Digital fabric printing is the process of colorants or digital files being imprinted onto fabric using a highly specialised ink-jet printer. Spgprints asserts that “digital textile printing is the latest innovation in textile printing.” Digital textile printing becomes a preference when you want to print smaller designs onto garments like as dresses T-shirts, and promotional wear. This type of design is what we refer to as a garment- to -wear. Digital fabric printing is also in use for printing larger designs in more prominent fabrics. This type of design is a growing trend in the advertising industry and is in use in visual communication where you imprint branding on fabrics. Examples include flags, signs, banners and retail graphics among many others.
Printing textile digitally began during the late 1980s when analog screen printing was getting phased out. The creation of dye-sublimation printer in 1992 made it possible to print with sublimation inks directly onto textile media. It was much faster than the previous process: the dye-sublimation where inks were printed on a transfer paper and then transferred onto the fabric.
Where can we find more about digital fabric printing?
There are many places where you can find deep and relevant information about digital textile printing. From websites of digital fabric printing companies to online courses on online learning platforms such as Udemy and university and college websites, the resources are in plenty.
You can watch tutorials on YouTube. You can repeat them as many times as you want to understand the process that results in digital imprints of fabrics. Videos are better because you can see the machines as they are producing images. It has an advantage of visual impression.
You can get in-depth information about digital printing from blogs that create content on digital fabric printing. Majority of these blogs are usually in the ownership by digital material printing firms, and is no doubt that you will get in-depth and updated information from such e-books. You can visit blogs such as SPGPRINTS and Artlab to get downloadable resources.
If you want constant information about digital fabrics, then reading blogs of companies in this industry is the best option. You can also enroll in online publishing platforms such as Medium to get relevant content. Many writers in this niche can improve your understanding of printing.
You can easily access the latest magazines published by digital fabric printing companies on the internet. Just type in the names of the companies and move to their website. You will find a magazine to keep yourself busy.
Quora is another learning platform where you can find relevant content on digital methods. Experts in this field answer questions posed at an in-depth length. You will learn a lot from Quora.
Where can I print custom fabrics?
There are many custom digital textile printing companies in the market. Some are expensive, and others are cheap, it is just up to you to decide on the company to hire depending on your budget.
If you want to make tiny print runs like for about 1-5 yards, then you can hire SpoonFlower or Zazzle which are on-demand online printing sites. Spoonflower offers digital services in many types of textiles such as cotton, stretch fabric and wall covering weights. They also have a monthly design contest that has produced great designers since its inception some years back. If you are interested in, then I would challenge you to take part in these contests.
Zazzle performs a wide range of printing services. They print on bicycles, chocolate bars, and even paper napkins. You can get a custom wallpaper, bath mats, and fabrics. Just like SpoonFlower, Zazzle also has print on demand sources. All you need to do is upload your digital design and order it. These sites are fit for making small orders; you may have to inquire if they offer discounts for bulk orders.
Hollflower.com also provides quality custom digital printing for fabrics such as cotton, silk, polyester, linen, and viscose. Even though its base is in India, you will be able to get high-quality custom printed fabrics at a low price.
Chiral designs will produce the most reliable digitally printed fabrics at low prices. They also handle garment design and the cut-and-sew whenever necessary. Hire them today to get the best custom fabrics.
What is the best machine for textile digital printing?
There are many types of fabrics, and each of them requires a special kind of ink chemistry. That is why each machine that prints fabric requires to be in use for a specific material. There are two types of machines: direct-to-fabric and dye sublimation. The kind of machine you will buy depends on the type of fabric to be printed.
Fabrics such as cotton, silk, and nylon require a direct-to-fabric printer to bring out the required excellent result. Polyester fabrics are better with a dye sublimation printer.
Top Dye Sublimation printers
This printer creates perfect imprints on polyesters. It is used to print soft-signage textiles for use in airports, malls, and tradeshows. It can also be used to print sports apparel and home décors such as shower curtains and tapestries.
This printer is the perfect printing machine for people who are starting in dye sublimation fabric printing. It has a stunning print result and is easy to operate and maintain. You will never regret working with this machine.
Top Direct-to-Fabric Printers
These types of printers are preferred for use in silk, nylon, cotton and other textile that is not of polyester making. The process involves putting ink directly onto the fabrics without having to transfer it from another paper.
It is the best option for small to medium-sized printing productions especially the woven products. It is simple to operate and require little maintenance. It also self-monitors its performance.
This printer moves the fabric along the printer using a print blanket that has adhesive for quality printing on delicate fabrics and woven goods. Additionally, the machine has a belt to prevent it from destroying the blanket’s edges. It offers the same printing technology as the TX300P-1800 Mimaki model.
So it is up to you to choose the printer you want from these machines.
How do designers print on fabric?
Generally, there are two types of methods: the dye sublimation and the direct-to-fabric way. The type of printing method you use is a determination of the kind of fabric you have. For example, polyester fabrics are imprinted using the dye sublimation method. All the other non-polyester fabrics including nylon, cotton, and silk are stamped using the direct-to-fabric method.
The Dye Sublimation Method
This mode is the application of dye sublimation inks onto materials by a heat pressing to provide the required composite of heat and pressure. The pressure, heat and, time convert the inks from solid state to the gaseous state allowing their penetration the fabric to form a permanent, beautiful image. At high temperatures, the pores of the polymers and the polyesters open allowing the gaseous color to enter and become part of the fabric. The color penetrates the material so that the result is durable and resistant to scratching.
This printing method is much more effective compared to other types of printing methods. Because of the need to open pores for imprinting to take place, natural materials such as cotton and silk cannot be stamped using accurate dye-sublimation methods. Natural fibers do not have pores to be opened under high temperatures.
The Direct-to-Fabric Print Method
This method is also known as Direct-To-Garment Method. It is a digital printing technology in which designs are imprinted directly onto the fabric using an inkjet printer. The inkjet printer has special water-based inks that are introduced into the material in specific amounts.
Before you print the fabrics, they are going through a pre-treatment process which entails dipping it in particular chemicals. These chemicals add a coating onto the fabric thereby promoting better absorption of the ink. You then move them to another machine that introduces ink using steam and heat after which the fabric is washed and dried to remove the chemicals.
Direct-to-fabric is suitable for complex designs with intricate details, realistic photos and a broad range of colors. This method is preferred when the models are to be printed up to the edge of the fabric. It also works better on lighter fabrics such as the cotton and nylon and silk.
What do you think about digital printing in the textile industry?
According to Ink World magazine, textile printing is a 7.5-billion-dollar industry. This industry is expected to grow at about 34 percent annually across the globe. In 2019 alone, there are expectations that digital fabric printing will increase by more 25 percent in the last quarter. This analysis means that digital printing is one of the best industries to invest your money in.
The world is in constant fast fashion meaning it is an evergreen industry. Designers need to continually create new and inspiring models that go viral in the market. Fashion companies are moving towards digital fabric printing because of several benefits such as unlimited colors, faster production timelines, and visual integrity.
What is the disadvantage of digital printing on fabric?
There are many benefits that outweigh its disadvantages. Here are the drawbacks:
1.The type of material to be used is limited
The dye-sublimation method can only be in use with polyester and polymers meaning that people who have these types of printers cannot imprint on cotton, nylon or silk fabrics. The same applies to the Direct –to-fabric printers: those who own these printers are in limitation to all other fabrics except polyester.
2.The Ink is expensive
Currently,the ink prices are exorbitant. The prices of ink need to be adjusted to promote the development of digital fabric printing.
What can we do for digital textile printing?
The industry has a high potential of superseding the traditional methods and becoming the dominant method. We can work on improving its strengths and solving its limitations such as lobbying for a reduction of the ink prices.
We can also lobby for the reduction in prices of inks and printers to enable the development of the digital printing industry. For those in the fashion industry, we can hasten our transition to digital because it has more benefits than disadvantages.
What are the benefits of using digital printing?
Digital fabric printing has numerous benefits that were not available with traditional printing methods. Here they are:
Is much faster than the conventional screen-printing method. Something that can take eight weeks to clear with the screen printing method is instant with the digital ink jetting method. Remember that for the screen-printing method if the final product is not perfect, then you will have to repeat the [procedure all over again.
Digital printing has removed the limitations that screen-printing had. Designers are no longer limited to physical dying and screening. They have access to a full range of colors and designs which automatically render visual clarity and high fidelity.
Reduces water usage by up to 90 percent. There is a reduction in electrical usage by up to 30 percent in comparison to the conventional modes of printing. This methodology has proved to be more sustainable compared to conventional screen printing because it cuts almost half of the wasted fabrics.
Methods are continuously involving customers in designs. Brands such as Indichino and eShakti have been successful because of inculcating customers into the design of fabrics. The models are more personalised and cost-effective.
What is the best fabric print in your opinion?
The visible fabric print in the world is digital fabric printing. It is the most advanced form of fabric printing in the world and solves many problems present in the traditional printing method. “Digital textile printing enables printing on a large number of materials. Digital printers can be used for printing on silk fabric, polyester, viscose and numerous other organic materials like cotton, wool and linen,” Spgprints. Digital is faster and effective.
There is no shortage of color choices with the digital print. It is also better on lighter fabrics like cotton and nylon. The accuracy of digital is also higher compared to other printing methods, and designs of every type are possible with it. In my opinion, digital fabric print is the best fabric print in the market.
Digital printing is an industry that is growing steadily and will soon dominate the fashion industry. Mark Radona, the head of Strategic Marketing at Epson America Inc. said that, “Digital printing technology has changed every industry it has touched, and now it is revolutionizing the fashion industry by offering fashion designers amazing new ways to produce their designs on a range of fabrics.”
Digital fabric printing has far more benefits that the traditional method of printing fabric.