessarily true, nor is the product necessarily better.

We aren’t talking about race cars and rocket ships here. For the most part, we are talking about technologies that have been around for about half a century. Some companies try and mix things up every once in a while to drum up new business with something that is perceived as new when in fact, it’s been around for many years. It’s their way of taking something tested and reliable and sprucing it up so it comes off as new and revolutionary. Now you spent the money and you think you have a revolutionary product, but in fact it’s the same technology being packaged and sold at a higher price.

Bleed blocker grays and blacks? Low-cure inks and or additives? Stretch inks? Reflective ink? All of these inks and additives were introduced 30-plus years ago. The same goes for color-changing inks.

When purchasing ink there are some characteristics you should keep in mind. The following questions will help you sort out the good quality ink from the overpriced ink:

• Does the ink perform as needed?
• Does the color matching system work? Do the colors match?
• Do the inks cure well?
• Do the inks withstand normal washing conditions?
• Do the low-bleed inks resist dye migration?
• Do the inks print well or does it take an extreme amount of pressure to get it to flow through the screen?
• Does the ink provide coverage (i.e., is it opaque)?
• Does your supplier fully support the product? Do they have thorough knowledge of the product line?
• Does the ink manufacturer offer a complete line of products and additives?

Don’t get me wrong, there are improvements being made and new technology being invented in the ink industry. However, most of the new technology is targeted to very specific evolutionary demands, such as new dyes, fabric construction, greener technology and the like.

Kieth Stevens is the Western regional sales manager for International Coatings. He has been teaching screen printing for more than 10 years and is a regular contributor to International Coatings’ blogs. For more information, visit and read the company’s blog at