All About Tagless Printing Ink

Getting a good tagless print relies heavily on the type of ink used in the process. Believe it or not, there are a lot of components in the ink selection and mixing process. It is imperative to get the ink process right to get the best-looking print.

How does tagless pad printing work?

Tagless pad printing, much like standard pad printing, is the process of transferring a two-dimensional image onto a product or substrate. Specifically, tagless applies to garment labeling. A pad printer is made of several components all working in conjunction to perform a print cycle to achieve a print. The plate, or cliché, holds the artwork to be printed on the garment. The ink cup houses the ink mixture and slides over the plate. As the ink cup slides over the etched plate, it leaves a small amount of ink in the etch. The pad is the transferring mechanism that picks up the ink in the etch and applies it to the garment. For each new artwork, an etched plate must be made. In addition, for each color added an additional plate must be etched.

Additional Resources:

How is a plate made?

Pad Printing Infographic

Learn More about Pad Printing

What is Tagless Printing Ink?

Getting the best tagless print starts with finding the right garment printing ink. Our solvent-based ink is made from the finest pigment, triple-milled with a proprietary blend of resins. The Sapphire® SB series ink is a standard tagless printing ink available in a wide range of colors. If printing on dark garments pose a challenge, the Brite ink (only available with the Brite pad printer) offers a highly opaque print to stand out on any garment.

The SB and Brite inks are 2-component inks, meaning they require the addition of a hardener and solvent mixture. Both components improve the image transfer from plate to a substrate and increase the print’s overall durability.

SB Ink: Why You Need it for Apparel Tags

What is a Tagless Printing Ink Solvent?

Solvent-based inks require a solvent additive to prepare the ink for the printing process. A wide variety of solvent is available because each solvent contributes to different evaporation rates, from very fast to very slow. During the pad printing process, the solvent itself evaporates out of the ink mixture, making the ink tacky. As the ink tacks up, it can be released from the silicone pad onto the substrate.  The solvent you choose should satisfy your evaporation requirements and work with the ink series that’s best for your product.

Tagless Pad Printing Ink Solvent

What is a Tagless Printing Ink Hardener?

Hardener, otherwise known as a catalyst, ultimately results in a harder, more abrasion-resistant surface. This clear additive hardens the ink that is left over after the solvent evaporates, which allows the ink to adhere better to the surface. Ultimately, hardeners enhance image durability. When it comes to tagless pad printing, durability is important. The hardener allows the printed garment to stretch and bend without cracking. In addition, hardener increases the wash resistance of the print to last up to 50 industrial washes.

Tagless Pad Printing Ink Hardener

How Long Does Tagless pad Printing Ink Take to Dry?

When it comes to tagless garment printing, the drying times may vary depending upon type of ink used, image size, and environment. Ink is dry to the touch instantly. Print a large volume of garment labels and stack them on top of another without fear of smudging the ink. It is best to wait a full 24 hours before attempting to wash the garment. Expedite drying time with the use of a conveyorized dryer system. In total, a typical printed garment tag should dry in 15 minutes with the aid of a dryer.

Conveyor Dryer Systems

What Tagless Printing Ink Compliance Should I Look For?

Ink compliance is rather strict, yet necessary, step in the process of selling finished goods. It is important tagless printing ink meets the industry standard of meeting CPSIA (Consumer Product and Safety Act) and Proposition 65 standards. NAMSA certification is also important. It certifies the ink does not cause skin irritation. Perhaps the most important certification for garment printing ink is the Oeko Tex Eco-Passport, which determines the ink has no harmful effect on humans or the environment.

In addition, larger garment manufacturers have their own compliance standards. Restricted Substances List (RSL) are items not allowed to be on their product. Each is unique to their own respective company.

Check out our Tagless Printing Ink Compliance Documents