Fresh Coat

There’s that same old plastisol and traditional waterbase, but innovations are arriving quickly, offering screen printers a wealth of options. Here are four of the latest trends, so fresh they haven’t even had time to dry.

High Solids Acrylics

The hottest thing right now in inks. It takes a little finesse (you will likely have to flash between colors), but it meets the growing non-PVC demand and satisfies printers who don’t have the diligence for normal waterbase. “We’ve worked to make something as close to plastisol as we could,” says Brian Lessard, print development manager for Rutland Plastic Technologies. “And the advantage of that is it doesn’t dry in the screen. They can use it like a traditional plastisol and not worry about cleaning the screens out, misting with water or anything else that comes along with waterbase printing.”


The PVC-free trend is surely helping to grow interest in silicone. But so, too, is the fact that it’s ideally suited for trending performance and polyester pieces because of its good adhesion and remarkable elasticity. “You can stretch them across the room and they hold their shape, they’re very durable,” says Lessard. “The stretch is something that people are really, really into.”


The rapid rise of poly garments sent ink manufacturers and screen printers back to the drawing board. Rampant problems like dye migration are being tamed with a proliferation of low-bleed plastisol inks that cure at lower temperatures and offer stretch. “The inks themselves have greatly improved the way they cover poly,” says Andy Shuman, general manager at Rockland Embroidery (asi/83089). “Just the general coverage has become pretty spectacular.”

Soft Hand

“From an appearance standpoint, soft, soft, soft continues to be a huge driver,” says Rob Coleman, segment marketing manager of textile screen inks for Nazdar SourceOne. The trend, he says, is fueled by the explosion of soft fabrics with muted colors. While retail and consumers are gravitating toward the no-hand feel of waterbase discharge, plastisol printers are catching up with softhand bases like Rutland’s Chino or PolyOne’s Fashion Soft combined with finer meshes.