Helen Parry, managing director of Magna Colours, discusses the company’s Make the Switch campaign and the benefits of water-based inks

Why did you introduce the Make the Switch campaign?
Our Make the Switch (MTS) programme was introduced in January 2018 at ISS Long Beach, California, as a response to the increasing trend we are seeing in the market to move away from PVC-containing screen inks. We wanted to develop a proactive programme that could hand-hold screen printers through the process and alleviate any concerns they may have about switching to water-based inks. We also wanted to highlight the many benefits of working with water-based over plastisol.

Why do you think it’s important printers make the switch?
One of the reasons is definitely peace of mind. Water-based inks avoid the use of harmful chemicals such as phthalates and solvents and are consequently better for operatives, the environment and end users alike. So at Magna we are leading the industry to make big changes for the better.

What percentage of UK printers currently use water-based inks?
This depends on the type of screen printer and the market their products are intended for. The drive from fashion retailers and brands to eliminate PVC based inks from their ranges means that around 50% of UK printers for this market use water-based inks. Yet the lack of incentive or drive in the promotional garment market means that as little as 10-20% use water-based over plastisol inks.

What are the main myths around waterbased inks that you’d like to bust?
The main myth is that water-based inks are hard to use and can be problematic by causing screen blockages. We’ve innovated our products to ensure these issues don’t occur; advances and new technology in Magna’s water-based inks mean that there are really no disadvantages anymore.

What are the pros of water-based inks?
Clearly the environmental and health angle is a strong argument for waterbased inks. The soft handle of the print and performance on the garment is another great advantage.

And the cons?
Having to adapt production operatives and processes to water-based is the only con – this can be a slow process, especially for printers used to using plastisol inks. The culture change is a key thing, getting used to not leaving lids off ink pots or screens flooded for days on end. This isn’t a negative of water-based inks, it’s just a different kind of operating.

Also, water-based inks now have a huge selection of special effects, which were once thought only achievable with plastisols. Water-based inks are even catching up on the ultra-highbuild effects that can be achieved using plastisol inks.

What’s the cost of switching?
In direct comparison by weight, plastisol inks may be cheaper to purchase, but the ultimate production efficiencies and lower energy consumption gained through using water-based ensure a more cost-effective print line. The initial investment to making the switch is mainly one of time, but the pay-off is worth it.

What upcoming developments can you tell us about?
We’ve recently added a blending white ink to our brand new MagnaPrint Edge range called Edge White. MagnaPrint Edge is a really exciting product because it stays wet on the screen, but dries instantly when applied to fabric, providing one of the performance benefits of plastisol inks without the use of harmful chemicals.

What is the best or most unusual print created using water-based inks that you’ve seen?
The print of the Egyptian girl shows a huge range of MagnaPrint water-based special effects inks: Expanding NF puff paste has been used alongside sparkling Glitter AP and PearlFlex, with fine print detail achieved using AquaFlex V2 and HB range inks.

How, in one sentence, would you convince Images readers that Magna Colour inks arebetter than others on the market?
For 40 years, MagnaColours has been pushing the boundaries of waterbased inks, using our expertise and experience to lead the market with innovative products and initiatives that challenge the industry and make screen printing greener and more sustainable.


The print of the Egyptian girl demonstrates the brand’s special effects inks