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PVC-free printing options

Printing Project

Ray Smith has been in the screen-printing industry since 1978. He has been involved as an art director, production manager, plant manager and business owner. He re-joined Wilflex in 2008 as the applications lab manager. Smith is currently the senior business development manager at PolyOne.

There is definitely a current buzz in the industry about “PVC free” decorating. This interest is, in large part, due to some major retail brands that have committed to go PVC free in the near future, not necessarily as the result of CPSIA legislation.

Most of the PVC-free discussion focuses on its limitations; these adverse opinions largely stem from comparing it to easier-to-use plastisol inks that contain PVC. However, knowing the limitations of each offering may help to decide which is best for any given project. Here, we attempt to make such a discovery through a head-to-head comparison of water-base screen printing ink, PVC-free plastisol and a direct-to-garment ink.

The objective of each test is to print a halftone print on a dark garment. This one type of printing creates a definite line of ability between three specific PVC-free offerings. A simple duotone photo design was optimized to perform at its best for each of the applications. All other print parameters, along with observations and findings for each, are listed with each of the examples.