PRINTING PROCESS MODIFICATIONS
Heat Transfer Roller Printing
Like traditional roller printing, heat transfer printing is done by passing the fabric around a central drum or cylinder where it contacts a roller for transferring the design. The roller is followed by a heating zone to effect the sublimation of the dye. Since all colors are applied to the fabric at the same time,
however, the operation is simpler with lower processing costs and fewer personnel required. Production can change rapidly from one design to another simply by changing the design paper, whereas in roller or screen printing, each separate roller or screen moved from the machine and the machine set up for a new design with different rollers or screens. Short runs are feasible, fast deliveries are possible, given shorter time for processing, and companies need not keep costly inventories of fabric in stock. On the other hand, heat transfer printing is slower than is either roller or screen printing. 10 to 15 meters of printed fabric are produced per minute in transfer printing operations.
Heat transfer printing has proved especially successful in printing knitted fabrics. Knitted goods are less dimensionally stable than are woven fabrics. Manufacturers using conventional screen and roller printing techniques on knit fabrics experienced difficulties in making multicolor prints in which the segments of the print must fit together accurately. In transfer printing, all parts of the design are applied at once, eliminating the problem of fabrics stretching as they move from one roller to another.
Losses of fabric through faulty printing are substantially lower during heat transfer printing than are losses in conventional roller printing. Energy requirements are also lower. Garments and garment pieces can be printed, and precise placement of decorative motifs on a completed garment is possible
Literally moving a design from one surface to another is known as transfer printing. A typical well-known technique is that of iron-on prints of emblems and decorations, which are generally made of pigments in a paraffin or thermoplastic base that can be melted and bound by heat and pressure onto a fabric surface. These pigment transfers are not very satisfactory because they make the cloth stiff and are not fast to laundering or light. A more sophisticated and effective method of transfer printing is that of transferring a design intact by vaporizing it from the paper to a fabric. There have evolved two principal processes: dry heat transfer and wet heat transfer
Heat Transfer Printing
Heat transfer printing, or sublimation printing, is a system in which dyes are printed onto a paper base and then transferred from the paper to a fabric. The transfer of colors takes place as the color vaporizes or “sublimes.” Transfer printing is achieved by rolling or pressing the paper and the fabric together under pressure and at high temperatures (424°F or 200°e). Sublimation printing achieves a sharpness and clarity that other types of printing cannot match. One disadvantage of heat transfer printing, however, is off-grain printing. Some dyes used on nylons and acrylics have displayed variations in shade depth and, in some cases, problems with fastness to laundering. Heat transfer printing also consumes a large quantity or print paper that cannot be reused and may present a disposal problem. Transfer printing can also be used to apply designs to garments such as T-shirts and jackets. Often the design is comprised of pigment colors on a paper sheet. When this is placed on the textile item and a hot press is applied the pigments adhere to the fabric in the design pattern. The design area is usually somewhat stiffer than the rest of the fabric.
Initially, heat transfer dyes were disperse dyes mostly effective on nylons and polyesters. Disperse dyes can also be used on acrylics, triacetates, and polyester and cotton blends where the proportion of polyester is relatively high. In the early 1990s development of several alternative processes have extended heat transfer printing to silk, cotton and other cellulosic fabrics, and wool.-->