Digital Printing on Different Kinds of Fabrics

Digital printing is the latest innovation in the textile industry. An increased number of digital printers are transitioning the way towards competitive advantages that digital textile printing offers. Digital printing offers a fast production rate and the possibility of printing fine patterns and complex designs on fabrics that were never before possible. In this article, we are going to have a look at what digital textile printing is and what kinds of fabrics it is suitable for.

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Beautiful and refined designs achieved through digital printing

What is digital textile printing?

It is an inkjet-based printing method that enables us to print refined patterns and designs on fabrics with mathematical precision. However, some fabrics are not suitable for digital printing. But to understand what kind of fabrics are not easy to print digitally, let us explore what exactly digital textile printing is.

In this technology, a fabric needs to be pretreated before it passes through the inkjet printer at a high speed. A digital printer reads the printable design of a data file, selects the right color, and prints the colors onto the fabric.

The fabric is colored by tiny droplets of ink that jump from many print heads at high speed. These print heads are placed just a few millimeters above the fabric that is going to be printed.

Digital textile printing fabrics

In a digital textile printer, many print heads mean a rapid production rate coupled with high accuracy. However, because print heads are close to the substrate or the fabric to be printed, certain fabrics can not be used for digital printing. This is because loose threads of certain fabrics may come into contact with these printheads and can cause damage. While digital textile printing can be used for woven and knitted fabrics alike, in the following, I’ll specify which fabrics are suitable for digital textile printing and which are not:

  • Cotton

Cotton is a natural fabric that is widely used in the fashion industry due to its water retention, moisture control, and comfort. Cotton is suitable for digital prints and retains the dye well. Reactive inks are used to print cotton because they provide wash fastness for prints on cotton.

  • Viscose

It is another natural fabric that comes only second to cotton when it comes to popularity in the fashion and textile industry. It is also very comfortable and durable. It is very easy to dye with a digital printer using reactive inks as is the case with cotton.

  • Silk

It is another natural fabric that is suitable to dye with a digital printer. It can be dyed with reactive ink when high-fastness is a priority, as well as with acid ink when you want to have a full-color spectrum

  • Wool

Digital printing on wool is possible but it is not easy and has a potential drawback. Since wool is hairy, it contains a lot more yarn sticking out. That is why the print heads must be positioned as far above the substrate as possible. The yarn is as much as five times thick as the diameter of the nozzle of the print head meaning that it can cause severe damage to it.