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Digital Textile Printing: The New Era in Textile Industry

Published: July 22, 2021
Author: Manali bhanushali

In this digital era, the Textile Industry has witnessed exceptional growth in the digital printing sector. Digital printing technologies are rapidly growing and changing the face of the Textile printing industry with new types of applications. The use of digital technologies in Textile printing started ages ago (in the late 1980s). Since then, it has been in widespread usage. It has opened doors for clean, efficient, profitable manufacturing of textile products. Now almost anything can be printed on fabric with ease and perfection using digital printing technology.

What is Digital Textile Printing?

Digital textile printing is an inkjet-based method of printing colorants on textiles and garments and it is highly flexible and has great potential in the patterning and design of textiles. This method is considered to be the ‘sustainable’ printing technology which is quite different from the traditional textile printing as it has no negative environmental impact.

To print digitally on the fabrics, the dye-sublimation printing technique is used which uses heat to transfer dye onto the fabric. Pre-heating the fabric is important in digital printing because this ensures that the fabric will hold the inkwell and different colors can be attained through this process.

Types of Digital Textile Printing Process

  • Direct Print

Direct to printing (DTP) is a process which involves printing on textiles using specialized water-based ink jet technology and then drying the fabric. Direct printing requires the garment be pre-treated (heat-pressed into the fabric causing the fibres of the fabric to lay down) with a Pre-treatment machine.


  • Discharge Print

Discharge printing, also called Extract Printing is a process of screen printing where a design is applied to dyed fabric by printing a bleaching agent to bleach out the dye through a chemical process that uses discharge inks.

  • Resist Print

Resist printing is a method of printing on fabrics in a pattern by pre-treating the designed areas to resist penetration by the dye.

  • Pigment Print

Pigment printing involves the pigment ink printing process using insoluble color particles that are held on the surface of a fabric by a binding and a thickening agent. This process colors only the surface of the fabric. The colors do not penetrate into the fibres and therefore, the underneath remains in its natural, usually white, colour.

  • Reactive Print

Reactive printing method uses reactive dyes, printed via inkjet printing onto pre-treated fabrics, which are then steamed with a high heat in order to set the dye into the fabric., and then washed. This printing method is used to permanently print into the fibres of a fabric.

  • Disperse Print

Disperse ink printing is the most widely known type of digital textile printing. This ink is used in the dye-sublimation printing process. Disperse printing is done using disperse inks for the dyeing of polyester and related hydrophobic fibers, becoming part of the textile itself. This is a very sustainable process because it does not require any before preparation or washing after printing, so less water consumption, less power consumption.

Digital Textile Printing Market

The global market of Digital Textile Printing is expected to grow at a rate of 13.09% from 2020 to 2027 and reach $8.8 billion by 2027. As per 2019, the global digital textile printing market was valued at $2.2 billion. In this era of digital textile printing, 15 billion meters of fabric is being printed every day. In the textile industry, the majority of textile printing is done in conventional methods but there is a rapid growing interest for digital printing on textiles. The demand for Digital Textile Printing for apparel and home furnishings is ever increasing due to the various technological developments and worldwide adaptation of the technologies.

With the advancement of new and innovative technologies Digital textile printing processes are further developing. Numerous textile entrepreneurs are embracing these sustainable efficient manufacturing practices in every sector of the textile industry. Prior to the use of digital technologies in textile printing, Textile industry consumed huge amounts of energy and water, affecting the environment by using dye stuff and numerous toxic chemicals in the manufacturing process of textile fabrics, printing, inks, and the finishing of products. But the advent of Digital Printing technology in the textile industry saved billion litres of water worldwide. It is offering a sustainable solution to the textile printing sector by moving forward to replace unsustainable and inefficient manufacturing practices. Hence, it can be said that the Digital Textile Printing industry is developing and progressing at a fast rate with new inventions are carried out which makes textile printing more easy, reliable, less water and energy consuming.

Article By:

Somasree Roy

Intern, Textile value Chain

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