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  • Writer's picturekanmani ravindran

All about fabric printing

All about fabric printing


Textile printing is a process in which textile is decorated by applying colour to the fabric in specified patterns and designs.

The colours are bonded with fibres when fabrics are printed properly, so that the print can stay intact in spite of washing and rubbing it. The history of fabric printing is evident through many discoveries.

Fabric printing originated back in the fourth century BC. The first common method of textile printing, that is woodblock printing, originated in China and this method has been discovered from 220 AD.


1:BLOCK PRINTING -Block printing is a technique in which carved wooden,metal,plastic, sponge or rubber blocks having desired colours filled in it are stamped on the fabric.

Block printing is often referred as "HAND BLOCKED" Or "HAND BLOCKED PRINTING".

It was developed in China during the T'ang dynasty (618-907)

*Best fabric for this technique - Cotton or Cotton linen.

*Advantages of block printing

1)More complicated designs can be created or built up by using differently engraved blocks.

2)Same block can be used several times.

3)Designs can be repeated as well as bright and colourful prints can be obtained.

*Disadvantages of block printing

1)A Lot of focus is required to make sure that the repetition of pattern is aligned.

2)It is not good and effective when it comes to stamping very fine designs.

3)The making of the block by carbon requires a lot of skill.

Credits - Bruno Martins

2:SCREEN PRINTING -in the process of screen printing a fabric is placed on a flat surface and a mesh screen is then placed on it and a stencilled design is transferred onto the fabric placed on the flat surface using ink or dye. A squeegee is moved across the screen to fill the open mesh pores so that the colour can be transferred through,printing the fabric.

It has been originated around AD221 in China

*Best fabric for this technique - Cotton and Cotton blend.

*Advantages of Screen printing

1)Screen printing is beneficial for mass production which leads to the cost of per design being less

2)Good quality prints are obtained which last longer

3)This printing technique is suitable for many types of material

*Disadvantages of screen printing

1)It's not an eco friendly method as a lot of water is used to clean the ink and screens

2)If a lot of ink is used,The design may end up looking as if it is raised from print material

3)This method is not cost effective for small-on demand orders.


3:FOIL PRINTING-as the name suggests,it is the method in which metallic paper that is foil is imprinted by the use of heat and pressure to create shiny designs or graphics.

Foil stamping became popular in 1950's when Ernest Oeser, who was a book binder, created the foil press.

*Best fabric for this technique - Viscose Lycra Rayon,Rayon linen,Rayon plain

*Advantages of foil printing

1)It results in giving the fabric a premium look

2)It looks attention grabbing due to its reflective property

*Disadvantages of foil printing

  1. foils of cheap quality show upward stretch which results in cracks in the metallic surface ruining the original print

4:ROLLER PRINTING-Roller printing is a method in which fabric moves around the roller (Roller is the machine through which roller printing is done).The printing equipment in this method is stable.

The metal roller contains a separate dye

It was invented by Thomas Bell of Scotland in 1783.

*Advantages of roller printing

1)Less time consuming

2)Most economical

3)It's a continuous method of printing

*Disadvantages of roller printing

1)Deep colours are not very effectively obtained as colour strength can be reduced upto 50%

2)The process of engraving the printing rollers can be expensive

3)One has to be careful because if the light colour is not applied before the dark ones,The traces of the proceeding colour will be carried forward into the next colour

5:STENCIL PRINTING-As the name suggests in this method a stencil is used by placing it on the fabric and applying paint on it.The stencil contains a beautiful pattern or design having empty spaces in it, when paint is applied on it having the fabric underneath. After the stencil is removed, a beautiful pattern or design gets created on the fabric.

It was first invented in China around 105 AD in which a paper based stencil was developed

*Best fabrics for this technique - Cotton, linen, silk (Basically fabrics made from natural fibre)

*Advantages of stencil printing

1)The stencil can be reused repeatedly

2)It is a very simple method which can be operated easily

3)Amazing graded colour effects of great variety can be obtained.

*Disadvantages of stencil printing

1)This process is induratious as it involves manual work

2)Its not suitable for large scale production

3)The colours of patterns can fade easily

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels: source-pexels

6:PIGMENT PRINTING-Is a method which involves the dyeing of fabrics (Particularly clothes and dress materials)by the use of pigment based inks.

It is one of the cheapest and most commonly used printing methods in the textile market and it was discovered in 1856.

*Best fabrics for this technique -Cotton textiles,Fabrics made from polyester or cellulose fibres

*Advantages of pigment printing

1)The colour remains permanently on the fabric and brighter prints can be achieved.

2)It is an easy time process.

3)It is a budget friendly process

*Disadvantages of pigment printing

1)Heavier items are used in this process.

2)The second phase of pigment printing isn't that effective if the first phase isn't done correctly.

3)It can't be applied directly on fabrics so binders are used resulting in coating over the fabric.

7:BURNOUT PRINTING-Burnout printing is a method in which the portion of the fabric which contains Cotton is destroyed with the use of acid or chemical.

When the acid or chemical is made to flow over the fabric having cotton, a chemical reaction takes place resulting in burnout of that cotton fabric.

It originated in France at the turn of the 19'th and 20'th centuries.

*Best fabrics for this technique - A fabric composed of 60% polyester and 40% cotton.

*Advantages of burnout printing

1)This fabric feels soft to touch

2)It is comfortable to wear

*Disadvantages of burnout printing

1)It's not very cost effective method

2)Not available in print factory

3)Has no productivity during sewing due to uneven surface

4)Shrinkage is another big problem

CONCLUSION: In today's world,Fabric printing has become a very important part in the textile industry printing techniques are improving with time leading to the fulfilment of demands of the people to have different references when it comes to designs of textiles the continuing technological advancements in the textile printing industry are am assured that this industry will become huge and also do very well in the future.

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