Laura steps up from the traditional to the hi-tech or machine made with our second guide to print techniques.
Digital textile printing
This technique is good for putting together a small collection and is really useful for student designers.
- Starting with a file provided by the designer, an exact design can be immediately printed with a wide range of colours, using a large printer controlled by a computer.
- The machine reads the computer file and prints the drawing with an ink jet printing head with six colours or more, which are then mixed together.
The technique is popular due to the speed of preparation and production, which helps individuals or companies working to short deadlines.
You can also achieve this type of print with a regular inkjet printer you might have at home or college by using fabric sheets with a removable paper backing. Inkjet technology manufacturers offer specialist products designed for direct printing on textiles, not only for sampling but also for mass production.
Heat transfer printing or sublimation printing
This is the process of applying heat-applied materials to different types of surfaces and fabric with a heat press.
- Create the motif by hand or on the computer where it can be resized. The colour space that you use for this process is RGB. The fabric that you choose needs to be brilliant white. Using RGB means that your design should come out looking as close as possible to the image that you see on the computer screen.
- An inkjet printer loaded with dye sublimation or disperse dye ink is used to print the design on to a specialist heat transfer paper. The image printed needs to be in reverse. The paper print out of the design is then transferred on to a preshrunk [i.e pre ironed, so that it does not shrink or move around when you print] fabric in the heat press for just 60 seconds at 200 degrees centigrade.
You can also use a heat transfer press for techniques such as foiling, flocking, puff binder, garment vinyls and pleating.
Word of warning, creases made on the press always stay in place!
Placement or engineered print
Inspired? Check out our ‘Know Your Print’ pinboard for more examples of different print techniques.