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What's the Difference Between Paint and Ink?

We get it, they look the same, and they do the same things… right? Well, you’d actually be surprised! Read on to learn the difference between paint and ink.


The ink we’re talking about is plastisol screen printing ink. At gulfaltonroad, we use great quality, soft-feel plastisol for the majority of our orders. This material is thin enough to be pushed through a tight-woven screen, yet thick enough to sit on top of the t-shirt rather than soak in and dye the fabric. With your regular acrylic or fabric paint, you might have a similar effect, but that’s where the comparison stops. 


While paint dries very quickly when exposed to air, screen printing ink does not. This stuff stays wet until it’s cured. We do this by running the t-shirt through a dryer that reaches 260 degrees… and that’s considered “low cure”! 🔥 Once it exits the drier, the t-shirt is ready to wear and is machine washable. (We suggest turning the garment inside-out when laundering for longevity.) 

 

Another key difference between paint and ink is the feel. Our ink cures soft and pliable, as if it was made to be part of the t-shirt. On the other hand, paint dries stiff and could crackle or wash away. As it dries, it will pull the fibres of your shirt and warp the garment and the design itself. Plastisol ink doesn’t create any warped effects or dramatic shrinkage. 

 

Finally, to further understand the difference between ink and paint, we can talk about the actual make-up of the materials themselves. While acrylic paint is made from pigment (the color) suspended in acrylic polymer emulsion and plasticizers, plastisol ink is made from pigment suspended in PVC resin and plasticizers. Ingredients used in both materials lend themselves to similarities in look and feel before drying or curing, but the differences in ingredients create separate uses and benefits to each material!

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