Textile printing is an ancient technology, but it is constantly being improved. As long as people want colored clothing, society will develop new technologies. Recently, printing reached a new and exciting threshold. The technologies rolling into factories and print shops today may define how clothes are made for this generation.
The New Trends
The last decade has been rough for textile producers. Many producers are folding, or have been forced to outsource. Those that survive are doing it by adapting to the times. For many, this means adopting digital printing techniques.
Digital printing was once an expensive process confined to specialty stores. Now, on the other hand, it has become cheap enough to replace screen printing in modern factories. Not only is it cheaper than screen printing, but also it is much more adaptable. As fashions change, factories can easily transition to new patterns and colors.
The digital approach also leads to better quality products. Digital prints use dye sublimation: ink with a very high melting point that solidifies almost immediately. This means the dye does not bleed outside of the designated lines, unlike traditional printing. This allows for sharper patterns and more intricate designs. Traditional printing leaves ink behind on the screen, causing a mess both for the factory and the environment as a whole.
It is likely that the next few years will show even more adoption of digital printing. The fashion industry may begin to design specifically for digital printing factories, using finer patterns of colour.
Beyond the Factory
Factories are not the only businesses that can benefit from the switch to digital printing. Most professional print shops are also making use of dye sublimation technology to print promotional shirts and banners. Since print shops tend to have top-of-the-line printers, their products are now identical to those produced by the best factory equipment in the world.