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Comparison Between Conventional and Digital Printing

Printing Assignment

Waqas Ahmed, M. Atif Raza 11/29/2010

We are very thankful to Almighty Allah who enabled us to complete this assignment in due time with the very best of our efforts. Mr. Aslam Khan who allowed us to explore the dimensions of textile printing through this assignment.

Textile Institute of Pakistan Waqas Ahmed (2007-1358) M. Atif Raza (2007-1366)

Textile printing is the most versatile and important of the methods used for introducing color and design to textile fabrics. Considered analytically it is a process of bringing together a design idea, one or more colorants, and a textile substrate (usually a fabric), using a technique for applying the colorants with some precision. Several techniques have been used and the colorants available have multiplied. In properly printed fabrics the color is bonded with the fiber, so as to resist washing and friction. Textile printing is related to dyeing but, whereas in dyeing proper the whole fabric is uniformly covered with one color, in printing one or more colors are applied to it in certain parts only, and in sharply defined patterns. In printing, wooden blocks, stencils, engraved plates, rollers, or silk-screens are used to place colors on the fabric. Colorants used in printing contain dyes thickened to prevent the color from spreading by capillary action beyond the limits of the pattern or design.

Techniques of Printing
Three different approaches or techniques are prevalent for printing color on a fabric: Direct, Discharge and Resist:

Direct Printing:
It is the most common approach to apply a color pattern on fabric. It can be done on white or a colored fabric. If done on colored fabric, it is known as overprinting. The desired pattern is produced by imprinting dye on the fabric in a paste form. To prepare the print paste, a thickening agent is added to a limited amount of water and dye is dissolved in it. Earlier corn starch was preferred as a thickening agent for cotton printing. Nowadays gums or alginates derived from seaweed are preferred because they are easier to wash out, do not themselves absorb any color and allow better penetration of color. Most pigment printing is done without thickeners as the mixing up of resins, solvents and water itself produces thickening.

Textile Institute of Pakistan Waqas Ahmed (2007-1358) M. Atif Raza (2007-1366)

Discharge Printing:
In this approach, the fabric is dyed in piece and then it is printed with a chemical that destroys the color in the designed areas. Sometimes, the base color is removed and another color is printed in its place. The printed fabric is steamed and then thoroughly washed. This approach is on decline these days.

Resist Printing:
In this technique, a resist paste is imprinted on the fabric and then it is dyed. The dye affects only those parts that are not covered by the resist paste. After dyeing, the resist paste is removed leaving a pattern on a dark background.

Conventional Methods Of Printing

There are various methods of printing in which one of the above three techniques is used Block Printing, Roller Printing, Duplex Printing, Stencil Printing, Screen Printing, Transfer Printing, Blotch Printing, Jet Spray Printing, Electrostatic Printing, Photo Printing, Differential Printing, Warp Printing, Batik Dyeing, Tie Dyeing, Airbrush (Spray) Painting and Digital printing.

Block Printing:
The designs are carved on a wooden or metal block and the paste dyestuff is applied to the design on the face of the block. The block is pressed down firmly by hand on the surface of the fabric.

Roller Printing
In this machine counterpart of block printing, engraved copper cylinders or rollers are used in place of hand carved blocks. With each revolution of the roller, a repeat of the design is printed. The printed cloth is passed into a drying and then a steam chamber where the moisture and heat sets the dye.

Textile Institute of Pakistan Waqas Ahmed (2007-1358) M. Atif Raza (2007-1366)

Duplex Printing Printing is done on both sides of the fabric either through roller printing machine in two operations or a duplex printing machine in a single operation.

Screen Printing
It is done either with flat or cylindrical screens made of silk threads, nylon, polyester, vinyon or metal. The printing paste or dye is poured on the screen and forced through its unblocked areas onto the fabric. Based on the type of the screen used, it is known as 'Flat Screen Printing' or 'Rotary Screen Printing'.

Transfer Printing:
The design on a paper is transferred to a fabric by vaporization. There are two main processes for this- Dry Heat Transfer Printing and Wet Heat Transfer Printing. In Conventional Heat Transfer Printing, an electrically heated cylinder is used that presses a fabric against a printed paper placed on a heat resistant blanket. In Infrared Heat Vacuum Transfer Printing, the transfer paper and fabric are passed between infrared heaters and a perforated cylinder which are protected from excessive heat by a shield. The Wet Heat Transfer Printing uses heat in a wet atmosphere for vaporizing the dye pattern from paper to fabric.

Comparative Analysis of Conventional Methods of Printing

Block Printing
It yields very low production; there is more downtime of machine. The cost of set up is very less. Very skilled personnel are required to do such printing. The cost of making a design is very less, however durability of design is very low, being defined by durability of block, usually made of wood. The variety of designs is dictated by the skill of the woodworker who carves those designs. The size of design pattern repeat can be larger. There is a limitation of width of the fabric- that is dictated by the width of the table. The printing can be very bold or subdued. In fact,

Textile Institute of Pakistan Waqas Ahmed (2007-1358) M. Atif Raza (2007-1366)

in India there are numerous techniques based on a twin combination of natural dyes and block printing.

Roller Printing
Yields more production, machine downtime is very less, however cost of setup is high- as investment is needed for the machine. The space required is less. Again very skillful operators are required. The cost of making a design is more, as roller has to be carved. The durability of the design is more than a hand block print. Very elaborate and fine designs can be carved on a roller printing. The repeat size is limited to up to 42 cm. Again, it has a limitation of fabric width. Very bold and lustrous prints cannot be done on a roller printing.

Flat Bed Screen Printing

Yields more production but less than roller printing as the process is not continuous. There is very less downtime of the machine. The cost of machine and installation is very high. The space requirement is also very high. Very less skilled workers are needed for this printing method. The cost of making a design is less as compared to a roller printing. The durability of the design however is very less, as new screen has to be made after few uses. The quality of designs can be very fine. The repeat of pattern can be very high. Also even a higher width cloth can be printed. The colors can be very bright and bold.

Rotary Printing
It has the maximum production among all printing techniques. The machine downtime is very less. The cost of machine and space requirement is again very high. Less skilled workers can be employed to operate this machine. Cost of making a design is very high. Compared to this the durability of the design is very less. The variety of design it offers and the quality of reproduction is the best among all techniques. Also fabric width can be high for it to be printed. It can yield bright colors.

Textile Institute of Pakistan Waqas Ahmed (2007-1358) M. Atif Raza (2007-1366)

In conventional textile printing, an original design was manually traced, films produced and individual screens or rollers engraved for each color (i.e. if a textile design has 24 colors then 24 screens have to be produced unlike the CMYK process color system used in the graphic arts industry). A 'proof' (or sample ) print was produced in a number of color ways on the textile substrate supplied by the customer prior to submitting to the customer for approval. The time scales indicated in Figure 1 are still typical of those currently achievable by the textile printer who has not adopted digital technologies. However, over the last few years, there has been considerable investment by the printer and the majority of textile printers now have CAD systems. With the right investment, the printer can scan designs into a CAD system where he can reduce the number of colors, manipulate designs, put into repeat, color and produce separations. The

Textile Institute of Pakistan Waqas Ahmed (2007-1358) M. Atif Raza (2007-1366)

digital information produced can then subsequently be used to produce screens directly, via the latest laser engraving technology, or by conventional means using computer produced films. However, the 'rate determining step' and major bottleneck is the production of the many color ways at the sample print stage.

Digital Printing- A new Dimension in Textile Printing:

In this form of printing micro-sized droplets of dye are placed onto the fabric through an inkjet print head. The print system software interprets the data supplied by academic Textile digital image file. The digital image file has the data to control the droplet output so that the image quality and color control may be achieved. This is the latest development in textile printing and is expanding very fast. Digital Textile Printing Digital technology is the fastest growing method of printing textiles, according to a Report of Textile Outlook International, between 2000 and 2005 digitally printed textile output rose by 300%. Although digital methods still account for less than 1% of the global market for printed textiles, their share is likely to expand to as much as 10% by the early part of the next decade. One reason for the expected growth in digital printing is that more textile manufacturers are able to provide "prepared for print" fabrics to digital printers. However, much of the increase will be due to improvements in digital printing equipment, such as print heads and ink dispersion techniques. Growth will also stem from advances in pigment-based inks. The rapidly evolving world of digitalized textiles is a reflection of several unique and contrasting business models that create challenges, treats, and opportunities to the future of the textile printing market. As the current trend is for the establishment of air-jet looms units, open-width processing units, and in printing major strength is of 'rotary' screen printing machines, further investment made for the import of latest machinery for bleaching, dyeing, printing, and finishing.

Textile Institute of Pakistan Waqas Ahmed (2007-1358) M. Atif Raza (2007-1366)

Digital printing methods have enabled manufactures to produce a digital sampling and strike off of designs prior to engraving. It is apparent that digital textile printing technology has not influenced the style of the design, but has been utilized to expedite the design process. A majority of the digital fabric printers for sampling and strike off are based on process color systems to simulate the effects of spot color based conventional printing. Digital printing technology saves time for design processes including; design alternation, color ways and strike off. Comparatively, printed textile design is much more quickly and efficiently produced for the market needs than conventional printing processes. Consequently, stylists can maintain a higher level of a design quality and aesthetics by continually refining the design in the printing process. As far as printing style is concerned, conventional printers can produce a wide variety of styles, such as direct, discharge, devore, plisse, warp print, etc. In comparison, digital printing technology has only been developed for a direct printing application. The latest continuous head printer, Zimmer Chromojet, is designed as a spot color based production printer. Although this printer is still a direct printing application, new developments in continuous head technology might lead to more complex styles of printing that require more demanding chemical substances.

Various Approaches for Digital Printing:

Among the various approaches for digital printing include:

Electrostatic Printing
A dye- resin mixture is spread on a screen bearing the design and the fabric is passed into an electrostatic field under the screen. The dye- resin mixture is pulled by the electrostatic field through the pattern area onto the fabric.

Photo Printing
The fabric is coated with a chemical that is sensitive to light and then any photograph may be printed on it.

Ink-jet Printing
Inkjet has gained a very significant place in the field of innovative printing techniques. This technique is more related to those used in reprographics industry than textile printing. Inkjet
Textile Institute of Pakistan Waqas Ahmed (2007-1358) M. Atif Raza (2007-1366)

printing has a low water consumption and low energy consumption process compared with conventional printing process.

The Process of Digital Printing:

Advantages & Disadvantages of Digital Printing:

To date, the key drivers in adopting digital textile printing technology for traditional textile printers has been the reduction of sampling costs and time to market. In conventional textile screen printing, the development cost for stirke-offs and samples are $4,000-$8,000 (USD) per design, with the cost fluctuating based upon the number of spot colors used in a design. The development of these screens and strike-offs takes from 2 to 5 weeks. With digital textile printing there are no screen costs, and a sample can be printed upon demand.

Textile Institute of Pakistan Waqas Ahmed (2007-1358) M. Atif Raza (2007-1366)

However, with the textile industry using this technology only for strike-offs, while moving to conventional screen printing for their production needs, it is failing to incorporate many of the key benefits and design opportunities that the new technology provides. These benefits include the ability to use an unlimited number of colors, excellent reproduction of continuous tone images, unlimited repeat sizes and the ability to print engineered designs across multiple seam lines.

Theoretically 4 basic colors, actual use of 7-12 colors depending on print head A color change on the fabric does not require a physical color change on the machine Theoretically an unlimited number and range of colors for printing available. Less chemical/dyestuff usage Environmentally friendlier

Textile Institute of Pakistan Waqas Ahmed (2007-1358) M. Atif Raza (2007-1366)

Difficult color adjustment on flat colors Strong dependence on dye stuffs and fabric structure As the single color drops, it must be placed on the fabric at exact spots. Maximum preciseness is required for the printing machine manufacturer High resolution (up to 760 dpi) is required to avoid color areas from appearing granular and pixel-like. The resolution value however does not represent the delicateness actually achieved on the fabric, as several color drops together form superpixels. Higher resolution leads to lower output speed Penetration varies depending on how many process colors are used.

Digital Printing Vs. Conventional Printing:

Unlike any conventional textile printing technology, the biggest advantage for digital fabric printing is in its process color application. Preset colors eliminate a need for screens or rollers to be engraved. The design does not require any set repeat size nor even repeats itself. At the same time, there is no restriction of the numbers of colors in the design. Any graphics created for printing on paper can be printed on fabrics. Photographic and tonal graphics created with millions of colors in Photoshop can be printed on fabric. Latest development of inks, color management software and substrates enable users to produce wider color gamut and finer printing quality. The addition of extra preset colors of orange, blue, green etc. to the traditional process colors of CMYK, have become the new standard for process color. At the same time, color management software has recently developed to manage these complex color systems.
Textile Institute of Pakistan Waqas Ahmed (2007-1358) M. Atif Raza (2007-1366)

Drop on demand technology allows to do a short run production on a variety of substrates with minimal down time. For this reason, a new look of digitally printed fabrics is emerging in the high-end fashion design field. Experimental looks of textile design are emerging in the market by small print shops, individual designers and students. The current general design trends including concepts of shadow, shimmering, translucent, vibration, reflection, moire, optical, netting, blurring, layering, superimposing, etc. are directly seen on digitally printed textiles. These creative approaches can lead to successful experimentation, which create new trends and design movements. This allows designers to create successful designs, which are either avant-grade or commercially viable. Similarly, silkscreen printing gave artists and designers great freedom of creativity. Designers were able to experiment with multiple images on fabrics, before it developed into major textile printing technology. Digital textile printing will follow the same path and a new design look with freedom of process color application will be seen on mass market. At the same time, currently many companies have been researching and developing high performance piezo drop on demand production printers. For example, the Dupont Artistri printer has a capacity to produce higher volumes than most digital printers. Currently, printing speed is one of factors that require more improvement in digital fabric printing, compared to conventional textile printing. The year 2000 was a pivotal year for the development of production digital printers and issue of speed will be solved in time. Digital fabric printing has not only influenced visual styles, but also the concept and definition of printed textile design. Because of the development of digital fabric printing, printed textile design has become universal in its application and function. For instance, textile designers can create printed textile design as a big contained image without repeat, just like a graphic banner. In this sense, print design can function as a graphic advertisement instead of a conventional textile pattern in repeat. Fashion or interior designers can create their own printed fabrics more effortlessly. These designers can produce printed textiles on their own without depending on textile designers by simply operating digital printers. Traditional definition of textile design has been dictated by the repeat and color limitation with a specific textile end use. In contrast, the new definition of printed textile design represents printed graphics on cloth in cross platform applications. However, because of the creative freedom in which anything can be printable and anyone can be a print designer, it is critical to consider the design quality and aesthetics.

Textile Institute of Pakistan Waqas Ahmed (2007-1358) M. Atif Raza (2007-1366)

Suggestion After a brief study of the current situation of textile printing and keeping the perspectives such as environmental issues, costs etc. in mind, we would suggest that Digital printing technique should be preferred over conventional printing techniques. Even though the initial investment of digital printing is high but on a long term it will not only save us a lot of time and money but human errors and other faults can also be minimized by the implementation of digital printing.

Textile Institute of Pakistan Waqas Ahmed (2007-1358) M. Atif Raza (2007-1366)

Conclusion It is our prediction that in the near future, textile printing production will change from a few major textile mills to many small digital textile printing shops. Further innovation in digital printing technology will have an impact on the style and definition of the printed textile design. Future applications of digital technology will become more creative, innovative, and commercially viable for the designer as well as consumer.

Textile Institute of Pakistan Waqas Ahmed (2007-1358) M. Atif Raza (2007-1366)

Textile Printing Revised Second Edition edited by Leslie W C Miles. INK JET PRINTING ON TEXTILES by Dr. John Provost Digital technology fastest growing method of textile printing by Dr. Noor Ahmed Memon A Primer in Digital Textile Printing by Teri Ross http://mytextilenotes.blogspot.com http://www.teonline.com/knowledge-centre/printing.html

Textile Institute of Pakistan Waqas Ahmed (2007-1358) M. Atif Raza (2007-1366)