We all are familiar with textile as it relates to soft signage and display graphics but there’s another world out there. The world of printing fabrics or printing on to apparel and home textiles in which the image generated from the digital file can be applied directly to the cloth or indirectly using secondary media to hold the image.
Digital printing technology was first developed to print on paper. Also over the years many people ask well what’s like, what’s new and what are some new technologies that we can get & we can invest into. Let’s discuss More Opportunities & better ideas about the textiles market.
What is the Digital Textile Printing Market?
In today’s world of digital textile printing market, 15 billion meters of fabric is printed every day. So you can imagine how big and how much potential you can find in this business.
Most of the fabric in the textiles is printed on the analogical traditional printing way, means on rotary screen and on flatbed and discover almost eighty percent of these fifty million meters produce per year.
This printing has cost-efficient long runs, hence that’s why people been doing it for so long. It’s good for single image repeats which is part of the image just repeated over and over and has proven a good manufacturing methods.
This printing have some limitations but it went along with the technology. If we think back with the flat screens or rotary screens, have a limited size of our graphic elements.
Only five percent is optimistic of a figure because only five percent is printed in the textile digital market. Within next 10 to 15 years this number will grow from five to fifty percent.
With the advent of the technology the print heads, the inks, the machines you can now realize shorter runs, quicker time to market. You can do unlimited colors and you’ll get to the color issue in the color a bit.
So huge opportunity for new application and new potential market. So keep in mind this is the first smack stone, our great opportunity and reason why to enter in the digital textile business.
Let’s now concentrate in the kind of the inks used in the textiles printing market. Fifty percent of the fabric printed on the analogical procedure use pigment inks.
Disperse and reactive pigment is the last generation, the last development of the ink for the digital technology and this is one of the big reason to find opportunity to enter on the digital textile market.
Future of the Digital Textile Printing
There are many applications which provide the digital textile printing industry with opportunities for expansion. Applications such as Home textiles, Soft signage, Automotive & Fashion are moving in the new technology.
Digital Textile Printing Requirements:
All the inks are water-based which means this is a green technology. People basically use reactive ink for cotton fabric, direct disperse for polyester Fabric or Dye sublimation is used as it’s more familiar to print on paper and then transfer on under percent polyester fabric and then we have acid that is usually use for silk and wool fabric.
Last but not the least the pigment is the real innovation because pigment is the only one inks can be used for all the substrate. With the pigment you can print the cotton, wool & polyester. It is the only ink that give the opportunity to print blended fabrics.
The future is to develop a complete green process, so not only green inks but a full completely green process for a greener future of the textiles.
- Direct Printing:
On the digital side however more aligned to traditional conventional process is Direct to printing (DTP). This is an offline process so you make a preparation of the fabric with some chemistry & then you print and dry the fabric. After printing comes the finishing process in line which contain steaming, washing & stenter. This is the standard direct to print process on fabric on digital machinery.
- Transfer Printing:
The second and the more familiar process is the transfer printing. In this case fabric do not need any type of preparation. The only limitation is that can be done only on polyesters. In this process you print on paper and you dry the paper on the digital printing and then offline you transfer the paper on the fabric with a calendar.
Let’s understand the new process, the new green process which comes from the new inks that is pigment. Pigment ink is relatively new to the development arena. The process is simple enough to print the fabric (pre-coating is optional) with the ink and pass the same directly to the fixation stage.
It can be done in single stage with inline fixation unit in place. The fixation of the inks i.e. the polymerization of the ink because the pigment inks need to be polymerized 160 degree for a period of time between 4-6 minutes depend of the speed of the machine. This is what we call an integrated green solution.
Pigment printing is an opaque printing method which is a new development for digital textile printing. Here printing color on top of the fiber so we’re applying it like paint, the other dye types will go over so it’s an opaque method. Post-treatment is a heated calendar or a flatbed press and pre-treated fabric yields the best results.
If you can use untreated fabric about 10% of them work fairly well as far as color retention what you don’t get out of the fabric. If it’s not pre-treated you may face issues with rub fastness issues, you don’t get much durability & wash fastness.
- Disperse No Wash:
The other new process is what we call disperse no wash, another green printing process solution. In this case there is no preparation in the fabric, we print and we can make online the drawing and the fixation or in case customers is already have a calendar can make offline the fixation. This is a very important process because it do not require before preparation nor washing after printing. Another green process for the textiles business.
- Reactive no Wash:
In the future we are already looking for something new as pigment and the dispersion no wash is something that is not really finished development. Reactive no wash is another kind of chemistry that is developing. It is another kind of process where washing and the steaming will be avoided, so less water consumption, less power consumption and greener solution for a green world.