Dye sublimation is the leading process and ink in digitally printed textiles, including for home textile. Where sublimation creates permanency when the dye is encapsulated into a polymer, pigments are bonded to natural fabrics using binders and a heat calender process. Digitally printed natural fabrics are in high demand, so this is an area we expect to see significant growth in coming years, and this is another good reason for considering pigments.
Rather than a dye that is soluble, water-based pigment inks use an insoluble pigment to provide coloration of the textile. Compared to dyes, pigments do not have a real affinity for special fibres, which makes them suitable for colouring on the top layer of a various number of fibres as well as blends. Pigmented ink is flexible and can be used to print on almost all fabrics, which is a potential competitive advantage over other ink types. Pigments have a narrower colour gamut and give somewhat less vibrant colours than dyes, but sublimation dyes are less resistant to fading under UV (sunlight) irradiation.
The use of pigment inks shows some remarkable benefits. With the suitability of printing on a various number of textile substrates a broad field of application can be served, ranging from home textiles, soft signage and banners to fashion (mainly T-shirts) or speciality products. Pigments are especially beneficial in areas where high lightfastness is required. Furthermore, the entire process, compared to reactive prints, is very quick and easy. (Muscato)
Pigments, a “pole sitter”
Dye sublimation printers may face a challenge in the future from a competing technology inks in fabric printing – pigment inks. The key advantage of pigment inks is that they can work with any fabric, not just polyester or polyblend materials employed with dye sublimation processes. Plus, pigment ink is water-based, making it inherently environmentally friendly. In addition, since the process only requires heat to fix the ink, it is a more sustainable option for those who want to avoid wasting water or paper – read more.
We look forward to seeing you at ‘where engineering breeds creativity’!