Printing on textiles can give your designs that extra “wow” factor. Printing with the dye sublimation method means your designs are crisp and durable; perfect for eye-catching advertising or unique home décor. Printing your own fabric design on curtains, for instance, is a wonderful way to showcase your decorating flair, and printing photos on canvas adds dramatic interest to any wall.
Textile printing trends
Banners, large-scale graphics, flags, and wearable designs are all made possible with advances in dye sublimation printing technology. Dye sublimation printers use heat to permeate synthetic textiles with the ink, which is a pigment suspended in a water or other liquid solvent. The design is first printed onto coated heat-resistant transfer paper. The heat then vaporizes the inks into a gas and saturates this gas into the textile fibers, where the ink solidifies. This creates a permanent print, which can be washed without the ink peeling or fading.
Textiles printed with dye sublimation printers can have very brilliant colours, with photo-quality continuous tones. Other techniques produce more muted colours, as the fabric themselves tend to mute printed colours. The colour gamut available with dye sublimation allows for dramatic brightness.
New developments in ink manufacturing have produced an increase of water-based pigment inks. These don’t need additional coating for natural fabrics, like cotton. Eco-solvent inks are also growing in popularity, though currently the acid-based inks have greater longevity.
Dye sublimation is a very effective technique for soft signage, and the popular trade show display signs. Printing on lightweight fabrics is particularly effective for outdoor events, where fabric adds a textural element to the overall design. Printed textiles can also be stretching over LED light boxes for added back-lit depth and colour.
Some printers can print the design directly onto the fabric, which reduces cost and expedites the print run and it’s likely that in the future some fabric printers may even have dual ink sets with both dye sublimation inks and pigment fabric inks.
Textile design trends
According to Tamara Stephenson, writer of the design and lifestyle blog Nest by Tamara, the up and coming textile trends include:
- metallic highlights
- exciting colour combinations where bold and bright add personality
- large prints on neutral backgrounds
- traditional themes brought up to date, such as tapestry-style prints