Pigment printing on fabric. Key benefits and costs

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Among the wide range of technologies of printing designs on fabrics, pigment printing is one of the most available and at the same time the least used method.

Pigment printing does not use dyes, but pigments – special substances that color the surface of the fabric, but at the same time do not penetrate into its fibers. They are held on the material by chemical compounds, and inorganic or natural pigment compounds can be used for different fabrics. Pigment inks achieve high print quality with good color reproduction on fabrics made of synthetic or natural fibers.

Pigment printing technology

Pigment printing is carried out mechanically, using the rotary drum or screen printing principle. Work is carried out in several steps:


Before being laid on the printing machine, the fabric is exposed to high temperatures. This smoothes the fabric and results in better ink application quality.

Ink application

Due to the compositions used, pigment printing is different from other technologies. To create a bright and clear print, ink with a binder – a special polymerizing ingredient with the consistency of glue – is often used. This allows the print to dry quickly and the dye to absorb better into the fabric.


At this stage, the pigment inks are safely “stuck” to the textile surface. It takes at least 3 minutes for the canvas to dry, and the temperature should be 140-160°C.


Other elements are added to the fabric.

Pigment ink: pros

Pigment ink for water-based digital printing, unlike other options, contains an insoluble dye that ensures maximum coloration of the fabric.

One of the key advantages, and one of the reasons for the increased interest in digital printing with pigment inks, is the significantly shortened production cycle, which is almost 2 times shorter than with reactive inks.

The evaporation and rinsing process is not required, and as a result, the technology is simplified, and the cost of processing the fabrics after printing is reduced, as is the use of water, electricity and chemicals.

Additional advantages include, of course:

  • high degree of light resistance;
  • ease of use;
  • wide range of textile carriers – natural and synthetic fabrics;
  • special composition and consistency of paints, which are a guarantee of durability and high quality of prints;
  • practically no limitations as to the number of possible shades and patterns;
  • low production costs.

Pigment ink: disadvantages

Despite the clear advantages and economic benefits, pigment printing is still used extremely rarely. This can be explained by the need to use a special binder in the process to fix the ink

Another problem may be the risk of clogging the printer nozzles with insoluble dye particles. To solve this problem, it is traditionally recommended to shake the ink thoroughly before use, as well as to use printheads with modern continuous ink circulation systems to avoid deposits and clogging of nozzles in the printing machine.

It should be noted that pigment printing, as one of the world’s major printing methods, is taking a back seat. If only a few years ago, 80% of the world’s textiles were printed with pigments, many manufacturers are now looking to switch to reactive printing as more durable, brighter and with a greater color range.

Main photo: fsHH/pixabay.com

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