How Reactive Dye Printing Works
Reactive dye printing is a multi-step process that produces absolutely stunning results. In essence, this method relies on a combination of reactive dyes, water, pressure, and heat to make the magic happen. Before we even begin to print on reactive fabric, the fabric itself has to go through a few steps to prepare it. The material is washed and dried to remove any impurities and allow it to absorb the dyes later on. Then, the fabric is coated with a pre-treatment that helps the dye bond to the material. This step is essential to produce the quality of results that reactive dye printing is known for. An inkjet printer replicates your designs on the fabric using the special reactive dye. Once the fabric is fully printed with dye, a hot, high-pressure steamer locks it all in. Steaming is crucial to ensure the inks are locked into the fabric for the long haul. As the final step, the fabric is washed and dried once again. This step removes the pre-treatment that is applied at the beginning and gets rid of any excess dye, so your fabric is ready to be used.
Digital printing on reactive fabric works by creating a covalent bond between the cellulose fibers in the fabric and the reactive dye. As such, this method of printing works on natural fabrics including cotton, linen, silk, and bamboo.
The Benefits of Reactive Fabric Printing
Despite the intensive process behind reactive fabric printing, the results are completely worth it. As a result of the hot steam, the dyes are sunken deep into the fabric. Therefore the print on reactive fabric has a remarkably high wash fastness, meaning it won't lose its vibrancy through the washing machine. For projects such as clothing, blankets, and kitchen linens, this is an important quality. You won't have to worry about your design bleeding out in the washer, as reactive printed fabrics can be washed at 104°F/40°C without losing their color. This longevity extends to friction as well, so the dyes won't rub off of the fabric over time either.
Reactive dyes are available in seven colors that can be mixed to create virtually any color. Black ink is deeply pigmented as well. This makes color reproduction exceptionally accurate and true to life. All of the tones and shades in your design will be captured in the final print.
The print on reactive fabric is highly detailed with sharp lines and bold colors. Any design you can imagine can be impeccably replicated using this printing process.
Luxurious natural fibers such as high-quality silks can be reactively printed, so there's no compromising on quality. This is beneficial as natural textiles are more environmentally friendly, so you will have the opportunity to print your own designs without sacrificing sustainability. With all-natural fabrics, the eco-friendly inks and the material are biodegradable.
Digital reactive printing is an involved process that produces undeniably superb results. At Contrado, it's one of our favorite printing methods to use, because we know that you'll be wowed by the finished fabric.