Digital printing on fabric, or the process of printing digital images on fabric, is known as digital textile printing.
The process is very simple and it is less time consuming than other textile printing methods. In fact, one of the greatest advantages of digital printing is that it’s a much faster process when compared to the conventional methods of printing.
Given the potential benefits of implementing the use of digital textile printing, it’s worth it to learn about the process and how it may be used by print shops.
Steps Involved in Digital Textile Printing
Different methods of digital printing like sublimation printing and direct digital printing involve different steps. Here are the steps involved in direct digital printing, which is one of the most common methods used by print shops.
As mentioned above, pretreatment is one of the most important steps involved in digital textile printing, and it plays a big role in ensuring quality. In this step, a specific coating is applied to the fabric before printing, which is also known as padding.
2. Create a Design
The next step in digital textile printing is the creation of the design or pattern that needs to be printed on the fabric. Creating the design is very easy, and it can be done on a computer.
If there is some mistake in the design, it can easily be corrected on the computer, and this saves a lot of time. Also, the design can be created from any location, and the file can be transmitted to the computer.
The next step involved in the process is printing. In this step, the fabric is placed on the printing belt, and it gets printed. The design that has been created for the fabric gets printed on it. But this isn’t the last step of the process, as some things need to be taken care of after printing the fabric.
Once the design is printed on the fabric, it needs to be dried. In this step, a heater is used to dry the fabric. After the completion of this step, the fabric gets ready for the final step, post treatment.
5. Post Treatment
This is the last step involved in direct digital printing, and it is an important one as well. In this step, the printed fabric goes through steaming, washing, drying, and ironing. The duration of these steps may vary for different types of fabrics, and the length of the fabric will also be an important factor here.
So, these are the steps involved in direct digital printing.
The process of digital printing may look complex, but it takes lesser time as compared to the conventional methods of printing.
Now that you know about the steps involved in digital textile printing, let’s have a look at the types of inks that are used.
Types of Inks
Different types of inks are used for different types of fabrics to bring in more quality. If the right kind of ink is used while printing the fabric, it will do well when it comes to resisting fade. These are the types of inks that are commonly used in digital fabric printing.
1. Direct-Disperse Inks
Disperse inks are used for printing polyester fabrics, as these are best suited for these fabrics. These inks become a part of the textile by dyeing the fibers of the fabric, but it is important to heat the printed fabric.
2. Reactive Ink
Reactive inks are ideal for printing linen, cotton, and some plant derived fibers. Post treatment is very important in this case to ensure quality. It is very important to steam the printed textile to fix the ink. They must be washed as well to remove any residues.
3. Acid Dyes
Acid dyes are designed for pre-treated nylon, wool, and silk fabrics. A post-treatment process is required here, and the printed textiles must be steamed and washed.
4. Textile Pigment Inks
Pigment inks use a pigment to provide coloration, and they adhere to the surface of the fabrics. They also need post-treatment, and a rotary heat calendar is commonly used to fix the pigments to the fabric.
These are the types of inks that are commonly used in digital textile printing.
As mentioned above, different types of inks are used for different types of fabrics, and the right combination of inks, pre-treatment, and post-treatment can bring in the desired quality.
Just like different types of inks, different types of printers are used in digital textile printing. Digital fabric printing equipment prints on rolls of fabrics, which are cut after getting printed, and they are sewn into a variety of products.
Types of Digital Textile Printers
1. Multi-pass Direct-to-textile Printers
These types of printers are commonly used in digital textile printing, and they have a lot to offer. They use clusters of moving printheads that travel back and forth across the surface.
The benefits of multi-pass printing include greater flexibility in the fabrics being used, and high quality prints. These printers are most useful for lower volume jobs than their single-pass counterparts.
1. Single-pass Textile Printers
These types of printers are also very commonly used, and they use stationary arrays of print heads to print the fabrics.
They can print the fabrics at a speed of up to 131 linear feet per minute. The benefits of using single-pass printing are the increase in speed of production, and the ability to complete larger volume jobs.
Here’s a video overview of a single-pass digital textile printer:
Advantages of Digital Textile Printing
Now that you know the basics of digital textile printing, let’s discuss some of its advantages.
The advancement in technology has revolutionized this field, and a lot of improvements have been made. It has become easier to produce more in less time, and this has helped companies to meet the market demands.
There are several advantages that digital printing has to offer, and here are some major ones:
1. High Resolution
This is one of the biggest advantages of digital printing, and you will be able to use unlimited color combinations.
Moreover, there is accuracy of color, and the print is also clean and tidy. Since digital printers are not limited to a maximum number of rotary screens, they bring in a lot of flexibility.
You will get what you see in the image, and this is a great thing. The print of the fabric will be exactly the same as you see in the image.
This is something that makes digital printing a reliable option, and this is the reason for its growing popularity.
2. Fast Sampling and Delivery
Another advantage of digital printing is that it is a fast process, and saves a lot of time.
If we compare the sampling time of conventional screen printing with digital printing, there are a lot of differences between them.
In conventional screen printing, each adjustment requires a new rotary screen, and this is something that slows down the entire process. Even if you need to make a small adjustment, you will need to invest some time there.
However, this isn’t the case with digital printers, as they make the process much simpler and faster. The designs can be made digitally and if there is a need for an adjustment, it can be done on the spot.
This reduces the sampling time, and the same is the case with delivery as well. Since you will need to invest less time in sampling, you will be able to produce at a much faster rate. This is one of the biggest advantages of digital printing over conventional screen printing.
3. Smaller minimum amount of fabric required
One of the biggest problems with conventional methods of printing is that they require a larger minimum amount of fabric to print.
But there is a lot of flexibility in the case of digital printing, and you can easily get smaller fabrics printed.
You can order even 1 meter of fabric in the case of digital printing, and this is something that would be very hard to achieve with conventional methods of printing.
Digital printing allows the printing of smaller fabrics, and the best thing is that it allows you to do it more efficiently.
4. Environmentally Friendly
Another advantage of digital printing over the conventional methods of printing is that the overall process is more environment-friendly.
Since the consumption of power and water is low in this case, digital printers prove to be an environment-friendly option.
Moreover, they use less ink, and this minimizes the wastage as well.
If we compare the waste produced in digital printing with that of the conventional methods of printing, there is a big difference between them. This is yet another reason why a lot of companies are relying on digital printing these days.
5. Variety of Designs and Colors
Different people have different tastes in fashion, and this is why it becomes important to produce a variety of options.
If a company produces a variety of options to choose from, customers will have the flexibility to choose the one they like most.
But if there are fewer options to choose from, it might affect the sales. This is where digital printing comes into play and makes things easier for print shops.
Using this technology, it is very easy to produce a variety of options when it comes to designs, images, and graphics.
Moreover, there is an unlimited variety of colors in the case of digital printing. This provides the customers with more choices.
However, this isn’t the case with conventional methods of printing, as it can be difficult to bring in the same level of flexibility there. Color options will be limited, and so will be the variety of designs.
Money is one of the biggest factors when we talk about fabric printing. Digital textile printing is more cost-effective compared to conventional methods of printing, which is one of its biggest advantages.
It uses less space than conventional rotary screen printing, and it can prove beneficial. Another great thing about digital textile printing is that it uses less ink and power, which makes the overall process more efficient.
As mentioned above, the wastage is also less in the case of digital fabric printing.
It also reduces the sample cost, and printing of smaller runs is much more cost-effective in this case.
If we look at all these factors, digital printing is a more cost-effective option. It also proves to be a better option when it comes to initial investment.
7. Requires Less Operational Space
Another great advantage of digital textile printing is that it requires less operational space.
The machines required for digital printing are not exceptionally huge. This means you won’t have to invest a lot in the space for the machines, which will prove to be beneficial in the initial stages.
Starting a business is easy this way, as you can start small, and expand with time as your business grows. This is an attractive benefit for small print business owners who want to start smaller and scale up as they go.
8. Sell on Demand
In earlier times, it used to take a lot of time to create a particular design or pattern and print it on the fabric, which used to slow down the overall process.
However, this isn’t the case with digital textile printing, as things have become much easier over time. Creating designs and patterns have become easier, and it saves a lot of time as well.
This allows companies to sell on demand as they can easily create the patterns and designs that are in trend.
9. Easy to Make Corrections
In digital textile printing, it is very easy to make corrections. Mistakes are bound to happen in the printing industry, but it is important to make corrections to keep your customers coming back.
In earlier times, it used to take a lot of time and resources to make corrections in the designs and patterns.
However, it is very easy to do so with the help of new technologies. It reduces human effort, and it also makes the overall process much faster.
Another great thing about digital printing is that the designers can customize the design and make corrections from any location.
They can transmit files from their computer, and the changes will be made. This is the kind of flexibility that digital printing has brought into the field.
These are some of the advantages of digital textile printing. If we look at these advantages, digital printing has revolutionized the field of fabric printing. It has made things easier for companies, and there’s no wonder for its rapid expansion across print companies.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is digital printing more expensive than screen printing?
If you have a high-volume order, screen printing may be more cost-effective compared to digital printing. However, digital printing will be more cost-effective if you are dealing with smaller orders.
So, when it comes to choosing a more cost-effective option between the two, the volume of orders has a big role to play.
2. Which fabrix is best for digital textile printing?
Synthetic fabrics are good options for digital printing. Nylon and polyester are some common ones among them, and are great for digital printing.
3. Is it possible to print digitally on cotton?
Yes, you can print on cotton, and reactive inks are a great option to use here. If quality is what you are looking for, you can rely on reactive inks.
4. Is digital printing better than screen printing?
When it comes to choosing one among these two, there are several factors that come into play.
Digital printing has a lot of advantages of its own, and it is widely preferred as well. It is very easy to make corrections in digital printing; however, it isn’t as easy in the case of screen printing.
Moreover, digital printing requires less operational space, which is another big advantage. If we look at these factors, digital printing is better than screen printing.
5. What are the steps involved in digital printing?
The following steps are involved in digital printing.
• Creation of a Design or Pattern
• Post Treatment
If you have read this article carefully, you might be clear about digital textile printing, and how it works. There are several advantages of digital printing over conventional methods of printing, and this is the reason why companies also prefer using this technology.
It has revolutionized the field of textile printing, and made the process much easier and simpler.
The process of fabric printing has become faster, and it has helped industries meet the growing demands of customers.
Digital fabric printing is also a great option for new businesses, as it requires less operational space. If you run a small print shop, you might also enjoy our article on print shop management software for small print shops.
All in all, the improvement in technology has proven to be beneficial for the textile industry.