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Fabric Printing & Types of Printing

I am a writer with special expertise in textiles, fabrics, printing, and dyeing.

Find out more about the world of fabric printing, and the different kinds of printing possible.

Find out more about the world of fabric printing, and the different kinds of printing possible.

What Is Fabric Printing?

The application of color in a predetermined pattern (design) on the fabric's surface using various techniques and methods is called printing.

It can take place before the construction of fabric on the yarns, after the fabric is constructed, or even on the completion of garments. Printing is done using print pastes, which contain a combination of dyestuffs depending on the type and the method of printing, and the design of the print.

Techniques of Printing

Techniques of printing are approaches through which printing is carried out. These are the basic principles of printing. There are four basic techniques of printing:

  1. Direct Printing
  2. Discharge Printing
  3. Resist Printing
  4. Transfer Printing

Direct Printing

The color is directly applied to the fabric's surface. This technique is also called overprinting when the print paste's color is darker than the fabric's surface color.

Discharge Printing

In this technique, the print paste is applied to the design area on a pre-dyed fabric. The print paste removes the dye on the fabric, either completely to give a white color (white discharge) or leave a separate color (color discharge) on the previously dyed fabric.

Resist Printing

Opposite to the discharge printing technique, this technique involves the application of a resist paste on the fabric. The fabric is then dyed. The area where the paste has been applied blocks the penetration of dye onto the surface of the fabric, leaving the design in a different color.

Transfer Printing

In this technique, the design is printed onto the surface of a special paper first and then transferred onto the fabric with the use of a heated calendar.

Methods of Printing

Methods of printing include technology (equipment) used to print on the fabric. The various methods of printing include:

  1. Block Printing
  2. Blotch Printing
  3. Burn-out Printing
  4. Flock Printing
  5. Roller Printing
  6. Screen Printing
  7. Warp Printing
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Block Printing

Conventionally done by hand, this method involves the use of wooden blocks to print onto the surface. The design that needs to be printed is carved onto the wooden block. The printed paste is applied to the wooden block stamps and the wooden blocks are then placed onto the fabric to transfer the design.

Blotch Printing

This method uses the direct technique of printing. Both the background and the design are printed onto the fabric rather than first dyeing the fabric and then printing the design onto it.

Burn-Out Printing

In this method, certain chemicals are used to react with the fibers of the fabric. When the chemical reacts, the fibers dissolve to leave behind a specific design on the fabric. This method is used to produce open-work kind of fabrics, such as those with eyelets.

Flock Printing

In flock printing, a special adhesive or electrostatic charge is used to fix fibers (flocks) to the surface of the fabric, creating a special raised effect.

Flock printing

Flock printing

Roller Printing

In this method, the design to be printed is transferred onto the fabric using engraved rollers. There is a separate roller for every color of the design that needs to be printed. The rollers dispense the dyes onto the surface of the fabric.

Screen Printing

As the name suggests, in this method of printing, screens are used to print on the fabric. The mesh on the screens is coated with a special substance on the areas where the design or the print is not required. The special substance, usually made out of a polymer, prevents the color from penetrating on the fabric. The color penetrated through the mesh area which is not covered, leaving behind the design.

There are three main types of screen printing:

  1. Manual Screen Printing
  2. Flat Screen Printing
  3. Rotary Screen Printing

Manual Screen Printing

The fabric is placed on the table and the screen is manually placed on the fabric to print. The print paste is poured onto the screen. Using a squeegee, the paste is forced through the areas of the mesh which have not been blocked. This creates the design on the fabric.

Flat Screen Printing

In this method of printing, both the screen and fabric are in motion. The fabric moves on a conveyor, which moves over the printing table. The fabric stops, the screen is placed on the fabric, and using a squeegee, the printing is carried out. The screen moves upwards, and the fabric moves further. The cycle continues until the entire fabric is printed.

Rotary Screen Printing

The screen in this method of printing is in a cylindrical form which moves continuously with the fabric. The print paste is dispensed through the cylinders, and the design is printed on the fabric.

Warp Printing

The design is printed on the sheet of the warp yarns before weaving of the fabric takes place. The weft yarns are then interlaced with the warp yarns to reveal the final design on the fabric.

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