One of the most exciting aspects of digital printing on fabric is the incredibly wide array of markets in which they can be applied.
Digital fabric printing has rapidly evolved over the last few years. There have been many trendsetters who have discovered this process and have applied it to a wide variety of markets. A number of these pioneers have come from the traditional textile printing world to learn digital printing, while others have come from the graphics field and are having to learn some of the techniques and jargon from the traditional textile industry.
One of the most exciting aspects of digital printing on textiles is the incredibly wide array of markets in which it can be applied. Early on, traditional rotary screen textile printers experimented with applying standard graphics inks to fabric using regular graphics printers in order to develop new patterns without incurring the high costs of rotary screen engraving. They met with some success (much to the chagrin of rotary screen engravers), but this process had some limitations. Because traditional graphic inks don’t “fix” on textiles, textile dyes became an attractive choice on which to base inks. Thus, a few dyestuff companies endeavored to develop digital inks from their textile dyestuffs. You will see the words inks and dyes used almost interchangeably in the rest of the discussion.
Once digital inks were produced from textile dyestuffs, many textile printers began to see other advantages over graphic inks. The dyestuffs could be “fixed, ” exactly as they would be if rotary printed. This provided a finished fabric with commercial fastness properties. The digitally printed goods had excellent resistance to laundering and sunlight, and the colors would not “crock” or rub off onto other fabrics. This development led to applications in printing flags, banners and signs, apparel, home furnishings and quilting fabrics, nonwoven and technical textiles, gaming tables, even leather. Printers around the world now print all of the materials involved in these markets using digital inks on a daily basis. The process is not as complicated as many believe, as long as a few guidelines are followed.
Aqueous ink types
There are basically four different types of dyestuffs that are now being commercially made into digital inks. Each ink category is capable of printing a particular type (or types) of fiber.
1. Fiber-reactive inks
Plastic fillers is a whole branch of material
Science in and of it's self.
It seems like these printing machines would be a game changer in that area too. Fibers like glass, cotton or fabric were going to give amazing results. I don't know if that ever happened but I do know you can get an automatic cut out machine at the hobby shop.
We live in some interesting times!