Printing on Fabrics

The demand to see design and colour on a piece of fabric has existed for thousands of years.  It is however only in the last 15-20 years that technical advances in printing on fabrics have moved forward at a pace probably never seen before.  Business and domestic needs to improve the options for printing on fabrics have driven this recent change.

For many years the prime need for printing on fabrics was for clothing and then for home décor.  But now businesses of all sizes recognise the need to be seen by their customers as frequently as possible. The power of advertising has never been so strong, with the desire to raise awareness and improve sales by promoting companies, brands and products at every available opportunity and in the most creative and varied ways possible. Business in particular has demanded that the choices should now exist to use as many different types of media as possible so as to keep their promotions fresh and interesting.

Fabrics are now seen as the ideal media and most major print machine manufacturers have recognised this by ensuring they have compatible machinery and inks in their range.  Fabrics can be used indoors or outdoors in a myriad of applications and can generally be supplied from stock in FR grade to the major UK & European fire standards.  They are widely recognised as having far ‘greener’ credentials than PVC or meshes.

The options for different methods of printing on fabrics has seen dye-sublimation, UV and more recently Latex printing technology come to the fore with rich, bright, vibrant colours being achieved using all of these methods.

From a fabric suppliers perspective it has meant the need to produce a wide range of textiles that are suitable for all popular print technologies and will perform consistently.  Direct printing on fabrics has also meant the need to introduce pre-treatments such as Brook7 that control ink and promote strong colours.  Here also technology plays its part and just as with the inks the pre-treatments require continuous research and improvement.

Article by Chris Drury

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