How Pigment Printing Works
Pigment printing is a popular technique for both natural and synthetic fabrics. At Contrado, we primarily use pigment printing for some of our natural fabrics.
If you imagine a home printer moving back and forth to deposit the ink on paper, then you've already got a pretty good idea of how pigment dye printing works. The fabric is placed beneath the printer and the pigment is deposited, which has a composition that is slightly different from other inks. The pigment inks use tiny colour particles held in a suspension rather than liquid dyes. They're also lighter in colour, meaning the printer needs to layer the pigment. The printer does this over and over to create the desired colour, which is quite satisfying to watch!
Digital pigment printing on fabric is a localised technique, meaning the dye is applied only to the parts of the fabric that have the design. This often still ends up being the entire surface of the fabric if that's what you've created. This method of printing is similar to painting, and sometimes pigment printed fabrics are even called painted fabrics. The pigments sit on the surface of the fabric itself, just as paint would.
The Benefits of Pigment Printing on Fabric
Even though the pigment rests on top of the fabric, the colour is still long-lasting. The state-of-the-art technology and advanced printers we use allow the results of the printing to be enduring.
Pigment printing on fabric can produce a broad range of colours that can easily match the original design. Tones are true to the digital design, which is important for tone matching. For light colours and pastels, this type of printing works exceptionally well.
Textile pigment printing is a technique that has been around for quite a while, so over time it has become a more cost-effective method of printing. In comparison to other newer techniques, pigment printing is economical.
Despite the pigment needing to be layered by the printer, it's still a fast process. This is because the actual printing is the most intensive step, and there's not much that needs to be done with the fabric before or after it gets printed. This enables us to do the pigment dye fabric printing quickly, and we can typically send your fabric out to you within 1-2 days. Therefore you will get your fabric as soon as possible. This is great for projects that need a quick turnaround, as well as for students who might be on deadlines.
While other printing methods can only print on certain types of fabrics, pigment printing is more versatile. Both natural and synthetic textiles can be pigment printed, which allows for plenty of possibilities. This includes blended fabrics as well, for example where natural fabrics may be strengthened with elastane.