Digital textile printing is an advanced form of flat-panel inkjet printing. Nowadays printers designed exclusively to feed large rolls of synthetic fabrics are replaced by some rotating and flat-screen printers commonly used for commercial textile printing. Unlike the tradition textile dye-sublimation process which is restricted to only polyester fabrics, digital textile printing can be used on most printed fabrics-outlet, garments, wrappers, caps, sails, beddings, plastics, rubber and more.
Besides being very convenient to use, digital textile printing offers several advantages over traditional printers. The first and most obvious advantage is that it produces much faster and more accurate color images. This is a huge benefit especially in high volume fashion labels where fast runs are needed for getting brand messages across. Also, the prints come out clearer and more vibrant. In addition, these printers are also more flexible and efficient because they can process different fabrics with different dyes and can be used in a larger area compared to flat-screen printers.
In textile printing, two dye systems are used. First, there is the open system that uses dye-sublimation to transfer color directly to fabric. The second is the closed system. In this process, a dye is applied to the fabric, followed by an ultraviolet (UV) light to evaporate the color. It is possible to maintain continuous tones or gradated tones by varying the speed of the UV light.
Another advantage of the dye sublimation process is that the finished products are free of blobs and small holes which conventional methods leave. This allows for smooth printing on heavier fabrics such as cotton, silk, wool, and synthetic fibers. Since most printed fabrics today are made from synthetic materials, this technology benefits them as well because it minimizes instances of bubbles, lumps, and holes.