Digital Printing

Digital printing techniques for natural fiber fabrics

The textile industry heavily relies on synthetic fibers and harsh printing techniques that utilize harmful chemicals and consume significant resources. This poses a significant threat to the environment, human health, and the sustainability of the industry.

Natural fiber-made textiles, such as cotton, linen, and hemp, are gaining popularity due to their eco-friendly and sustainable attributes. However, existing printing techniques for natural fibers often lack the vibrancy, precision, and durability achieved with synthetic fibers.

Recently, several innovations in printing on natural fiber-made textiles have emerged throughout the industry. This innovative method allows for the precise printing of colorful and complex designs on fabric with high precision.

Various Digital Printing Techniques on Natural Fiber made fabric

Pigment printing

Pigment printing involves the use of predominantly synthetic organic materials. The purpose of pigment printing is to create appealing designs by applying a pigment paste onto the surface of the fabric. These pigments exist in a particle state, with an optimal particle size range typically falling between 0.1 and 3 microns. The process of pigment printing utilizes a binder system since pigments inherently lack an affinity for cotton fabric, necessitating the use of a binder during the printing process.

Flow chart of pigment printing:

Paste preparation → Table preparation/ Machine preparation → Fabric plaited on the table → Pigment printing paste apply with the help of screen → Curing at 150 ºc (belt speed 5 m/min)

Discharge printing

Fig: Discharge Printing

Discharge printing involves the removal of specific colored areas through the application of another color or the use of a bleaching agent. In this printing technique, color is eliminated by one or multiple colors, resulting in the chemical removal of pigments from the fabric. Subsequently, these pigments are replaced by another color. It is essential that the dyes used in the dyed fabrics are dischargeable during the printing process for effective implementation.

Flow chart of discharge printing :

Paste preparation (White paste/ Color paste) → Table preparation/ Machine preparation → Fabric plaited on the table → Pigment printing paste apply with the help of screen → Curing at 150 ºc – 180 ºc (belt speed 5 m/min)

Rubber Printing

Figure : Rubber printing

A widely used and adaptable substance employed for garment printing because of its effective adherence to fabric is a common and versatile material. It can be applied to a variety of fabric types, both in light and dark hues. The texture is perceived as thick and resilient. To apply this print to elastic material, a distinct rubber formulation must be developed.

Flow chart of discharge printing :

Table preparation → Fabric plaited on the table → Rubber printing paste apply with the help of screen → Curing at 150ºc (Belt speed 5 m/min) → Delivery

Plastisol printing

Plastisol printing offers the advantage of being able to remain in the screen for prolonged durations without causing mesh clogging. It is typically ready for use directly from the container in more than 90% of instances. This printing method often allows for wet-on-wet printing in various applications, leading to enhanced production speeds. Plastisol formulations are available for printing on both light and dark-colored fabrics. Additionally, disposing of waste plastisol is a straightforward process in most municipalities.

Plastisol Printing Process :

Printing paste preparation → Table preparation → Fabric plaited on the table → High-density paste apply by screen → Curing at 150ºc (belt speed 5m/min) → Delivery

Figure: Plastisol printing

Process printing

Figure: Four-color process printing

Process printing, also referred to as four-color process printing, is a technique designed to replicate completed full-color artwork and photographs. The process employs three primary translucent colors: cyan (process blue), magenta (process red), and yellow. These colors are combined to simulate a wide range of hues. The “K” in CMYK represents black, which is specifically utilized for producing intricate details and robust shadows in the printed material.

Process printing flow chart

Paste preparation → Table preparation → Fabric plaited on the table → Printing paste is applied through 4 different screens on the fabric → Curing at 150ºc (belt speed 5m/min) → Delivery

Foil printing

Figure: Foil printing

Foil printing is a sublimation transfer printing technique conducted with the assistance of paper. The foil paper used in this process is customized to a solid color based on the buyer’s specifications. Printing takes place under high temperature and pressure conditions. Through this printing method, both man-made and natural fabric types can be effectively printed.

Foil printing flow chart

Fabric plaited on the table → Foil gun / Foil paste (Gum)apply by screen → Dry slightly in air temp / Hand dryer → Apply foil paper on the fabric → Heat apply by heat press m/c 150 ºc for 5 sec) → Cooling for 4 sec → Foil paper removed by hand → Delivery

Flock printing

Figure: Flock printing

Flock printing involves the application of diverse flocks onto the fabric surface, where flocks refer to finely cut natural or synthetic fibers. These flocks are deposited on a surface coated with adhesive to add decorative or functional characteristics to the fabric’s surface. Wooden table is used for flock printing.

Flock printing process flow

Fabric plaited on the table → Apply flock paste with the help of screen → Flock powder apply with the help of flock gun → Manually dry by hanging for 30min → Curing at 180ºc (belt speed 3m/min) → Delivery → Brushing → Delivery

Emboss printing

Figure: Emboss / Puff Printing

Emboss printing is less commonly used compared to pigment printing, foil printing, flock printing, or other dye printing methods. It is specifically employed for creating logos or other decorative purposes. In this printing process, the design is achieved by embossing the printing paste onto textile materials.

Flow of puff printing

Paste preparation with puff chemical → Table preparation → Fabric plaited on the table → Apply printing paste by screen (3 times) → Hanging f or 15min → Curing at 150 ºc (belt speed 3m/min) → Delivery

Crack printing

Crack printing is a technique employed to create appealing designs on fabric surfaces. In this method, rubber serves as the printing paste, resembling the process of rubber printing. However, in crack printing, an additional crack paste is applied by the screen printer before the application of the rubber printing paste on cotton fabric.

Crack printing flow

Print paste preparation with cracking chemical → Crack paste/clear apply with the help of screen → Dry in air temp or hand dryer m/c (slight) → Printing paste apply with the help of screen → Curing at 150ºc (belt speed 2 m/min) → Delivery


Figure: High Density Printing

High-density printing involves applying a greater number of strokes to increase the thickness of the printed area during the printing process. There are two types of high-density printing: Rubber base high density and Plastisol base high density.

Process flow

High density printing flow → Paste preparation → Table preparation → Fabric plaited on the table → Printing paste is applied through screen on the fabric & stroke repeatedly till the design is produced → Curing at 150ºc (belt speed 5m/min) → Delivery

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