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FIVE DIGITAL INKS SETS AND PRINT PROCESSES EXPLAINED

Our technical team explain the five most important ink-sets, and their print processes in Digital textile Printing. As ink and head technology evolves new ink sets are becoming available, our chart below offer a summary of the primary print processes currently used.

See how the ink-sets and printing techniques relate to the fabric fibre composition in our fabric processing table below.


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And now for the technical details of each ink-set……

Dye-Sub Ink-Set

Sublimation is a scientific term which describes the process by which a solid transforms into a gas without an intermediate liquid phase. This process allows colour to be fixed onto Polyester fabrics with a great degree of accuracy and impact, owing to a vivid colour gamut. Uncoated fabrics can be used with Dye-Sub Ink-sets.

Process:

In Dye-Sub printing the process is for the pattern to be printed using a standard inkjet printer onto a high release transfer paper. The next stage of the process is to place the paper next to the  textile to be transferred in a high temperature heat press.

When this happens, the ink sublimates and transfers from the paper to the textile producing vivid colours in near perfect resolution on the textile.


Pigment Ink-Set:

Pigment inks are inks where the colorant is a fine particle dissolved and suspended in a carrier fluid.  The process deposits the ink on the fabric which , when the fluid dries, allows the particles of the colour to physically bond to the fabric in much the same way as a gravy stain occurs.

In recent technical developments the range, performance and clarity of colours has expanded significantly, resulting in the general suitability of Pigment Ink-Sets for all types of fabrics and fibres.

Process:

In Pigment printing the ink and carrier fluid are printed together directly onto the fabric using an inkjet printer. The fabric is dried as it is printed, and fixation takes place, at approximately 150°C  in a baker or thermo-fixation device.

Fabrics for Pigment printing have to be pre-coated before use.


Reactive Ink-Set:

Reactive Ink-Sets  are organic compounds whereby through a covalent bond the dyes become a chemical part of the fibre component of the fabric being printed through a reaction between the liquid of the dyestuff  and the fabric itself.

The chemical bond is very strong and produces vivid colours on Cottons, Linens and other cellulosic fabrics with excellent fastness properties.

Process:

The printing process for Reactive Ink-Sets however is complicated. First the fabric is directly printed in an inkjet printer, and the inks are dried during the printing process. Then the fabric is processed slowly through a High Temperature Steamer to fix the colours to the fabric.

Finally, the fabric is washed and dried to remove any surplus colour, so that no fading occurs during subsequent washing.

Fabrics for Reactive printing have to be pre-coated before use.


Acid Ink-Set:

Acid Ink-Sets are usually sodium salts of sulfonic acids,  whereby the dyestuff, benefitting from an  increased solubility in water in an acidic solution, creates an ionic bond with the fibres of the fabric being printed.

Generally this Ink-Set is only used to print Wool, Cashmere, Angora,  Nylon and Silk fabrics,  where its performance in terms of clarity, fastness and Intensity is exemplary.

Process:

The printing process for Acid Ink-Sets, as with Reactive Ink-Sets is complicated. Firstly the fabric is directly printed in an inkjet printer, and the inks are dried during the printing process. Then the fabric is processed very slowly through a High Temperature Steamer to fix the colours to the fabric.

Finally, the fabric is washed and dried to remove any surplus colour, so that no fading occurs during subsequent washing.

Fabrics for Acid printing have to be pre-coated before use.


Disperse Ink-Set

The Disperse Ink-Set is a low soluble dyestuff effectively dispersed in water by powerful dispersing agents, which allow the dyestuff to be adsorbed into the interstices of the fibre which expands under temperature to allow the dyestuff to be encased within the fibre at a molecular level.

This ink-set is widely used, it is applicable to Automotive and other Hard-Wearing fabrics comprising Polyester or Acetate Fibres where extremely high fastness properties are demanded.

Process:

The printing process for Disperse Ink-Sets, as with Reactive Ink-Sets, is complicated. Firstly the fabric is directly printed in an inkjet printer, and the inks are dried during the printing process. Then the fabric is processed very slowly through a High Temperature Steamer to fix the colours to the fabric.

Finally, the fabric is washed and dried to remove any surplus colour, so that no fading occurs during subsequent washing.

Fabrics for Disperse printing have to be pre-coated before use.