China Fabric Printing: How to Choose Fabrics for Printing

Not all fabrics are created equal when it comes to custom printed fabrics from China. Depending on printing techniques, different fabrics serve different purposes.  First, let’s have an idea how fabrics are categorized.

Different categories of fabrics
There’re mainly three types of fabrics: natural fabric, synthetic fiber and a blend of the two.

Natural fabrics
As the name suggests, these are natural textiles made from plants, vegetables and animals. The fibers are extracted from natural resources and process into textiles. For example, silk is extracted from silk worms while wool from sheep.

Base Fabrics for Custom Fabric Printing
Base Fabrics for Custom Fabric Printing

The fibers extracted from plants and vegetables can be processed into different types of textiles, ie, bamboo, cotton, linen(flax), pina(pineapple), etc.

The fibers are usually extracted from hair, skin or secretions of animals. Some of the popular animal based fibers are cashmere, wool, angora, goat and sheep.

Synthetic fabrics
As you can tell by the name, these fabrics are man-made. Synthetic fabrics used to get a bad reputation coz they feel like plastic, however, with constant improving, they look so good now it can be quite challenging to tell them apart. Some are even breathable and sustainable .

In terms of elasticity and impermeability, synthetic fabrics are much better than natural ones, making them the second to none choice for sportswear. Some of the popular synthetic fibers are acrylic, nylon, polyester, rayon, spandex, viscose and so on.

Then how to choose fabrics matching different printing techniques? First we have to explain different types of printing techniques: digital printing, screen printing, transfer printing and sublimation.

Digital Printing
Preferred fabrics: natural fabrics.
The same theory with the digital printer in your office, digital fabric printing prints the designs directly onto your fabric It works perfectly for designs featuring intricate details and multiple colors.

Screen Printing
Preferred fabrics: natural fabrics

Screen printing onto fabric involves applying ink through a mesh screen onto the fabric. Water based inks are used to go through the permeable area. It works perfectly on cotton, polyester and blended materials. If your design features vibrant, intense colors, screen printing is a second to none choice.

Transfer Printing
Preferred fabrics: synthetic fabric
There’re many kinds of transfer printing techniques, one of the most popular is CAP cut vinyl that uses computer to cut a design out of an adhesive vinyl. Then use heat to transfer the design from a special piece of paper onto the fabric. Transfer printing onto fabric works on virtually any type of fabric, however, the best results are on synthetic fabrics as transfers are also synthetic.

Unlike others, sublimation is one of the most revolutionizing printing techniques that not only prints but also melts pigments onto the fabric and become part of it. It works perfectly on synthetic fabrics especially polyester.

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