Digital Textile Printing

Nate Metz CNST333-81

A chapter in our textbook gave a basic introduction to it in the greater context of textile production. It is important to recognize that with the current technology of digital textile printing.techexchange. customers. etc) on digital textile printing. ability to produce short-run . there is very little literature in print on the subject. After approval from the professor and the Honor’s program. I began to do some more in-depth research on digital textile printing. A Primer in Digital Textile Printing. the textile industry can sell their excellent command of printing. We began the course with basic textile design using Lectra U4ia and I thought that it would be interesting and exciting to create an individual honors section so that I could develop some of my own digital textile prints. Most companies have only adopted digital textile printing to cut the cost of sampling. Because digital textile printing is such a new development in the apparel industry. May 2001 Much of the holdup of the expansion of digital textile printing is coming from the textile industry itself. guest columnists. It also includes a search function to assist in finding articles and information. In addition to the textbooks for the course. They are reluctant to the change. I have summarized two articles that I found particularly useful in my research below.html>. A great resource was <http://www. my main research tool was the Internet. The site offers an extensive library of articles from variety of sources (editors.Metz 1 I first learned about digital textile printing in my CNST333 course. industry experts. noting that it is too slow and too expensive.com/textile-printing. while maintaining conventional methods for mass production.

August 2001 Textile printing has existed since people first started to wear clothing. textiles must be washable. Additional considerations include stretchability. resulting in a mindset that focuses on what the digital technology can’t do. end use requirements (outdoor. lightfast. One of the major obstacles in digital textile printing is that textiles (more so than paper) vary in fiber content (alone changes many of the factors involved with printing). flexibility. cutting systems. The entire process has to be designed to control bleeding. CAD systems. screens and rollers became the . color. The Effect of Digital Textile Printing Technology on Textile Design Styles. as opposed to what it can. the end use of the printed textile plays an integral role in the type of ink and printing process that is used. and yarn size…plus. protective. and quick turn around (currently lacking from industry as result of historical analog technology). and new marketing techniques to sell the digital textile printing technology. It is necessary to rethink the overall system of textile printing. but achieve the hand. Think outside the box: we need a new approach when dealing with these new products. crock resistant. ink absorbency.Metz 2 production. and touch/feel of finished product. Naturally. the textile fabric needs to be pre-treated for ink absorbency and color vibrancy. During the industrial revolution. thickness. The current analog system has a good 30-year history that for the most part has remained unchanged. and wearable. porous/textured surface. Also because current digital textile printing uses direct inkjet printing. registration points. weight. most often through block printing. and fastness of the finished textile. etc. etc). athletic.

Also traditionally. etc. and strike off). has been utilized to expedite the design process (design alteration. etc. Applying these concepts creates new trends and design movements. and experimental looks of textile design are cropping up in different markets by small print shops. To achieve a 3-D motif.) have been added to the standard CYMK coloration gradients to create a more accurate. Also. green. Another difference is that conventional printers can be used for direct. color system. and students. methods while the digital textile printing has only been developed for direct printing. And. . Photographic software like Adobe Photoshop has been instrumental in this development. those consumers who prefer printed textiles choose printed textiles that reflect the same historical image that they are accustomed to purchasing. or in the number of repeats (“layers” or number of colors used in the print). and superimposing to textile print designs. but instead.Metz 3 most common method of printing on textiles. vibration. additional colors (orange. colorways. which means that any graphic that can be printed onto paper can be printed onto textiles. Also. which creates flat shapes. and complex. warp print. which can be avant-garde or very commercial. plisse. each screen or roller is engraved and assigned to a color. blurring. devore. independent designers. reflection. Because of this trend. Digitally printed textiles are immerging in high-end fashion. One of the major appeals for digital textile printing is the process color application. several flat layers must be printed on top of each other. shimmer. layering. discharge. translucent. blue. the emergence of digital textile printing has not influenced the style of printed textiles. They combine design concepts like shadow. there is no restriction in terms of repeat size.

in theory. and commercially viable.Metz 4 The best way to understand the developments in digital textile printing and the way that it is influencing the textile markets is to look at screen printing. screen printing unleashed a new kind of freedom for creativity allowing designers to experiment with multiple images. digital textile printing is allowing textiles to become more creative. However. During its debut. anyone to print anything. I could focus on my own digital textile prints. With this technology allowing. Some think that there will be a power shift from a few textile mills to many smaller. innovative. selecting some of my favorite images. I began looking through my person portfolio of digital photographs. critical consideration need-be applied to design quality and aesthetics. Many think that digital textile printing is on a similar trajectory to becoming mainstream. more improvement in terms of printing speed is necessary for digital textile printing to become mainstream. independent digital textile print shops. Future developments mean that the creative freedom of digitally printed textiles will continue to expand. Now that I had a greater understanding of digital textile printing and its place in the apparel industry. Overall. Independent designers are able to create custom textiles with less effort. and without having to depend so heavily on textile designers and large textile mills. Designers can now create textile prints that could function as a graphic advertisement instead of a conventional pattern that is set into repeat. Then I met with my professor to narrow down my selections to 3-4 images that .

821” x 5. curves. After many hours of experimenting and manipulating. and other photo editing tools. I used LectraU4ia to set them into repeatable tiles. The next step was to read through some of the Adobe Photoshop CS tutorial and help files. After developing the main motifs of my favorite prints. slate. cement) and water. Horizontally and vertically offset image Applied healing brush to blend edges to create repeatable tile Saved as TIF files in 8 bit RGB color with a 300 DPI Repeatable tile size: 6.12” . These tools served as the basis for creating the motifs for my prints. I developed some of my first prints. I really enjoy the graphic qualities of my original photograph and felt that the image as is would make an imaginative fabric print. Obviously this process took many hours to finalize the digital textile prints. I began first with my photograph of churning water.Metz 5 might produce some of the most interesting prints. as well as a Photoshop CS book to learn about filters. We decided to focus on images that dealt with rocks in all forms (sand.

Metz 6 Inverted color using exact photo negative Replaced black and dark shades with various light greens Adjusted shadows 2% and highlights 92% Replaced white with purple Saved file under same settings as first water motif Applied trace contour filter with level 84 on upper edge Adjusted color curves in 179 and out 75. twice Created repeatable tile in Lectra U4ia using the clipboard (copy & paste) .

Metz 7 Used eye dropper tool to select several cool. pastel hues from motif Added stripes in varying levels of transparency with new colors Removed stripes Created photographic negative Used color curves to increase contrast .

Metz 8 Combined several of these ideas into one motif Although I chose the previous motif as my final. Using magic wand. selected all of the white areas and applied green neon glow Applied crystallized filter using size 10 Cut four squares at 296 x 296 pixels . I reworked the water some more.

I used Photoshop to save the original image in an 8 bit RGB TIF file.Metz 9 Pasted into a 592 x 592 pixels square Replaced yellow hues with blue hues Applied chrome filter Adjust color curves to increase contrast I worked with an image of rocks from a cliff in Pennsylvania. I then used U4ia to develop a repeat. Set drop 1 / 2 Used clipboard (copy & paste) to select pieces of rocks and snow to blend image Saved repeatable tile at 300 DPI .

Developed color palette using eye-dropper tool sky blue tan mountain haze marina roof tile building shadow tree steel structure Set drop 1 / 3 Filled background with sky blue Used clipboard (copy & paste) to collect buildings and pavement into pattern Saved repeatable tile . Again. Spain.Metz 10 Another set of images came from some aerial shots of architecture in Barcelona. I used Photoshop to resave the file and then opened it in U4ia to develop the repeatable tile.

com/index.digitaltextile. textile sampling is a bonus. They can print sample fabric for pre-production design and sales needs.html Based out of North Carolina. The most common printing technology used is Lectra Sapphire and Lectra Amber. which is only used for non-apparel products. B3 claims to provide variety of digital textile printing services. I was unable to discover why the printing of textiles used a different color setup. Here are three of the companies that I found who do digital textile printing: B3 Designs: Fabric Art http://www. DuPont has developed Artistri and Hewlett Packard has developed HP Designjet. They will print 1 to 1000 yards in multiple colorways. but is most likely just resultant of the physical printers that have been developed. Most of the printers that I was able to contact required RGB color files as opposed to the traditional CYMK settings. or motifs up to 6’ wide. Digital Textile Printing http://www. Among others. The company refused to disclose the type of software and printing technology used to print their products. They work best with RGB .b3designsolutions.com/ .Metz 11 After I had my finalized digital textile prints saved.) turn around. and have a one week (approx. continuous yardage. I researched some software companies and other independent companies that I would be able to outsource the actual printing to. leaving the actual quality of the product in question.tiff files.

lectra. The three day conference sponsored by [TC]2 and AATCC was intended to allow members of all facets of the apparel industry to congregate. textile products. twills.Metz 12 A world-wide resource for all things digital textile printing: printing equipment. chiffon. Boasts top-end quality. Contact company for exclusive developments. georgette. and textile design software. completing short sampling orders in 4 weeks or less. and machinery. New York that would be able to do the printing. lycra. file requirements. At the end of October 2004. Company based out of Denmark. and learn about the latest developments of . You can purchase the fabric in a variety of substrates directly from them. With a cost of $800. share.00+ I was unable to attend.html>. or they will sell at discount pricing with annual contracts with regular supply regardless of volume.tiff files with a minimum of 300 DPI. And as with the other printers. Stork is based in Europe. Prefers designs in RGB . handle. Website includes an FAQ covering color fastness. printing services.tiff files with a minimum resolution of 300 DPI. You can supply fabric. etc (all with a varying mome values). they prefer to work with RGB . but shipping and handling fees apply to all other orders.com/prints/ Using Lectra Sapphire <http://www. there was a digital textile printing conference held in North Carolina. They offer free shipping within the city.com/en/textiles/products/ sapphire_textiles. and silk fabrics: plain satin. Can print on cotton. They have a sister office in New York. Stork Digital Printing http://stork.

Technology has further increased this customizability. I look forward to developing more of my own digital textile prints to expand my portfolio. To be able to print photographic qualities motifs onto fabric is huge for the apparel industry because of the range of options available to designers. However. and J. either through customized prints or surface embellishments. Mike Compton from DuPont Artistri.Metz 13 digital textile printing. this project has been very exciting. the overall cost will eventually begin to decrease. As with other industries. . Designers have always been able to customize fabric. Overall. Some of the highlighted presenters included Kerry King from [TC]2. Campbell from Iowa State University. it comes at a great cost: upwards of $75-$100 per yard depending on volume.R. and one day hope to actually have some textiles printed. as the implementation of digital textile printing increases.