Digital textile printing for fast fashion
by Abid Omar, Director Research & Development, Syntech
Fibres (Pvt.) Ltd.
Discover how digital textile printing enables fast fashion
brands in Pakistan to reduce their time to market, control
costs, keep their offer fresh with a diverse product mix.
Traditional textile printing processes require large minimum
order quantities, and two to three weeks to go from from design
to print. This restricts fashion brands from reacting quickly to
rapidly changing consumer demands. Digital textile printing is
changing that, and its rapid adoption amongst textile printers
in Pakistan and worldwide is proof. The popularity of the
digital prints in the fast fashion is evident from its
increasing presence in the retail business. New brands and
designers are taking advantage of the options digital printing
provides for higher profits and opportunities.
Advantages of the digital textile
The digital textile printing offers a number of advantages to
the textile printer that were not possible before in the
- Reduced manufacturing footprint and lower fixed costs by
removing the screen engraving, color separation and color
- Sustainable printing process through savings in energy,
water, chemical and dyestuff consumption.
- Improved equipment productivity by eliminating downtime
from color changeover and screen alignment steps.
The benefits to the customer are even more obvious: digital
textile printing enables designers and fashion brands unlimited
creativity with faster time-to-market:
- Printed samples are ready within days rather than weeks.
- Perfect color matching between samples and production
- Short production runs and unlimited design or color
- Market testing of designs enabled, and production
Challenges of going digital with
Printing with digital textile printers also brings some
unique challenges for the conventional textile printing
industry. To meet these challenges, some important
- The fabric for digital printing has to be specifically
prepared for digital printing with higher quality singeing,
bleaching and mercerizing. The fabric surface must be smooth
and free from lint or hairiness. It should be prepared to
allow good ink uptake and dye fixation.
- An optimized pre-coating recipe and uniform application
process that is adapted to different substrates such as
cotton, silk, or viscose fabrics, enabling adequate
penetration without color bleeding, or affecting fabric
- Accurate printer calibration to ensure nozzle alignment,
print sharpness, color consistency and ink consumption.
- Post-treatment processes of steaming, washing and
finishing using equipment that is optimized for the
intricacies of the digitally applied reactive ink dyes.
Fast fashion considerations
After the print house has realized the advantages and met the
basic challenges of digital textile printing, they have to adapt
to new workflows that arise from the fast fashion market in
- Excellent color matching from digital file to printed
fabric, as well as exact color matching between different
substrates. It is common in the local fashion market to have
a silk, polyester or viscose dupatta (scarf) that must match
with a cotton lawn shirt.
- Dupatta (scarf) fabrics are of ultra-low GSM such as
tissue silks, and pose a challenge to achieve print
sharpness and require delicate handling throughout the
- Zero deviation in print results in terms of consistent
colors and sharp prints from sampling to production.
- Fabric handle and feel that is soft and bouncy that
cannot be achieved from mass-production equipment designed
for rotary or screen-printing volumes.
Premium prints with Duraprints
Duraprints was one of the early adopters of digital textile
printing offering roll-to-roll direct on fabric commercial print
services in Pakistan since 2012.
Duraprints works closely with fashion designers, apparel
brands and boutiques, as well as interior designers and
furniture manufacturers to bring unique fashionable designs to
printed textiles. Duraprints’ large variety of clients puts it
in a unique position when it comes to developing new ideas,
handling delicate fabrics such as cotton nets, Bamberg chiffon
or tissue silks, or heavy long-use fabrics for contract
With its early experience in digital textile printing,
Duraprints is a digital textile printer offering premium prints
with brighter colors, greater sharpness, and excellent color