Textile Related News

Fluorescent, Glow in the Dark, Phosphorescent or Neon Textile Inks?

Graphics One phosphorescence samples, in a dark environment exposed to UV-lights.

Printing onto textiles via transfer paper usually means using the traditional CMYK ink colors, in some cases you can include light cyan and light magenta. This is not completely negative, it just means the color gamut range is a bit limited and if your inks or media are not optimal, the printed result won’t be very innovative. To give your designs a bit of an edge, you can add to the mix fluorescent, photo luminescent or phosphorescent ink colors.

So what exactly are the differences among neon, fluorescent, glow in the dark and photo luminescent colors?

Neon colors:

This is a colloquial way of referring to fluorescent colors; the term neon should be applied when there is a presence of Neon gas in its composition, such as in neon signs. And even here it is not entire accurate since warm lights are filled with Neon gas and cool lights are filled with Argon gas. In dye sublimation inks sometimes the term neon is used for fluorescent inks made with a low bleed base, fluorescent pigments and a small portion of white to provide better printing coverage.

Fluorescent colors:

these colors appear when the fluorescence phenomenon occurs. Objects or in this case ink, absorb a color and emit another color with a longer wavelength, instead of reflecting it as a normal color would do. Fluorescent dye sublimation inks are made with fluorescent pigments and a high opacity base.

Photo luminescent (glow in the dark) colors:

the correct term is photo luminescent colors, AKA glow in the dark, this is the most extraordinary type of fluorescence, in which the ink absorbs UV light rays (imperceptible to humans) and stores them. Later, when placed in a dark environment they produce an after-glow (emission of light visible to humans).

Phosphorescent or UV reactive colors:

these are similar to photo luminescent colors that absorb UV light rays and produce a glow, but only when exposed to UV-lights.

So basically, we have 4 types of dye sublimation colors: regular colors CMYK, light cyan, light magenta, etc., fluorescent colors (very bright all the time), photo luminescent colors (colors that produce after-glow when exposed to darkness) and phosphorescent or UV reactive colors (colors that produce a glow when exposed to UV-lights).

Fluorescent t-shirt samples: DGI FabriJet on the left and Graphics One on the right. (FLAAR Photo Archive)

Fluorescent t-shirt samples: DGI FabriJet on the left and Graphics One on the right. (FLAAR Photo Archive)


Phosphorescent color samples from Gans Ink (left), InkBank (center) and Rainbow Chromoink (right) exposed to UV-lights in a dark environment (FLAAR Photo Archive).

Source: FLAAR Reports

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