Acid and Reactive inks are 2 different types of common dye based inks available to digital printers. The dye-based inks require the use of a fabric with a specific pre-treatment. They require moist heat as in steaming for fixation. The advantage of the dye-based inks is the color gamut is wider. A general rule of thumb is that the same type of ink should be used digitally in an application that is printed by screen printing. A softer hand or feel is common along with a better wash fastness because of the nature of the Dye inks. Dye inks penetrate fabrics extremely well but require a lot of processing steps to make it ready for use. Typically pretreating, heat, washing and steaming are employed to fixate fabrics. The equipment required in process is typically industrial and specialized. We recommend Acid and Reactive inks for larger scale operations where the meters printed per hour warrant the capital investment.
Banners or flags,soft signage and sportswear are applications of sublimation ink.The fabric is typically high content Polyester, Lycra and Spandex. Sublimation is the most popular with class 1 and 2 printers. Once printed you transfer off a sublimation ink receptive paper roll or direct print to the fabric. Heat fixation >200ºC is needed for the gaseous dye transfer to polyester fibers. The colors are brighter and leave no hand or feel are wash and UV stable. For higher speed printers it’s essential to have a degassed ink delivery system and the print heads that is used will need to have a calibrated ink to perform well, or offer long term repeatability. The heat fixation process is either with a Heat Press or Roll fixation Calendar. A broad range of colors (15) including Neon are readily available.
Type printers generally run sublimation/disperse dyes in combination with transfer papers – Sizes of printers and speeds are relative to your market needs. Curing is either by heat press or heat fixation Calendars. (Sportswear manufacture, soft signage and hard surface products).