Textile printing is the process of applying colour to fabric in definite patterns or designs. In properly printed fabrics the colour is bonded with the fibre, so as to resist washing and friction. Textile printing is related to dyeing but in dyeing properly the whole fabric is uniformly covered with one colour, whereas in printing one or more colours are applied to it in certain parts only, and in sharply defined patterns.
In printing, wooden blocks, stencils, engraved plates, rollers, or silk-screens can be used to place colours on the fabric. Colourants used in printing contain dyes thickened to prevent the color from spreading by capillary attraction beyond the limits of the pattern or design.
Digital textile printing
Digital textile printing is often referred to as direct-to-garment printing, DTG printing, or digital garment printing. It is a process of printing on textiles and garments using specialized or modified inkjet technology. Inkjet printing on fabric is also possible with an inkjet printer by using fabric sheets with a removable paper backing. Today, major inkjet technology manufacturers can offer specialized products designed for direct printing on textiles, not only for sampling but also for bulk production. Since the early 1990s, inkjet technology and specially developed water-based ink (known as dye-sublimation or disperse direct ink) have made it possible to print directly onto polyester fabric. This is mainly related to visual communication in retail and brand promotion (flags, banners and other point of sales applications). Printing onto nylon and silk can be done by using an acid ink. Reactive ink is used for cellulose based fibers such as cotton and linen. Inkjet technology in digital textile printing allows for single pieces, mid-run production and even long-run alternatives to screen printed fabric.
Textile printing involves the production of a predetermined coloured pattern on a fabric, usually with a definite repeat. It can be described as a localised form of dyeing, applying colorant to selected areas of the fabric to build up the design. Textile Printing, like Textile dyeing, is a process for applying color to a substrate. However, instead of coloring the whole substrate (cloth, carpet or yarn) as in dyeing, print color is applied only to defined areas to obtain the desired pattern. This involves different techniques and different machinery with respect to dyeing, but the physical and chemical processes that take place between the dye and the fiber are analogous to dyeing.