Various ink Chemistry suitable for various Fiber Types
The first fundamental element of fabric printing is to understand the chemistry in the process. First off, there is no silver bullet. There is no single ink type that will adequately print to all fiber types in a simple, one step process. It’s unfortunate, but this is the reality and it means we must understand how different types of fibers interact with the available ink choices.
Currently, the available inkjet inks for fabric printing include:
1. Reactive dyes
2. Acid dyes
3. Disperse dyes
4. Textile pigments
Each ink has specific fiber types to which it will properly bond. Reactive dyes and textile pigments are commonly used for natural fibers like cotton. Disperse dyes (dye-sub inks) are reserved for polyester, while acid dyes work well with nylon and silk.
Each of the dyes requires the fabric to have a special inkjet-receptive coating to control dot gain and helps to ensure proper fixation. Many fabrics can be purchased with the coating already applied. Also, there are select sources that will apply the coating (as a service) to a fabric that you provide. Lastly, for high production scenarios, purchasing your own coating machine may be the best option.
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