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What Is Digital Textile Printing?

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  • Written By: Alex Newth
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 20 June 2014
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Digital textile printing is similar to using a printer to print on a piece of paper, but the intended medium is textiles for use in shirts and blankets. Printing with a digital textile machine offers advantages over traditional methods in that new colors and designs can be added to the fabric. Some fabrics are porous and absorb ink, and others are not, so a non-bleeding unit must be added to the digital textile printing unit so that these other fabrics do not bleed after printing. The disadvantages of digital textile printing are from spot coloring inaccuracy, slower printing times and difficulty in digital setup.

This type of printing is nearly the same as using a regular printer. Most textile printers look like a wide-format poster printer and have a roll of fabric attached to the back. When the operator loads an image into the computer and prints it, the textile printer draws in fabric from the roll and then uses an ink-loaded carrier that moves back and forth to get the ink onto the fabric.

The inks that are used are different from those used by traditional screen-printing machines, so digital textile printing is able to reproduce many different colors. Most graphics are made on computers, so this printing technology is able to work hand-in-hand with graphic designers and design programs. These programs can also create interesting effects that can be exactly duplicated with a digital textile printer.

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The ink used by digital textile printing is water-based, which makes it easier for the ink to soak into the fabric. Porous fabrics, such as wool and cotton, can easily absorb this ink without bleeding at all. Non-porous fabrics, such as nylon, have difficulty absorbing the ink, so bleeding and poor absorption are often a problem for these printers. For this reason, a non-bleeding mechanism is added that pre-heats the fabric and uses a bonding chemical that alleviates the ink bleeding.

There are several problems with using digital textile printing over traditional screen-printing. Spot coloring, or achieving the same color continuously without accuracy, is a problem with using ink because there are many factors that can affect ink color. The speed of the printing itself is also slower than screen-printing, but printing on wide rolls to get more fabric done at once usually alleviates this.

Digital setup also is more difficult, especially for people who are new to digital textile printing. To properly set up the textile printing, the image has to be saved in several image formats, and the color has to be calibrated in the correct color setting. Failure to do this will mean that the color that prints out will be much different from that on the screen.

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anon209018
Post 1

Really a nice post and the post is very informative. This is true that digital textile printer takes less time and produce a good quality image. Good post.

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