First patented in 1968, digital inkjet technology accounts for a major part of the textile industry. Thanks to the affordability and availability of equipment and fabric, major textile applications such as printing flags, advertisement banners, garments, technical textiles, purchase displays and apparel are steadily on the rise. For now, screen printing is the most commercially available, but digital printing comes with its own advantages such as reduced setup costs, faster processing and environmental benefits. For the best printing quality, it is important to choose the best digital printing ink and material, which may be paper, canvas, vinyl or even fabric.
- Reactive dye ink
Reactive ink dyes can be used on fabrics such as cotton, silk, wool, nylon and chemical fiber. Such dyes are generally used by piezoelectric printers. The base material is steamed in atmospheric steamers for around 8-10 minutes at a temperature of 100-101 degree Celsius. The same procedure done in pressurized steamers takes around 20-30 minutes. In the case of a cellulosic fiber, the colorant is interacted with the fiber using covalent fire bonding. The fabric is then washed thoroughly which includes two cycles of water of different temperatures. Its qualities include bright colors, color resistance, good rubbing fastness and poor light fastness.
- Acid dye ink
Acid dye ink is used on nylon, leather, wool, albumen fiber, and silk and polyamide textile. These inks are generally used by piezoelectric printers and thermal printers. The process and temperature of procedure are similar to reactive dye inks. However, the base material is steamed for about 20 minutes while the same takes 4-60 minutes in pressurized steamers. In the case of acid dye ink, the colorant is interacted with the fiber using electrostatic and hydrogen bonding. Several washing cycles are needed to complete the procedure. Its qualities include high color saturation, color resistance and good rubbing fastness.
- Disperse dye ink
Digital dye ink is used on polyester, which generate shiny and reproducible colors. The dye formulation and fixation process is similar to that of traditional textile printing by hydrophobic solid state mechanism. If printed on paper, the paper is transferred to a press at 193-210 degree Celsius for 30-90 seconds. If printed on fabric, the ink is thermasoled depending on the type of dispersed ink. The fabric goes through a washing procedure to produce bright colors, color retention and rubbing fastness.
- Pigmented ink
Pigmented ink is used on all fibers, and is used for coloration by polymer bonding mechanism. Resin binders present in the dye help in interacting the pigment with the fabric. Therefore, the inclusion of resin is important to the ink viscosity. For example, ink with high amount of color come with low amounts of resin and color retention. On the other hand, ink with low amounts of color come with high amounts of resin and color retention. Moreover, the binder properties and concentration amount are chosen carefully to retain the quality of the fabric. Fabrics dyed with pigmented ink are color-resistant with good light fastness and rubbing fastness.
Digital printing is a fast-emerging concept in the textile industry. With so many options in the market, it is important to select the right digital printing ink manufacturers for your purpose. For optimum results, each stage of the fixation and production process must be carried out rigorously. With better chemical, hardware and software technology, the art of digital printing technology will soon become a successful industry in itself.