Introduction to the Textile Printing Method:

Textile printing, stemming from the Latin term meaning “pressing,” involves the application of color to fabric in specific patterns or designs. Integral to wet processing, it occurs post-fabric pretreatment or dyeing processes and serves to enhance fabric aesthetics with captivating designs. Typically, printing is executed on one side of the textile, employing various methods to transfer dyestuffs and chemicals onto the fabric surface.

Understanding Textile Printing Methods:

Textile printing diverges from dyeing in its localized application of one or more colors onto fabric, creating sharply defined patterns. Referred to as localized dyeing, this process involves the discontinuous application of dyes and pigments to specific parts of the fabric. Here, we’ll delve into various printing methods categorized by the machinery used to deliver the print paste and the mode of delivery to the substrate, including flat screen, rotary screen, copper roller, inkjet printing, and other mechanisms.

Textile printing involves five primary methods: block, roller, screen, heat transfer, and ink-jet. Heat transfer differs as it transfers color from paper to fabric through vapor, while the others apply dye or pigment directly to the fabric surface using a print paste medium. Ink-jet printing, a newer method, is non-contact, as the print paste is jetted onto the textile without direct contact.

Printing methods vary based on user demand, print quantity, fabric type, and end-use requirements. Different instruments are employed to produce impressions on fabrics, ensuring versatility and suitability for various applications.

Textile printing encompasses various methods, each with its unique approach to applying color and design onto fabric. Here’s a brief overview of some of the main printing methods:

  1. Block Printing: Utilizes carved wooden or metal blocks to imprint designs onto fabric.
  2. Roller Printing: Involves engraved rollers to transfer designs onto fabric continuously.
  3. Screen Printing: Uses a mesh screen stencil to apply color onto the fabric surface.
  4. Flat Screen Printing: Similar to screen printing, but with a flat bed instead of a rotary screen.
  5. Rotary Screen Printing: Utilizes cylindrical screens to print continuous patterns onto fabric.
  6. Transfer Printing: Transfers designs from paper to fabric through heat and pressure.
  7. Ink-Jet Printing: A non-contact method where print paste is sprayed onto the fabric from a jet.
  8. Carpet Printing: Specifically for printing designs onto carpets.
  9. Jet Spray Printing: Involves spraying dye directly onto the fabric using high-pressure jets.
  10. Warp Printing: Applies designs onto the warp yarns before weaving.
  11. Resist Printing: Uses resist agents to prevent dye from reaching certain areas of the fabric.
  12. Electrostatic Printing: Applies color using electrostatic charges to attract dye particles to the fabric.
  13. Photographic Printing: Prints photographic images onto fabric.
  14. Pigment Printing: Applies pigment directly onto the fabric surface.
  15. Discharge Printing: Removes color from dyed fabric to create designs.
  16. Flock Printing: Applies adhesive to fabric, then adds short fibers for a textured effect.
  17. Direct Printing: Applies color directly onto the fabric without the need for a separate printing plate or screen.
  18. Duplex Printing: Prints on both sides of the fabric simultaneously.
  19. Stencil Printing: Uses stencils to apply color to specific areas of the fabric.
  20. Space Dyeing, Kalamkari, Batik Printing, Tie Dyeing: Specialized methods with unique techniques and cultural significance.

Each method offers its advantages and is chosen based on factors such as the desired design, fabric type, and end-use of the printed product.

The above-mentioned printing methods have been succinctly described, each offering a unique approach to applying color and design onto fabric. These methods encompass traditional techniques like block and roller printing, as well as modern innovations such as ink-jet printing and heat transfer. Each method is chosen based on factors like production scale, fabric type, and desired outcome, ensuring versatility and efficiency in textile printing processes.

Block Printing:

Block printing is a traditional method where patterns are intricately carved into wooden blocks or constructed using metal stripes and nails. Print paste is then applied to the design surface of the block, which is pressed onto the fabric. This process is repeated with various designs and colors until the pattern is complete. Despite its ancient origins, block printing remains a popular technique in Asian countries and can even be done at home by individuals in their leisure time. However, due to its slow and labor-intensive nature, it is not suitable for large-scale commercial use. Block printing is primarily utilized in small-scale or cottage industries due to its limited flexibility and productivity compared to industrial-scale methods.

Roller printing

Roller printing is a method where engraved copper cylinders or rollers replace hand-carved blocks. As the rollers move, the design is repeatedly printed onto the fabric. This technique is favored for long production runs due to its high-speed capabilities. Additionally, roller printing is versatile, allowing for the simultaneous printing of up to a dozen different colors. The basic equipment for roller printing consists of copper-faced rollers with etched designs, with a separate roller for each color. These rollers rotate over the fabric under pressure against an iron pressure roller. A blanket and backing cloth provide flexible support for the fabric being printed. A color doctor blade removes excess paste or fibers from the roller after contact with the fabric. Following the impression stage, the fabric undergoes drying and steaming processes.

Screen Printing:

Screen printing has seen a significant increase in usage in recent years due to its versatility and the development of rotary screen printing machines capable of high production rates. One notable advantage of screen printing is its ability to produce heavy depths of shade, a limitation of roller printing due to the restricted amount of print paste held in the shallow engraving depth on the print roller.

Types of Screen Printing: Screen printing comprises two basic methods: flat screen and rotary screen processes.

Rotary Screen Printing:

Rotary screen printing utilizes cylindrical screens instead of flat screens. Each color in the design requires a separate screen. For complex designs requiring multiple colors, rotary screen printing machines typically accommodate up to 20 screens. These screens rotate in contact with the substrate, and the print paste is fed from inside the screens. A metal squeegee blade forces the paste out from the inside of the screen. Globally, approximately 61% of all printed textile fabric is produced using the rotary screen method.

Flat Screen Printing:

As the name implies, flat screen printing utilizes flat screens rather than cylindrical ones used in rotary screen printing. These screens are woven meshes typically made from polyester or polyamide. They are stretched over rectangular frames, originally crafted from wood but now predominantly made from metal alloy for enhanced durability and reduced weight. Globally, approximately 23% of all printed textile fabric is produced using flat screen printing.

Ink-Jet Printing :

Digital ink-jet printing represents one of the most cutting-edge methods for printing textile fabrics. This versatile technique is compatible with a wide range of commercially available fabrics. While non-impact printing technologies have historically garnered significant interest in the graphic market, the potential advantages of reducing the time span from original design to final production have sparked extensive development in adapting this technology for textile and carpet printing processes. Machines developed for digital ink-jet printing typically fall into two classes: drop-on-demand (DOD) and continuous stream (CS).

Heat Transfer Printing:

Transfer printing techniques involve transferring a design from one medium to another. The Transfer printing techniques involve the transfer of a design from one medium to another. The most prevalent form is heat transfer printing, where the design is first printed onto special paper using conventional printing machinery. Subsequently, the paper is brought into close contact with the fabric and subjected to heat. This heat causes the dyes to sublime and transfer onto the fabric through the vapor phase. This method offers versatility and allows for intricate designs to be transferred onto fabrics with precision.

Carpet Printing:

The significance of carpet printing truly came to the forefront following the emergence of tufted carpets in the late 1950s. Prior to this, the market was primarily influenced by woven Wilton carpets and well-established Axminster designs. However, by the 1980s, tufted carpet production constituted approximately 80% (by area) of UK production. A substantial portion of this carpet production involved printing, driven by the limitations in the range of patterns achievable through tufting machines. There was a growing demand to enhance the flexibility of design for these types of carpet, thus propelling the adoption of printing techniques in the industry.

 Jet Spray Printing:

Jet Printing
is a non-contact application system initially devised for printing carpets, but its utilization has steadily expanded within the textile sector. This innovative technique imparts designs onto fabrics by precisely spraying colors through nozzles in a controlled manner. The process offers enhanced precision and efficiency, making it a preferred choice for achieving intricate designs on textiles.

Warp Printing:

The process involves printing a design onto the sheet of warp yarns prior to weaving. The filling typically remains either white or a neutral color, resulting in a grayed effect in the areas of the design. This method allows for the creation of subtle and nuanced patterns within the fabric, enhancing its visual appeal and texture.

Resist Printing:

The described method is known as resist printing, wherein the design can be created in two ways:

  1. Applying Resist Agent Before Dyeing: Initially, a resist agent is applied in the desired design areas, preventing dye penetration. Subsequently, the fabric is dyed, resulting in the design remaining white while the rest of the fabric absorbs the dye.
  2. Incorporating Resist Agent and Dye in Paste: Alternatively, the paste used for the design includes both a resist agent and a dye. When applied, the resist agent prevents dye penetration in the design areas, ensuring that the color of the design remains unaffected by the subsequent dyeing of the fabric background. This method allows for the creation of intricate and colorful designs with precise control over the coloration.

Flock Printing:

Flocking is a technique involving the deposition of numerous small fiber particles, known as ‘flock’, onto the surface of a fabric to create a design. This method is exemplified by flock printing, wherein an adhesive is initially printed onto the fabric. Subsequently, in the second stage, an effect material is applied and fixed onto the adhesive.

In flock printing, short staple fibers (flocks, measuring 0.3–3 mm) are adhered to the adhesive layer using an electrostatic field (20–60 kV). This process also aligns the fibers perpendicular to the fabric surface, resulting in a plush, velvet-like texture.

Various effect materials can be utilized in flock printing:

  • Finely chopped thin plastic particles produce a glitter effect.
  • Metal film can be affixed to serve as a conductive surface layer or to achieve a metallic effect.

Burn-Out Printing:

Burn-out printing is a method utilized to achieve a raised design on a sheer ground. In this process, the design is applied to a fabric woven with pairs of threads composed of different fibers. A special chemical is employed to apply the design onto the fabric. Subsequently, one of the fibers in the fabric is selectively destroyed through chemical action, resulting in the desired raised design.

Burn-out printing is frequently employed on velvet fabrics to create intricate and textured patterns. The output of this process is commonly referred to as a burn out print, characterized by its unique raised design on a sheer background.

 Non-fabric Printing:

Indeed, printing techniques can be implemented at various pre-stages in textile production, such as on sliver yarn and warp beams, thereby enabling the creation of distinctive and irregular patterns. By applying printing methods at these early stages, textile manufacturers can introduce unique designs and textures to the fabric even before it undergoes further processing. This approach offers greater flexibility and creativity in textile design, allowing for the production of innovative and visually captivating fabrics with special irregular patterns.

Blotch Printing:

Blotch printing is a distinctive process in which the background color of a design is printed instead of being dyed. As a result, the reverse side of the fabric typically remains white. This technique involves direct printing, where both the background color and the design are printed onto a white fabric, often in a single operation. Various methods such as block, roller, or screen printing may be employed in this process. During printing, the ground color is transferred from the cylinder, while the motif preserves the original hue of the cloth, resulting in a visually striking and unique effect.

 Pigment Printing:

Pigment printing is a method that employs pigments rather than dyes. Unlike dyes, pigments do not permeate the fiber; instead, they are adhered to the fabric’s surface using synthetic resins. After application, these resins are cured to render the pigments insoluble. Typically, the pigments are insoluble themselves. They are applied in the form of water-in-oil or oil-in-water emulsions of pigment pastes and resins.

The colors achieved through pigment printing are vibrant and vivid, offering a bold appearance to the fabric. However, they may be susceptible to crocking, where the color transfers upon rubbing. Despite this limitation, pigment printing remains a popular choice due to its ability to produce bright and enduring colors on fabric surfaces.

Photo Printing:

Photo printing
involves coating the fabric with a light-sensitive chemical, enabling the reproduction of any photograph on the fabric surface. This process utilizes controlled light passing through a negative or photo film, allowing precise details of the photo to be transferred onto the fabric.

The fabric, coated with the light-sensitive chemical, captures the image as the controlled light passes through the negative or photo film. This results in a faithful reproduction of the photograph on the fabric, preserving the intricate details and nuances of the original image. Photo printing offers a versatile and visually stunning way to customize fabric with intricate designs and vibrant imagery.

Photographic Printing:

Photogravure printing
is a technique that involves printing from photoengraved rollers, resulting in designs that resemble photographs in their level of detail and realism. This method utilizes rollers that have been engraved with photographic images, allowing for the precise reproduction of complex designs.

In addition to using photoengraved rollers, the designs can also be transferred onto a silk screen, which is then employed in the screen printing process. This allows for the creation of intricate designs with photographic quality on various fabric surfaces. Photogravure printing offers a sophisticated and high-resolution printing solution for achieving lifelike images on fabric.

Electrostatic Printing:

In electrostatic printing, a plate carrying an electrostatic charge is positioned behind the fabric. This charge attracts powdered dyes or ink onto the fabric surface. Simultaneously, a stencil of the desired design is placed between the fabric and the powder supply to ensure precise application of the design.

The process involves spreading a mixture of dye and resin onto a screen bearing the designated design. The fabric is then passed into an electrostatic field situated under the screen. The electrostatic field effectively pulls the dye-resin mixture through the pattern area onto the fabric, ensuring accurate and controlled application of the design. Electrostatic printing offers a methodical and precise approach to applying intricate designs onto fabric surfaces.

Direct Printing:

Direct printing is a process where colors for desired designs are applied directly onto either white or pre-dyed cloth surfaces. This method stands apart from discharge printing and resist printing techniques. In direct printing, the colors are directly applied onto the fabric without any intermediary steps, resulting in vibrant and precise designs. This straightforward approach allows for efficient and effective creation of colorful patterns and designs on textile surfaces.

Discharge Printing:

In “white” discharge printing, the fabric undergoes piece dyeing first, followed by printing with a paste containing a chemical that reduces the dye. This reduction process removes the color from the areas where white designs are desired, creating a striking contrast against the dyed background. On the other hand, in “colored” discharge printing, a specific color is added to the discharge paste. This addition enables the replacement of the discharged color with another shade, adding depth and complexity to the design by introducing new hues into the printed motifs.

Tie Dyeing:

Tie dyeing
is a captivating technique where the fabric is manipulated and bound with firm knots before being submerged into a dye bath. During the dyeing process, the outer layers of the fabric absorb the dye, while the areas bound by the knots remain untouched, creating distinctive patterns.

This method offers a wide range of possibilities for creating unique designs and effects. One popular variant of tie dyeing is ikat dyeing, where bundles of warp and/or weft yarns are intricately tied and dyed before being woven into fabric. This results in mesmerizing patterns that appear as if they were woven directly into the fabric.

Another fascinating form of tie dyeing is plangi dyeing, which involves gathering, folding, or rolling the fabric in specific ways and securing it with stitching before dyeing. This technique allows for the creation of precise patterns and designs, resulting in visually striking textiles.

Tie dyeing is prized for its versatility and ability to produce vibrant, eye-catching designs. From bold and psychedelic swirls to intricate geometric motifs, tie dyeing offers endless opportunities for artistic expression and creativity in textile design.

Batik Printing:

Batik printing
represents a time-honored method where a wax resist is meticulously applied to fabric, creating intricate patterns and designs. The fabric is then dyed using conventional dyeing techniques. Once the dyeing process is complete, the wax resist is removed, revealing the areas of the fabric where the resist was applied.

One notable variation of batik printing involves the use of indigo dye, a rich and vibrant blue hue. As the fabric undergoes the dyeing process with indigo, the waxy layer applied as a resist cracks, allowing the dye to seep into these fissures. This unique interaction between the wax resist and the indigo dye results in the distinctive appearance characteristic of batik textiles.

Batik printing is celebrated for its meticulous craftsmanship and the stunningly intricate designs it produces. From traditional motifs to contemporary patterns, batik textiles showcase the artistic prowess of the craftsmen and the rich cultural heritage associated with this ancient printing technique.


Kalamkari, an ancient and exquisite textile craft originating from India, involves the intricate painting and printing of fabrics using pens (kalam) loaded with dyes and mordants. This traditional technique combines the artistry of hand-drawn outlines with the precision of pen work to create stunning designs on fabric.

The process begins with the printing of the outline of the design onto the fabric, typically done using a kalam or specialized pen. Once the outlines are established, artisans meticulously fill in the designs with vibrant colors and intricate patterns, using the same pens loaded with a combination of dyes and mordants. This meticulous process allows for a remarkable level of detail and precision in the final artwork.

Kalamkari holds deep cultural significance in India, with its roots traced back to the ancient temples where it was practiced as a form of artistic expression and religious devotion. The craft has evolved over centuries, with artisans passing down their skills and techniques from generation to generation.

Today, kalamkari continues to captivate audiences with its timeless beauty and exquisite craftsmanship. From intricately painted sarees and wall hangings to vibrant tapestries and home decor items, kalamkari textiles are cherished for their rich history, intricate designs, and unparalleled artistry. Each piece bears the unmistakable mark of the artisan’s skill and creativity, making kalamkari a cherished art form that celebrates India’s cultural heritage.

Space Dyeing:

Space Dyeing is a specialized yarn printing technique that involves the application of color using jet sprays. In space dyeing machines, a series of 64 jet sprays are utilized, allowing for the accommodation of up to 8 different colors. This method enables the creation of yarns with unique and distinctive color patterns.

One of the distinguishing features of space dyeing is the absence of uniformity or repetition in the color designs produced. Each yarn is treated individually, resulting in a varied and irregular distribution of colors along its length. As a result, when these dyed yarns are woven or knitted into fabrics, they exhibit a captivating and one-of-a-kind appearance.

The lack of uniformity in color distribution gives space-dyed yarns a special aesthetic appeal, making them ideal for adding visual interest and depth to textile products. Fabrics made from space-dyed yarns often feature dynamic and multicolored patterns that evoke a sense of creativity and uniqueness.

Overall, space dyeing offers textile designers and manufacturers a versatile method for creating yarns with distinctive color effects. By harnessing the power of jet spray technology, space dyeing enables the production of yarns that stand out for their individuality and artistic flair.

All Over Printing:

All Over Printing (AOP) is a specialized technique in textile printing that enables a specific design to be seamlessly repeated across the entirety of the fabric surface. This continuous repetition of the design enhances the visual appeal of the fabric, making it more attractive and eye-catching.

Fabrics produced using AOP technology find applications across various sectors, including denim products such as woven shirts, T-shirts, ladies gowns, tops, Punjabi, woven pants, as well as home textiles. By employing AOP, manufacturers can create unique and visually engaging fabric designs that stand out in the market.

The AOP process involves meticulously applying the chosen design to the entire fabric surface, ensuring uniformity and consistency across the entire length and width of the fabric. This method allows for intricate patterns, vibrant colors, and detailed designs to be reproduced seamlessly, resulting in striking finished products.

Overall, All Over Printing offers designers and manufacturers a versatile and creative approach to textile design, enabling the production of visually captivating fabrics that cater to a wide range of fashion and home décor applications.

Two-phase Printing:

Two-phase printing is a specialized technique where the pattern printing and dyestuff fixation processes are divided into distinct stages, offering precise control over color application and fixation. Here’s how the process typically works:

  1. Pattern Printing: Initially, the desired pattern or design is printed onto the fabric using the chosen dye or pigment. This printing phase ensures that the design is accurately transferred onto the fabric surface according to the desired specifications.
  2. Intermediate Drying: Following the printing of the pattern, the fabric undergoes an intermediate drying stage. This allows the printed dye or pigment to set onto the fabric surface before the fixation process begins.
  3. Dyestuff Fixation: In the second phase of the process, the printed fabric is subjected to a fixation treatment. This involves treating the fabric with a specific chemical solution or agent that helps to permanently set the dye or pigment onto the fabric fibers. For example, reactive dyes may be fixed using a concentrated alkali solution, while vat dyes can be fixed using a reducing agent.

By separating the printing and fixation stages, two-phase printing enables more precise control over the color application and fixation process. It allows for optimal dye penetration and adherence to the fabric fibers, resulting in vibrant, long-lasting colors and patterns. Additionally, this method can be adapted to various types of dyes and fabrics, offering flexibility and versatility in textile printing processes.

 Stencil Printing:

Stencil printing
involves a meticulous process where a design is meticulously crafted by cutting shapes into cardboard, wood, or metal to create stencils. These stencils can vary in complexity, featuring fine delicate designs or larger open spaces through which color is applied onto the fabric. The method typically follows these steps:

  1. Design Creation: The desired design is meticulously crafted by cutting out shapes from a sheet of stout paper or thin metal. The cut-out portions represent the areas that will remain uncolored or reserved on the fabric.
  2. Stencil Placement: The prepared stencil is carefully positioned onto the fabric surface that is to be decorated.
  3. Color Application: Using brushes or other applicators, color is carefully brushed or spread through the openings or interstices of the stencil onto the fabric. The stencil acts as a barrier, guiding the application of color and ensuring precision in the design.

Stencil printing offers versatility in design and can be used to create intricate patterns or bold motifs on various types of fabrics. It allows for precise control over color application, making it suitable for both fine details and larger areas of color. This method enables artists and designers to achieve unique and visually striking results in textile decoration.

Duplex Printing:

Duplex printing is a specialized method used to imprint a pattern or design on both sides of a fabric with equal clarity and precision. This process can be accomplished through two main approaches:

  1. Two-step roller printing: In this method, the fabric undergoes printing on each side separately in two distinct operations using a roller printing machine. Each side of the fabric is subjected to the printing process individually to ensure uniformity and clarity of the design.
  2. Single-step duplex printing: Alternatively, a duplex printing machine enables the simultaneous printing of both sides of the fabric in a single operation. This streamlined approach offers efficiency and consistency, ensuring that the design is evenly transferred to both surfaces of the fabric.

Both methods of duplex printing result in fabrics with visually appealing patterns or motifs that are seamlessly replicated on both the front and back sides, enhancing the overall aesthetic appeal and versatility of the textile material.

Here are the references:

  1. Purushothama, B. (Ed.). (Year). Handbook of Value Addition Processes for Fabrics.
  2. Wardman, R. H. (Year). An Introduction to Textile Coloration: Principles and Practice.
  3. Nawab, Y. (Ed.). (Year). Textile Engineering – An Introduction.
  4. Bechtold, T., & Pham, T. (Year). Textile Chemistry.
  5. Miles, L. W. C. (Ed.). (Year). Textile Printing (Revised Second Edition).

These references seem like valuable sources for in-depth information on various aspects of textile processes and printing.

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