What is Digital Inkjet Printing? How is it an Innovation for the Textile Industry?


What is Digital Inkjet Printing? How is it an Innovation for the Textile Industry?

Why EXOTICA chooses to use digital inkjet printing

Digital inkjet printing is a novel type of textile printing technique. With its convenient production process and a colourful versatility that meets each designer’s creative choices, the advantages digital inkjet printing holds over former techniques like screen printing has garnered it great interest in the textile industry of recent times and is growing in demand.

  Screen printing uses multiple layers of stencils, which must be prepared ahead of the printing process itself. A stencil has a mesh screen which allows ink to permeate through into the fabric at the designated spots which require colour, but is impermeable elsewhere. Stencils are placed over the fabric, and a squeegee is used to spread the ink over the mesh screen. Only one colour can be applied to each stencil, and so designs with more colours and complexity require more stencils. For example, if a pattern has three colours, then three stencils must be applied as shown below:

However, screen printing has a number of limitations detrimental to its cost and efficiency:
  • There is a high set up cost for preparing the stencils and ink. Screen printing is only suitable for mass production, as this reduces the significance of the set up cost relative to the amount of textiles manufactured.
  • Designs that require a range of colours necessitates more time and cost on preparing materials and in the printing process.
  • In addition to colour limitations, the complexity of designs is also restricted.
  • The mesh screens on stencils may not always distribute the ink evenly or the ink may bleed. Sometimes the permeable areas on the mesh may be obstructed and the ink is consequently unable to pass through onto the fabric.

  Digital inkjet printing is a revolutionary technique which uses computers to automatically control printers to recreate digitally designed patterns onto textiles. This technique works very much like inkjet printers for paper that you typically see. Printer heads propel minuscule colour droplets directly onto the fabric at its designated spot. Unlike screen printing, multiple colours are printed simultaneously in digital inkjet printing, and there are no constraints in colour and design. As a result, this technique allows textiles to have the following qualities:
  • Sharply defined and intricate patterns could be used freely, with a low chance of errors when printing lines and colours.
  • An unlimited selection of colours allows vibrant and complex designs.
  • The colour droplets are directly imprinted into the fabric, preserving the soft texture of the fabric. In contrast, screen printing “paints” ink upon the fabric, and the fabric consequently feels rough and stiff when multiple layers of ink are stacked atop each other.
  • No prior preparation of printing materials such as stencils and inks is required, thus lowering the set up cost significantly. Digital designs can be sent directly to the computer and the printer.
  • Product testing and sampling can be done with little cost.

  EXOTICA uses patterns from outstanding designers all around the world. However, before digital inkjet printing was available, the limitations of older printing techniques posed as a barrier to textile design no matter how elegant or impressive our selected patterns may be. For example:
  • Each design cannot have more than 12 colours.
  • The use of stencils require designs to be fitted within a 24” x 24” frame, then repeatedly printed side by side.
  • Pattern lines and colours designed on the computer or on paper could not be directly recreated on fabric.

To avoid the limitations stated above, EXOTICA prefers digital inkjet printing for our bedding products. This allows our products to display each designer’s artistic work to its fullest extent while leaving the condition of the fabric unmarred. Most importantly, our consumers have the best of both worlds: bedding sophisticated in both design and quality.

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