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Digital textile printing – a step into future

Digital textile printing has awakened the masses to have a thorough exposure to the variety of fabrics. People can now see a wide colour gamut for the designs that they have been looking for. These developments indicate that interest in digital textile printing is taking-off in a big way. Vikram Bhatia, MD, Apsom Technologies (India) Pvt Ltd throws more light on this sunrising technology.
 In the recent years digital textile printing has taken a massive step forward in the printhead and ink combinations, which has made direct printing available on various kinds of textile substrates. The technology has made it possible to get photo-realistic images and given an opportunity to explore art works thereby producing a perfect blend of graphical designs on variety of fabrics. Instant proofing and sampling is possible due to the ease generated by the computerized alterations. There are no volume restrictions as even a single meter of cloth can be printed at a time thus maintaining exclusivity of design.

The applications include: printing on sarees, fashionable dresses, architectural interior, decorative fabric, sportswear, swimwear and many more that can benefit from new technology of digital printing.

The high speed jetting of inks on textile substrates is crucial in attaining successful printing. There are various innovative inks that are available. Variants in the ink (brands) that are commonly used for better printing which thereby maintain the head durability include Huntsman; DuPont; DyStar; Clariant; and BASF.

The basic make-up of inkjet inks is de-ionized water as the solvent, isopropyl alcohol or glycol as the drying agent, and dye-stuff as base to provide the colour. These materials as well as proprietary ingredients are mixed in various proportions to form ink jet inks. Depending on the printer speed, print head design and colour capabilities, the actual proportion of ingredients will vary. There are two major categories of ink in digital textile printing – dyes and pigments.

Dyes when dispersed, penetrate into the material on which they are printed and the small molecules tend to interact with light faster. And pigment inks do not require a solvent to dissolve colorant. As pigments are insoluble in any medium they are used in suspensions which form a thin layer on the substrate. Due to this the pigment particles tends to flow less well than dye based inks.

Depending upon the material to be printed or the printing method to be employed, the ink properties satisfy certain criteria, such as required invariability of ink, high degree of endurance optical density, etc. In order to meet these specifications, pigmented inks are being employed in increasing measure for improvement of print quality. Pigmented inks on the basis of high-boiling aliphatic hydrocarbons are less likely to clog the inkjet nozzles, since they do not dry up in the nozzle area during stops in printing. Turning off the printer with a switched power strip prevents this from happening and also prevents the possible clogs.

There are different types of inks available in dye and pigment which are based upon their usage. The dyes include reactive dyes, acid dyes and sublimation dyes. And pigments are used to print on normal cotton and cotton/poly blend directly. It prints on all types of fabric from synthetic blends to natural fibers.

“Better Late than Never”. It was then realized that India being a hub of textiles, was not righteously explored to the new technologies available in Western and European region. Though this technology was available in India for couple of years with select group of organisations, but now Apsom Technologies is going to make this technology available for masses with its class products having variety of range application-wise.

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