By Cassandra Balentine
The August issue of Digital Output looked at traditional textile ink sets like acid, disperse, dye-sublimation, pigment, and reactive. However, there is also a place for latex and UV technologies in this space.
“The digital textile printing market is dominated by five types of textile inks—reactive, acid dye, disperse inks, sublimation, and pigmented inks. Latex and UV inks are not traditionally used for digital textile printing, but have of late found some niché applications,” offers Malan Calitz, R&D manager – water-based inks, NUtec Digital Ink.
Tim Check, senior product manager, Professional Imaging, Epson America, Inc., also believes UV and resin-based—like latex—inks do have a place in textile printing. “These ink chemistries are generally suited towards signage applications and outdoor use.”
Pedro J. Martinez, CEO, AFFORD, sees latex and UV as alternatives for sign textiles, but notes that other inks may offer better performance on textiles as they are specifically designed for it. “UV or latex on textile is an option when one is not requiring excellent fastness values. Moreover, in the case of UV inks, which might be in contact with the skin, there is always the doubt of full reaction of the UV inks, since the monomers are an irritant.”
UV LED inks are relatively new to digital textile printing, and are mostly used for printing on soft signage, wallpaper, flags, and canvas, suggests Calitz. He says the advantages of printing with UV LED inks are good lightfastness, good crockfastness, excellent chemical and solvent resistance, and lastly rapid, low-heat curing. “The latter is a distinct advantage for delicate fabrics where post-treatment, like heat curing or washing, is not possible.”
It is important to note that UV inks tend to yield a harder hand than the other five traditional digital printing inks, cautions Calitz.
“UV printing for textile printing is possible but there are more practical solutions. This is because UV inks tend to form a harder film, making the hand feel of the fabric after print undesirable. More critical is the question of whether the inks can be fully cured on a porous fabric and if residual uncured materials are safe for skin contact. Some outdoor applications could apply a UV ink plus coating, but the scope is limited,” explains Simon Daplyn, manager, product marketing, Sun Chemical.
Latex inks have found their way into digital textile printing. Calitz explains that latex inks behave similarly to water-based pigmented textile inks, where the polymers/resins contained in the latex need heat to form a thin film that encompasses the pigments. “Most latex inks are not specifically designed for textile printing, thus the resulting film is often less flexible and has a harder hand than traditional textile inks, which limits their application as textile inks.”
Resin-based inks like latex are versatile. “The advantage for this ink chemistry is that a print provider with a resin printer can do a good quality job on a range of applications including wallpaper, curtains, and other décor items. The upfront equipment cost of a resin printer can be less expensive than a dye-sub system, but dye-sub will have lower operating costs, higher production speed, and more vibrant color quality when using polyester-based fabrics,” shares Check.
“Latex and UV could have applications on niché fabric or garment materials that cannot be printed with the current existing portfolio of inks. The nature of their printing process and higher environmental impact of UV printing will limit the applicability of these ink sets,” admits Eric P. Beyeler, global marketing manager, Artistri Digital Inks, DuPont.
If you’re interested in learning more about textile ink options, visit here to read Trending in Textile Inks.
Aug2022, Digital Output