The Basics of Cashmere Digital Printing and Screen Printing
Both knitting and weaving follow a set of rules to create patterns. To expand the scope of artistic expression, printing and dyeing are commonly used.
One Important Thing to Know
Before anything, it should always be remembered first that all types of printing and dyeing are done on undyed raw cashmere wool fabric, which hasn’t been chemically treated so its dyestuff affinity is most ideal.
Also, if there are different layers of colors, it is always the lighter colors that are applied first since it’s easier for darker tones to print on lighter ones, not vice versa.
Digital Printing and Screen Printing
Digital printing and screen printing are the two most commonly used methods because with these two, basically all types of patterns can be created.
A digital printer is very similar to an office printer. The difference is that an office printer prints on paper, while a digital printers does that on cashmere wool fabric with specialized inks. Since raw fabrics are digitally printed one by one, production capacity of cashmere digital printing is limited by the number of printers. Normally, it takes each printer about 20 minutes to print a scarf/stole.
Screen printing is done on a flat-bed where fabrics are stretched within a frame with meshes. And different colors are applied one by one(always from light colors to dark ones) to achieve a multi-color pattern.
Colors in digital printing are produced by mixing inks in different proportions by computer so the printing can be very detailed with many colors and gradations.
On the other hand, since each color is applied separately with screen printing, there is a limit to the total number of colors to be printed on the fabric before quality deteriorates. That number is normally within 10. Compared to digital printing, what screen printing produces is patterns with clearly defined color edges.
Another difference is that screen printing has stronger ink penetration. Sometimes(not often), the front side of a digitally printed scarf might be more saturated than the reverse side as a result of bad ink penetration. This seldom happens with screen printing.
Digital printing is most commonly used on thin light worsted cashmere and wool products, the reason being the nozzles of a digital printer are easily blocked by the loose fiber on the surface of the fabric due to static electricity. As a result, only fabrics with a clean surface are suitable for digital printing.
Screen printing can be applied to both thin worsted products and thick woolen ones. When applied to the latter, screen printing makes very clean patterns on them because it has no problems of nozzles blocking. However, we have to bear in mind that it’s impossible for inks to penetrate through the thick woolen fabric, so the front side and the back side of the fabric need to be printed separately, which means these two patterns can be completely different.
Below is a quick summary for the differences between these two printing methods.
Other Types of Prints
Besides digital and screen printing, there are other methods such as ombre dye, tie dye, and hand printing etc. These are less popular but better at achieving certain effects. We’ll have another article dedicated to these three so stay tuned if you’re interested.