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Silk Printing Method A Comprehensive User Guide

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Silk printing is a widely used emerging trend in various industries. If you’re thinking about what silk printing is? What are its sub-categories? What are the advantages of silk printing? Which silk printing method to choose? So, you’re in the right place to explore your interest.

What is silk printing?

Silk printing adds glamour to the plain silk fabric with vibrant colors using various printers. It involves roller and plain printers for commercial printing. The roller printer is prioritized for the quick representation of styles on yards of cloth. Furthermore, silk printing requires an amalgamation of aesthetic and technical knowledge. Designs are printed and processed using advanced technological machinery. Here we’ll look over all the steps involved in it.

Silk fabric and its kinds

Silk is a fiber protein in nature that is cultivated from a moth caterpillar. Within the very first stage, reasonably silk fabric to be printed as is chosen. Selection is accomplished on the idea of features, uses, and quality of the material. Charmeuse, Chiffon, and Habotai Silk are widely preferred to print on.

Silk Habotai

While trying to find silk scarves, accessories, lingerie, and bridal wear, one must choose this fabric. The softness of the material and its lightweight grabs people’s attention to style it in summer. Silk habotai contains a moderate level of sheen into it. Because of its affordable costs, its demand rate is high.

Silk Chiffon

By sharing all other properties with silk habotai fabric, silk chiffon differs on the premise of the absence of sheen into it. Usage purposes of this fabric also are the same as the habatoi fabric. It gives a somewhat crispy and grainy texture, which makes it perfect to wear in the evening or excessively. In Asian countries, this sort of cloth is preferred for Saree.

Silk Charmeuse

Due to its shiny surface and liquid-like feel, it’s not only used for scarves, bridal and formal wear but also for luxury home decor. It’s the main expensive silk fabric among all the above because of its delicate and drippy texture.

Production of fabric

Silkworms are fed until they begin forming cocoons. Then automated machines will seek unfinished business by brushing the cocoons, which ultimately ends up in the formation of useable silk, which is further processed to create silk yarn. The complexity of the silk fabric-making process makes it expensive to shop for compared to other fabrics.

Why choose silk fabric for printing?

Silk, known as the queen of fabrics, now a day’s widely chosen for printing because of its smooth and splendid nature. Silk’s durability resembles steel, making it the most robust fiber. On the other hand, fabrics made of natural fibers absorb liquid quickly, making it easier to print on silk.

Ways of silk printing

Different kinds of methods print silk fabric. Commercial printing industries use digital and screen printing methods on large scale. In comparison, various other methods are time-consuming and hence not preferred for big scale like the stamping method.

Digital printing

Digital printing involves the direct transfer of design from the computer to the material. Except for the traditional printing method, this method incorporates better color infusion with design in a couple of minutes. Two different methods accomplish digital printing on silk. Firstly, the printable graphical record image of the planning is obtained. Then the image is printed to the material by adjusting fixers and colors.

  1. Sublimation digital printing
  2. Direct digital printing

A coated paper (heat transfer sublimation paper) is employed for the sublimation method to transfer the look onto the material. Once the look is copied on the paper, the design is printed on the fabric under high temperature and pressure with the heat transfer fusion method. While just in the case of direct digital printing, the design is directly transferred to the material, which is previously coated to soak up more liquid for a vibrant look. The direct digital printer is employed to essentially share design and make it happen.

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Why digital printing is better

Digital printing is a hot topic just because of its excellent outcome of designs.

  • The cost rate is low due to the direct transfer of design on fabric.
  • Scarf.com offers every single variety of designs to be printed as per choice.
  • High printing accuracy with an unlimited number of colors make it desireable for customers.
  • Requires small operational setup compared to other printing methods
  • Need less training for workers to get printing done
  • Low electricity consumption rate compared with the traditional setup
  • Sharp printing with quick production
  • Open surface for creative designs for small and large-scale business
  • Cost saving and takes a short time to design patterns on fabric
  • Quick to introduce new innovations in fabric
  • Quick to prepare and deliver printed silk fabric
  • Less water consumption during the printing process
  • Easy household fabric customization as per requirements
  • Low stock; to prevent “sell what you produce”.
  • Reduced rate of ink, dyes, and chemical wastage
  • Fast sampling with low cost
  • Offers limitless repeat sizes due to quick computerized adjustments

Screen printing

The silk screen printing method involves printing the design on a screen or stencil. The design is then placed on an intended surface. Colors are spread in a sequence after the one applied before is dried. Despite its rugged nature, it is also among the trending printing method. By this method, only one color is applied at a time. The latest machinery overcomes this barrier by connecting various stencils simultaneously. As a result, the fabric can move further after passing each stencil. A pattern with different colors is printed onto the fabric. But this process is time taking as compared to the digital printing method.

How much screen printing costs

On average, screen printing costs 5 to 7 times more than digital printing. Its cost rate is higher because it sets up a separate screen for every color. Hence, the more colors you demand, the more plates will be manufactured, and thus cost rate will increase accordingly.

Material required for screen printing

Availability of the following materials should be ensured before starting screen printing:

  • Printing press along with a screen
  • Conveyer dryer
  • Ink
  • Squeegee
  • Stencil material
  • Flash care unit

Initially, the stencil is prepared as per design requirements. Then the fabric is placed over the press and adjusted to get printed. In the next step, the stencil is placed over the material, and the ink is evenly spread. With the help of a squeegee, proper spreading of ink is ensured. At this stage, the flash care unit cure inks to get better print and provide the resistance of dyes in case of washing the fabric. In the final step, the fabric conveyer dryer assists in better absorbing colors into the fabric using steam.

Types of silk screen printing

Six different types of screen printing are used to get printed silk fabric.

Spot color screen printing

In this process, colors are premixed with their base and then applied to the fabric in a single pass to get a fresh colored outcome. This type of printing method is used for branding, mostly where a specific shade is required for large-scale printing.

Halftone printing

When faded to an intense shade of color is required to print, halftone screen printing is used. In this method, a single color is represented in the form of sharp larger dots to the faded, smaller ones.

Gray scale printing

This type of screen printing uses shades of grey, from black to white to create a perfect design outcome. It results in the creation of multiple contrasting shades of grey color on silk with fine details.

Duotone printing

This type of screen printing is also known as multi-tone printing, which uses 2-4 colors of special inks rather than a standard one. This type of screen printing gives a sophisticated final look to the lightweight fabric.

CMYK printing

CMYK (an acronym for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black) printing uses four specific colors layering on each other to create an art print. The combination of these four colors leads to 16000 different shades. This printing method is limited to only light-colored fabric.

Stimulated process printing

Few screens are utilized in this printing method, which shows that this process is limited to a few colors only. The outcome reflects a print of full color using various spot colors. This type of screen printing is used when designs, patterns, or images are wanted to obtain on a specific part of the fabric.

Benefits of silk screen printing

  • For plenty of orders; a cost-efficient process
  • Provide the best quality output
  • Offer printing on the specific area of fabric
  • High durability of prints
  • Resistant to various washing techniques
  • Offer unlimited printing on target areas
  • Vivid and bright outlook even on dark-colored fabric

Difference between digital and silk screen printing

The main difference between digital printing and screen printing is; that digital printing offers a direct transfer of design from the computer to the fabric. In contrast, screen printing involves custom stencil creation as per demand. Apart from procedural differences, digital printing is suitable for light-colored fabrics because the thinner layer of ink is applied to shine through the design on the fabric. On the flip side, screen printing is appropriate for dark-colored fabrics due to its thick layer of colors to give vibrant finishing to the fabric. If the same design is needed to be imprinted on yards of fabric with limited colors, Scarf.com prefers to choose the screen printing method. On the other hand, if a small piece of fabric is needed to get printed, or the design contains more than 14 colors with detailed artwork, then Scarf.com will go for the digital printing method that is the most suitable one in this case.   

Dyes used in silk

For silk fabric, acid dyes enhance durability and a clean look. For this purpose, industries also convert various non-acidic dyes into acidic ones. These dyes are chosen based on reactivity so that the dye won’t fade the shine or luster of the fabric. Too much dye can lose the crispiness of silk, and a low level of dye can distort the outlook of the print due to ambiguous colors.

Steps we consider for printing silk fabric

Silk printing is accomplished by following various steps. These steps are almost the same for digital and screen printing. There are only a few changes in both silk printing methods that are discussed below.

Step 1: Designing

The silk printing process begins with the design of the print. Designing is accompanied by merging different colors. For digital silk printing, the design could be submitted on the computer or hand-drawn (then converted into digital format) by the client. In screen printing, the pattern is pirated on a stencil, or the screen is assembled as per the desired print. This step is crucial because the final look of the fabric depends on the print and colors added to the design. Industries hire skilled designers to prepare a design suitable for silk that can be reproduced consistently.

Step 2: Pretreatment

The fabric undergoes pretreatment before getting printed to absorb more color into it. Pretreatment of cloth should be done under careful instructions before printing. Here, silk is coated with an external fabric finisher to ensure the best outcome. The coating boosts the power of silk to soak up more colors. After coating the silk, the fabric is ready to print. The fabric is pre-tested at this stage with the right amount of ink. The screen printing press is set up along with the fabric coating at this stage.

Step 3: Printing

The most careful step is printing of fabric. For enhanced printing outcomes, fabrics are prepared for the dying process, also referred to as PFD. Similarly, before printing, the quantity of cloth required to induce printing is also considered. Then, the appropriate method is chosen based on order size. For digital silk printing, the fabric is passed through a digital inject printer machine, and ink heads are adjusted to a suitable height. For screen silk printing, the fabric is placed on the press, and the screen is adjusted over it to print. The fabric is passed to the next stencil in the rotator silk screen printer further after passing through each stencil.

Step 4: Finishing

The final step of silk printing is the finishing of the fabric. As silk is freshly printed so, it requires more care at this stage. Fabric is steamed first to ensure proper absorption of colors and then washed. The fabric is passed through various water channels with varying temperature levels and chemical concentrations for washing. Finally, it is ironed under careful observation.

At this point, before packing the fabric, prints are critically analyzed to take out any misprints.

Silk scarves printing process

The demand for printed silk scarves is higher among all silk printed stuff. From weaving to packaging, every step requires expertise to prepare silk scarves. Scarf.com offer traditional screen printing, double-sided printing, and digital printing on scarves to enhance their look. You can check here to learn more about silk scarves, which can add glamour to your outfit. 

Custom silk printing

The most exciting opportunity offered by different silk printing industries is to customize your design. You get the chance to choose your desired silk fabric, print your favorite design, and style it elegantly. Every step is customized per customers’ requirements, from choosing the type of silk to sewing. Hence, those who want to get the printed silk as per their requirements can avail of this facility. Furthermore, if you want experts to guide you better at this stage, you can get the solution of your problem from here.

How do I choose my printing method?

Choosing the best printing method for customized print could be challenging if you do not have enough information. The printing method is decided based on the type of fabric, the nature of the design, and, of course, the quantity of order. Additionally, several colors should also be considered while looking for a suitable printing method. Scarf.com have their experts who can guide you about it, but here are some printing methods discussed below. You can consider them before choosing your approach.

Flat-screen

For this printing method, the scrapper is scratched over the screen, and the fabric is placed under the mesh. Once the single scratch is done evenly, the fabric is moved to the next scratch. The process is repeated until the fabric is printed entirely. This method is only suitable for printing on large-scale fabric as it requires scratch preparation for each color and design. This printing method will cost a lot for a small piece of silk fabric.

Hand screen

The hand screen method would be the best to choose for printing small fabric or especially silk scarves. Here, one frame is printed until the fabric is finished. Fabric is placed on a flat surface containing adhesive material. Once the fabric is adjusted on the surface, the printer is moved from one point to the other with the entire panel. As a result, the design is printed on the fabric. 50-90 yards per hour is the estimated speed of this process, which is the least among all the printing methods discussed.

Rotatory screen printing

Various organizations opted for a widely used and suitable printing method, rotatory screen printing. With a speed of 3500 yards per hour and a maximum of 15 color sets, this method brings up designs with a more vibrant outlook. The circular mesh cylinder containing the design assists in the continuous printing of the design on fabric. Circular cylinders incorporate certain designs over themselves, and those designs are printed on the fabrics using dyes.

Digital printing

The quick and low-budget method, especially for small-scale businesses, is digital printing. The design is directly printed on the fabric in a couple of minutes. If the desired design involves detailed print and the use of many colors, then this method of printing would be the best.

Drawbacks of printing methods

If you selected a printing method unsuitable for a specific design, it would cost your budget, time, and energy. Screen printing does not offer a detailed representation of the design. Hence, if you want to customize a complex detailed print or image on your fabric, using the screen printing method would not yield satisfactory results for you. Similarly, for a vibrant design with limited colors, going for digital printing would not be a good choice.

Furthermore, the rate of damage to the environment is higher in the case of silk screen printing as compared to digital one due to more stencil and setup costs. Similarly, for small scaled projects, screen printing would cost more due to the setup of equipment required for every single color.

Eco-friendly benefits of digital silk printing

Apart from what specific printing methods an individual offers benefits, people are also more concerned about the extent of environmental benefits a particular method provides. In the case of digital printing, it generates less waste as compared to any other traditional printing method. For instance, it uses less amount of ink, requires less setup for equipment, and reduces the usage of water than other printing methods. Furthermore, designs are primarily submitted in digital form and then directly printed on fabric instead of using paper to transfer, reducing paper usage.

Scarf.com is taking several more initiatives to reduce the environmental costs of printing methods. For this purpose, they stopped using the sublimation printing method, and the inks used to print designs are AZO dyes free to minimize the release of toxic chemicals in the air. Moreover, to reduce carbon footprints, most processing is completed inside the house.

Eco-friendly benefits of silk screen printing

Similarly, silk screen printing also offers its services concerning environmental benefits. It uses water-based inks and dyes to minimize the spread of harmful chemicals.

Time consumption for silk printing methods

The silk screen printing method consumes more time compared to digital silk printing. One should consider the time requirements before choosing the printing method for customized orders. If the order requires a digital printing method, so expectations could be of a quick delivery, and if the order requires a screen printing method to print, the estimated time duration for order completion should be expanded in such a case.

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