How to Color On Fabric

There is nothing more beautiful than a colorfully printed fabric lying on the table. The creation and printing of beautiful designs and patterns on different fabric material is called textile printing.

It consumes time, energy and cost in hand drawing the patterns and designs. Also, it is difficult to achieve perfection in repeating same designs on the fabrics by hand. Textile printing is an ancient art and it has an evidential history throughout the world. With the time, textile printing technique has gone through an evolution from hand printing to automatic digital printing. Today in this blog, we are going to share amazing traditional and modern techniques of textile printing that are still in use.

There are three common process in textile printing. They are direct printing, discharge printing and resist printing.

• The process in which printing is directly done on the fabric with color dyes and chemicals is called direct printing.

• Discharge printing means removal of specific colors from the printed fabric and applying the suitable chemicals.

• By using a resist paste on the colored fabric, the dyeing will only appear on the areas where resist adhesive is not affected. This process is called resist printing.

So, that was about the primary process of printing. Now we are going to take a closer look at the traditional and modern methods of coloring the fabric.

1.     Block Printing

Block printing is the oldest technique, which started back in Egypt or Persia. Many also believe that the art of block printing developed in East Asia, and later it spread further into the European Countries.

The block printing was first performed on calico, linen and of course wool. Moreover, the red dyed cotton of turkey was used in the block printing. On a block of wood, a required designed is hand carved and would be used in forming the patterns.

Different blocks are used depending on designs, colors and size of print. To give special effects and details like birds or flowers, copper strips are hammered into the blocks. The blocks use pitch pins to ensure that the color applied to the fabric was accurate.

The ink paste is applied on the block and then pressed on the cloth tightly. Each block is lined up and repeated in a unique manner so that the fabric looks beautiful in one large continuous design.

2. Roller Printing

Roller printing is also known as cylinder printing or rotary machine printing. It’s the most common textile printing method practiced throughout the world since mid of 19th century.

The method involves fabric passing through the cylinders that keep on rotating and then it is pressed into the rollers. Carved with intricate and delicate designs, the rollers leave an impression on the textile along with the different colors.

Roller printing improved and thereby started producing fabrics with brighter and lively colors. The process also became quicker as it allows ample amount of clothing prints in one day. Later on, the dyed fabrics were passed through steaming washing and drying process to let the color instill in the textile.

3. Digital Printing

The advancement of technology is evolving every day. So as the textile industry progressing that result in the digital printing. It is all about using the technology in the desired print on the material.

It’s cost effective, unique, and very quick. The printing agencies use the computer to acquire prints on the cloth. What’s more is you can use any fabric to get the designs on. From polyester, linen, cotton, silk, rayon, blends and so many more options available.

Digital printing uses inkjet technology. It is a bit expensive, but the result of the printing is fabulous. The heat press or the tunnel dryer helps in drying the dye on the cloth. Digital printing uses acid, reactive or pigment base inks. Acid and reactive inks are used for natural and man-made fibers and printed fabric requires steaming, washing and drying process. This required tremendous amount of water, steam and energy and generate effluent water. Pigment base inks are eco-friendly and can be used to print on knit and woven cotton, linen, rayon, silk, polyester, nylon, blends. It doesn’t require steaming and washing process so is very cost effective and environment friendly.

Overall, you get a superior quality of garment in the digital printing.

4. Screen Printing    

Screen Printing is one of the most popular ways for textile printing. The t-shirts you sometimes find on the high street are printed with screen-printing process. It is a process of direct fabric printing in which films, mesh, and screens are used to form designs on the fabric.

Flatbed screen-printing and rotary screen-printing are two types of screen-printing.  Former turns out to be expensive while the later is used on a large scale in the textile industry.

A screen is created by the piece of mesh that is stretched over the frame. Later the patterns are formed by blocking some parts of the screen. With the help of mesh, the ink is pushed on the textile that is underneath the screen.

This kind of printing requires one color per screen that might lead to higher costs.

Through screen-printing, you will also get high quality of design that will last for a long time. For those who run a business of clothing and wish to have the same design to be printed on many clothes – screen printing is perfect.

5. Spray Printing

The name itself suggests that spray printing is done through the sprayers. It will help in spreading the color on the textile. A spray gun is an essential equipment via which you can perform spray painting. Additionally, there different nozzles of sprayers that one can try in getting the desired look.

6. Sublimation Transfer Printing

For sublimation transfer printing you need will inkjet or color laser printer, sublimation ink and heat press machine that will help you in transferring sublimation dye on the fabric.

This method is costlier than all the above-mentioned methods, but the results you will get in return are full of exuberance and beautiful.

The drawback of sublimation transfer printing is you cannot get the designs on cotton fabric. The ones that go well with this kind of printing is polyester and synthetic.

Another benefit of sublime printing is they are durable and lasts for a long time. But the color might fade away if it is kept or wear too often in sun exposure.

7. Stencil Printing

The name itself suggests that the use of stencils cut in the shape of patterns is used in stencil printing. These stencils are made from Metal, wood, plastic, and paper. Then the dye is applied to the spaces cut from the inside of the stencil. It’s a secure method of printing which can easily be performed by a kid. The disadvantage of this method is it takes extensive time to print. Hence, one can make it for domestic use or just for fun.

8. Thermal Transfer Printing

One of the most inexpensive methods of cloth printing is the thermal transfer printing. It utilizes a printing machine and hot press machine which transfers designs on to the fabric.

Firstly, in this process, the printing is on paper, then transferred to the fabric, and then the designed fabric goes to the hot rollers. In this method, the color might fade away after the first wash. But because of its clear-cut and beautiful designs, many agencies use thermal transfer printing.

Colors always brighten up our mood. And what’s even more interesting is a different kind of methods in coloring. Since ancient times, there have been various methods of coloring the fabric. Out of which there are few methods still in usage. In this blog, we have covered different ways used in the textile industry of coloring the cloth. Do let us know about your thoughts on the blog in the comment section!

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