Digital textile printing: colorfastness of reactive inks versus pigment inks

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Thompson, Katherine
Major Professor
Eulanda A. Sanders
Chunhui Xiang
Committee Member
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Apparel, Events and Hospitality Management

The Department of Apparel, Education Studies, and Hospitality Management provides an interdisciplinary look into areas of aesthetics, leadership, event planning, entrepreneurship, and multi-channel retailing. It consists of four majors: Apparel, Merchandising, and Design; Event Management; Family and Consumer Education and Studies; and Hospitality Management.

The Department of Apparel, Education Studies, and Hospitality Management was founded in 2001 from the merging of the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences Education and Studies; the Department of Textiles and Clothing, and the Department of Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management.

Dates of Existence
2001 - present

Related Units

  • College of Human Sciences (parent college)
  • Department of Family and Consumer Sciences Education and Studies (predecessor)
  • Department of Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Management (predecessor)
  • Department of Textiles and Clothing (predecessor)
  • Trend Magazine (student organization)

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Digital textile printing is over-taking the printing industry with eco-friendly processes and ability to produce short runs. With its rapid growth, there is a constant need to reproduce consistent colors throughout different print runs and crucial for these colors to perform well and up hold under certain conditions. The purpose of this study was to research the colorfastness digitally printed reactive and pigment inks printed on cotton fabrics. Fabric swatches printed using the reactive and pigment inks were tested according to the AATCC standards for laundering, crocking, light, and perspiration.

The digital textile printing industry has slowly started transitioning from printing with reactive inks to primarily pigment inks. Printing with pigment inks is more cost effective and cheaper than reactive inks and has had a large impact on the printing industry. While reactive inks are printed on natural fibers, such as cotton and silk pigment inks, have the ability to be printed on natural and synthetic fibers.

To test the textiles, a Mimaki TX2 1600 digital textile printer was used to print the reactive ink samples while an outside printing company was used to print the pigment ink samples. One hundred and twenty-eight test samples sizes 2”x6”printed with a red, blue, and green geometric pattern were tested. Both the pigment and reactive samples were testing according to the AATCC standards for colorfastness to laundering, crocking, light, and perspiration.

Using a spectrophotometer, the samples were tested and the CIELAB color and ΔE* color change were obtained. The samples were also tested using the AATCC gray scale and 9-step chromatic transference scale. Using the Wilcoxin rank sum test the pigment and reactive samples were compared to record any statistical significance in color change.

The results revealed that the colors printed using pigment inks perform better than reactive inks. Pigment inks experienced much less color loss than the reactive inks in laundering, crocking, and perspiration. Light had little to no impact on the color of both the reactive and pigment samples. Evaluating the reactive and pigments ink types and their colorfastness benefits academia and the industry. This research provides recommendations of how these ink types may be best suited for certain types of apparel and products.

Fri Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2016