Most traditional screen printing (typically used on t-shirts, jackets, sweatshirts, and bags) is done with plastisol inks. This is essentially a layer of melted PVC that coats the printed fibers and is then cured to set to a shiny finish. On our towels, we use water-based ink which is comprised of dyes and/or pigments that are combined with water and set by means of the water evaporating. After the water evaporates, the dye or pigment is absorbed into the fibers rather than just coating the tops. This is what keeps the fabric soft as opposed to a coat of plastisol which would feel rough. Plastisol is also very water resistant, making it a poor choice on towels since they would lose their ability to absorb water where it has coated with PVC based ink. At Holden we also place a high value on our environment. We are always keeping our environment in mind, and because plastisol inks also have a more chemical heavy clean-up process, making the water-based ink screen printing option more favorable to us as well.
Water and dye are the main components of water-based inks, making them a lower opacity than plastisol inks. Since the inks tend to have a factor of transparency, all color inks do not print onto all color towels the same way. Due to the thinner consistency of water-based ink, we found that the best printing methods for our color towels are using Translucent White ink, Color on Color ink (please refer to color chart below for details), and Black ink.
In order to make photographs compatible for tone on tone printing, we need to break them down into vector shapes and lines. This creates a stylized version of the original photo. Combining various tone on tone print colors (Translucent, Color on Color, and/or Black) can create a more defined, detailed image.
If the amount of detail and color in your image is crucial to the overall appearance of the towel you're envisioning, check out our Full Color Print towel.