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FLAAR Reports’s Textile Glossary: Wide-format Textile Printing Terms

Textile printed sample. FLAAR Photo Archive.

The purpose of this textile glossary is to help printshop owners, managers, printer operators, as well as anyone and everyone in the wide-format inkjet printer industry to better understand the jargon used in inkjet printing for fabrics.

Most textile glossaries on the Internet are copied, with no bibliography, and often the entire glossary is copied-and-pasted. We have a bibliography and most of our descriptions are based on our own experience with wide-format printing on fabrics.


For more information Suscribe and download our textile glossary report.

FLAAR Reports’s Textile Glossary:
Wide-format Textile Printing Terms


Acid dye textile ink, one of several special inks for inkjet textiles. Acid dye inks are for synthetic materials such as lycra, nylon, spandex, as well as natural silk, wool, and leather.

Askewed or bias, fabric defect where filling yarns are not square with warp yarns on woven fabrics or where courses are not square with wale lines on knits.

Bias, a line diagonal to the grain of a fabric. A line at a 45-degree angle to the selvage often utilized in the cutting of garments for smoother fit

Disperse dye inks, are for direct dye sublimation onto polyester inkjet textiles. Disperse dyes are for printing onto polyester and most synthetic fabrics, such as rayon or satin. Synthetic fibers: hydrophobic fabrics. After printing you need to sublimate the fabric to fix the color.

Dye sublimation, is a chemical process whereby the final color on the cloth is created from a liquid (the ink) imprinting on cloth or transfer paper and drying or curing to a “solid” and then the heat turns the image (color) into a gas (a vapor) to deposit its color or merge the color within the polyester.

Fabric, a cloth produced especially by knitting, weaving, or felting fibers.

Fixation unit, a machine used to fix disperse dye ink colors onto the printed fabric, by using hot air and a roll-to-roll mechanism to transport the fabric into the machine.

Grommet(s), can you easily put grommets in the fabric? A grommet is a large, metal-edged unit, which surrounds a hole in a garment. The hole is used to put a rope or comparable material to hang banners or signage.

Heat transfer is the use of heat (to sublimate the ink) and pressure to transfer the ink from the paper to the polyester related material.

Inkjet, a printer technology where ink is squirted through nozzles onto the printer paper or other material to form an image or character.

Linen, use reactive dye ink. A fabric made from linen fibers obtained from inside the woody stem of the flax plant. Linen fibers are much stronger and more lustrous than cotton. Linen fabrics are very cool and absorbent, but wrinkle very easily, unless blended with manufactured fibers.

Mesh fabric, is often defined as a loosely woven or knitted fabric that has a large number of closely spaced holes, frequently used for modern sports jerseys and other clothing.

Oversaturation, too much ink deposited onto a printed image, which leaves the substrate to buckle.

Pigment inks, have pigments instead of dye molecules. Pigmented textile inks have better longevity but are noticeably less colorful (lack pop in most cases).

Polyester, PET, a polymeric material that can accept dye-sublimation or disperse dye direct fixation.

pop, is jargon in wide-format inkjet printing (and other graphic arts) for meaning that colors stand out. Sometimes it means that colors change from dull to bright and thus pop out, so to speak. But a color that is bright from the beginning can also be referred to as pop. You may tend to get colors that pop from full dye sublimation (printing first on transfer paper) than direct-to-fabric with disperse dye (whose resulting colors may not pop as much).

Post-processing, might be considered comparable to the more technical print shop term “finishing.”

Raster Image Processor (RIP), Produces an image defined as a set of dots/pixels in a column-and-row format. Rasterisation is the process of determining values for the dots/pixels in a rendered image. The placing of ink in a random pattern on a print pleasing to the eye.

Reactive dye inks, used to print onto vegetable derived fabrics like cotton or linen. Direct printing onto pre-treated fabric. The dye is absorbed by the fabric. See also acid dye inks and disperse dye inks for inkjet textiles. Needs lots of pre- and post- work (saturated steam and washing).

Runner, fabric defect caused by broken needle. The runner will appear as vertical line. Most machines have a stopping device to stop the machine when a needle breaks.

Sizing, a fabric finish that adds weight, stiffness, and firmness. The purpose of this is to make the yarn smoother and stronger to withstand the strain of weaving, to provide an acceptable hand in the woven gray goods, and to increase fabric weight.

Solvent inks, use aggressive chemical solvents instead of water. Due to environmental and health concerns, some companies have switched to lite solvents. Lite solvents come in several flavors: one is simply less aggressive the other is evidently an oil-based solvent ink (used by Roland SolJet as an example).

Synthetic fabrics, fibers elaborated to increase and improve the supply of natural fibers that have been used in making cloth. Few examples of synthetic fibers are rayon, acetate, nylon, olefin, acrylic and polyester.

Technical textile is one whose extra strength allows it to be used for building wrap, billboard sized soft-signage, or car park tends.

Transfer paper, one major brand is Coldenhove; another is Beaver. Some ink chemistries work better on transfer paper than other textile ink chemistries.

If you want to learn more about textile printing terms, download the complete illustrated Textile Glossary by subscribing here.

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