Getting the best out of Digital Textile Printing

An introduction to some of the difficulties involved in Digital Textile Printing
Understanding Digital Textile Printing

multi patternWith over 30 years of dedicated experience in the industry we are now expert in the field of digital textile printing. The knowledge of our skilled workforce enable us to get the best out of our textile printers, the inks and the post-print processes involved. 

When dealing with a natural product it is inevitable that there will be unavoidable issues that occur during the printing process. Issues which may cause a customer to question the final print . We’d like to take you through a few of these so that you too can get the most out of digital textile printing with your artwork and our expertise. 

Here at the Silk Bureau we always buy AA grade fabrics, not only is this quality necessary for our digital printers but also so that we can provide a superior product to our customers.

Even with this excellent quality, we will expect to see a number of anomalies within each roll. There may be loose threads, ‘slubs’, colour variations or even a slight difference in weave. These should not be seen as faults, but as characteristics of a natural product.

 

Best Designs

Take a tip from us.

To get the best from your printing we recommend that your artwork is multi-patterned and multi-coloured.

Multi – pattern

A busy pattern is best suited to digital textile printing as it makes it very difficult to spot an anomaly.

Multi – colour

Lots of colours in your design, replicate beautifully with digital print and hides any colour variation. 

 

Block Colour

It’s a No!

Printing block colour is particularly troublesome for many reasons. We recommend that you don’t risk it.

Ink Nozzles

1

During the weaving of the fabric there will be areas where the threads have been joined across the weft and warp. These may result in loose threads or ‘slubs’ in the surface of the fabric. Although they may not be noticeable when they are being printed, after processing the loose thread or ‘slub’ may move to reveal the base colour of the fabric. It will look obvious and appear as a clear patch in your print. see Loose Thread & Slubs Examples.

2

To print your artwork, the ink canister crosses backwards and forwards across the fabric at least 6 times, laying down a band of ink. It is necessary to apply the ink in these layers to avoid over flooding the fabric. It also helps to push the colour into the fibres and increases the sharpness of the design. It’s the best way to see the detail in your artwork. However, it may also show up as lines in areas of block colour. see Banding Examples.

3

Imagine an area of white or block colour with a tiny ‘pin head’ sized red ink spot. What are you going to focus on?  Your eye will immediately be drawn to any anomaly on an open plain expanse of colour. see Ink Spot Examples.

 

Geometric Shapes

Tricky.

Printer Setup

 Printing straight lines along the weft of the fabric is difficult to achieve. Our experienced team of printers make every effort to get the fabric as straight as possible on the printer beds but the flexible nature of woven fabric makes a 90º angle a virtual impossibility. 

Because of the flexibility of the weave, when the fabric is removed from the printer bed, a wave may be evident in any straight lines within the artwork. see Examples.

weft warp

 

Examples

INK SPOTS

These can easily happen if a loose thread catches the bottom of an ink nozzle.

Even the tiniest of ink spots will look obvious in an area of block colour.

ink spots
BANDING

The printer heads pass back and forth across the fabric laying down ink in bands. There will be several layers of ink applied before 100% of the image will be printed.

Block colour will emphasis the printing process and show as lines within the expanse of plain colour.

banding
LOOSE THREADS

A natural occurrence in woven fabric. There will be several joins within the length of a roll of fabric. The ends from these joins may become loose during the weaving process. 

After the ink has been applied the loose thread has moved revealing the base colour of the fabric.

Loose threads

 

WAVY LINE

The flexible weave of the fabric will be more evident when printing straight lines. This is particularly evident when the line occurs across the width (weft) of the fabric. If you do have any straight lines try and deign them on the vertical axis (warp). 

wavy border
THREAD ROTATION

Threads are created by twisting fibres together. When the thread is cut or sewn there is a risk that the thread will rotate within the weave and reveal the paler reverse side of the print. A dark block colour will emphasis this.

Always use sharp, ultra fine needles when sewing your garments and always use sharp fabric scissors when cutting the fabric. 

thread rotation
SLUBS

Slubs are visible knots and will be seen as thicker, raised threads on the fabric surface. A thread is created by twisting fibre together. As nature does not create perfectly even fibres the slubs appear as the resulting uneven threads are woven. 

When lifting a slub, the base colour of the fabric will be visible.

slubs
LINT

An accumulation of textile fibres is particularly common, especially on a cotton fabric. We use special lint filters to remove these excess fibres however it is likely that some will still be present when printing. After wiping away the lint, the base colour of the fabric will show.

lint
WATER MARKS

In order to ‘fix’ the inks, printed fabric must pass through a steaming process. It is at this vulnerable stage that any water droplets from the steamer may fall on the fabric and disperse the ink. 

Even the tiniest of water marks will be emphasised in areas of block colour.

WATER MARKS

DISCLAIMER

Any irregularities and variations in the weave of the fabrics are in no way to be considered as defects. They are a characteristic of the natural fibre.

The shade of the fabric may vary from roll to roll and is a circumstance beyond our control, so please ensure you order enough fabric to meet your needs.

The Silk Bureau Ltd will always endeavour to provide printed fabrics of the highest quality but cannot be held responsible for any quality issues arising from the unsuitability of fabrics selected by the client with certain artwork design types.

Digital printing is best suited to multi patterned, multi coloured designs. In large areas of block colour or white, there is both a risk of ink spots during printing, lining or ‘mark back’ onto the plain areas during the processing stage.

Full Terms and Conditions can be found on our website. www.silkbureau.co.uk

Confirm your understanding

If you still wish to proceed with printing files with areas of block or white colour, it will be at your own risk.  Our team will require confirmation from you that you are aware of the risks and would still like us to proceed on the understanding that we will be unable to offer any reprints if the issues described do occur.