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C.W.M. Yuen, S.K.A. Ku, P.S. Choi and C.W. Kan*
Institute of Textiles and Clothing, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom,
Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR, China
Tel.: (852) 2766 6443, Fax: (852) 2773 1432
Optimum conditions involving the contents of the pretreatment print paste and the steaming
time for ink-jet printing were newly developed through orthogonal analysis. Cotton fabric
treated under the newly developed optimum conditions could achieve a high colour yield for
ink-jet printing similar to that of the commercially pretreated cotton fabric available in the
market. The results are discussed thoroughly in this paper.

Ink-jet printing, pretreatment print paste, sodium alginate, sodium bicarbonate,

urea and steaming time


In recent years, there has been increasing interest in the application of ink-jet printing in the
textile market. The technique of ink-jet printing offers benefits such as speed, flexibility,
creativity, cleanliness, competitiveness and eco-friendliness (Gupta 2001, van Parys 2002).
However, the production process of ink-jet printing for cotton fabric with reactive dye is
different from that of the conventional printing process (Aston et al. 1993, Schulz 2002).
In the conventional textile printing of cotton fabric, the reactive dye is applied with alkali and
other chemicals in the form of a print paste. The print is then normally steamed to fix the dye
onto the cotton fabric and then washed thoroughly to remove any unreacted dye, chemicals
and thickener. However, due to the requirement for purity and the specific conductivity
requirements for ink-jet printing (Aston et al. 1993, Siemensmeyer et al. 1999, Schulz 2002,
Zhou and Li 2002), none of the conventional printing chemicals such as alkali, urea and
sodium alginate thickener can be directly incorporated into the ink formulation. As a result,
cotton fabric needs to be pretreated with the printing chemicals used in conventional textile
printing. The chemicals necessary for fixing reactive dye should be padded onto the cotton
fabric prior to the stage of ink-jet printing.
For the ink-jet printing of cotton fabric with reactive dyes, the contents of the pretreatment
print paste (i.e. alginate, urea and alkali) and the steaming time after ink-jet printing, are the
main factors affecting the final colour yield of the printed cotton fabric (Aston et al. 1993).
Hence, the findings from this study can provide a better understanding of the effect of
pretreatment print paste and steaming time on the colour yield of ink-jet printed cotton fabric.
Furthermore, the optimum conditions for the printing process can also be determined.
Most of the commercially pretreated cotton fabrics available in the market for ink-jet printing
have been padded with pretreatment print paste. However, for commercial reasons, the
contents of this paste are not disclosed, resulting in very high prices for this type of fabric.
RJTA Vol. 7 No. 2