How it works

Follow the fabric as it passes through each of the digital print process

Discover how to digitally print textiles

The Fabric Journey

When you place an order with The Silk Bureau Ltd our specialist textile print team take meticulous care at every stage of the printing process. 

The digital printing service we provide is an intensive process. By the time you have placed your order the preparation of the fabric has already gone through several important processes. 

Pressing the print button is the easy bit! To many, all the pre-preparation of fabric and files and the post-print fixing of inks and fabric handling is largely unknown.

If you’d like to know more about how we print your fabric follow the fabric journey below. Descriptions of each stage and short video clips will take you on a virtual tour of our factory.

You’ll also get to see some of our team in action. Enjoy!

01

Batching

We have trusted suppliers of our fabrics, who know exactly the quality that we demand. Always remembering that a natural fabric, such as silk, will differ slightly from roll to roll they know that we insist on AA grade quality. As the raw fabric arrives it is rolled for optimum efficiency into large batches ready for the next step.

02

Coating

All natural fabrics need to be coated to enable digital printing. Silk and wool fabrics are acid coated allowing the dyes to be absorbed into the fabric when steamed. Cotton and viscose fabrics have an alkaline coating that causes a chemical reaction with the inks. Each unique blend of agents ensure optimum ink adhesion.

coating 2

03

De-Batching

Once coated the fabrics need to be separated out into manageable rolls for loading onto the printers.

04

CAD

Here is where your order joins in the process. When you upload your artwork through our website it arrives in our CAD department. Our CAD team check your digital artwork and prepare it for print using our specialist software.

05

Print

The fabric is rolled onto the printer's adhesive flat bed for printing with our best quality dyes. For polyester sublimation the image is first printed onto a special paper and then heat transferred onto the fabric. We use acid, reactive or dispersive dyes in our printing depending on the fabric.

06

Streamer

This step in the process fixes the dyes to the fabrics by transferring the colour into the physical structure of each thread within the cloth. With required temperatures of 102ºC, each metre of fabric can take approximately 45mins to complete the journey from one end to the other.

07

Washer / dryer

Our relaxed open width washer dryer ensures that any surplus dyes are removed and the fabric is then propelled through a warm air drying process.

Play Video

08

Quality Control

Quality control examine each fabric order, spotting any defects that may have occurred in the printing process. Any defects found are sent back to the printing stage if required.

qc

09

Finishing

At this stage, if you have chosen to have one of our in-house finishing services, the printed fabric will be handed over to our expert seamstresses.
Once they have completed the finish, the product is inspected again, ironed, packed and sent to Despatch.

10

Despatch

Once your fabric passes the final quality control stage it is packed and despatched using a courier service for next day delivery.

Coating our raw fabrics
Washer Dryer
Heading into the dryer
Sublimation printing
Drying
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Printing Scarves

Shrinkage

The processes involved in digital textile printing causes the original fabric to shrink. If you are printing scarves, the size of the finished product will be important to you. For example, if you have square artwork, you will be expecting your finished scarf to be square!

To get the printed fabric closer to the size you need, all fabric intended for scarves must go through an extra step to reshape it. Please allow extra time on your deadlines to allow for this process. 

Let us introduce you to the …

Stenter

The stenter is an enormous piece of machinery that has many uses, including coating our fabrics and reshaping scarf orders.

After travelling through a solution to soften the fabric, it then passes over a flat bed, gripped on the selvedge edges to pull it back into shape. 

It’s a long and precise process that needs to be carefully monitored.

Shrinkage Disclaimer

If you have selected to use our hemming service, we will check the stentered fabric for you before we begin to finish your scarves. If you are not using our service, it’s up to you to check the size BEFORE you cut out the individual scarves from the fabric length. We cannot re-size after your scarves have been cut out.