Printech Archive
Re: Reactive printing of textiles

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From: Mike Ukena (
Date: Wed Aug 25 1999 - 21:53:54 CDT


Reactive printing usually refers to the process in textile screen where an
discharge ink is used to extract the dye from the fabric and replace it with
the dye in the ink. The reactive part is a reference to the requirement
that the fabric must be reactive dyed in order for the process to work.

There are not a lot of printers doing this process, but it is not difficult.
The main reason for the low number of printers is because most of them avoid
printing with waterbase inks, which is what discharge inks are.

The other reasons that there are not that many printers are technical. The
printer must have excellent drying capability as the discharge process
actually occurs as the water in the ink is extracted or "steamed" from the
fabric. Second, many printers do not like the smell associated with the

The activation chemical for this process is zinc formaldehyde sufoxalate
(ZFS). It does have an odor. It is not, however to my knowledge,
prohibited in California. I have personally seen it used in southern and
northern California. The actual amount used is quite small.

Most of the printers who are doing discharge printing are doing it on a
small scale, that is, garment by garment, for a specific image area. It can
also be done as a method to print a pattern on a whole bolt of fabric. The
advantage to discharge printing are it leaves a soft bright finish on a dark
fabric. The only real disadvantage is the smell.

Hope this helps.

Mike Ukena

-----Original Message-----
Hi! We are a garment manufacturer and have had a request from a client for a
reactive print textile. I am having a hard time finding a company that can
perform this type of printing and am beginning to suspect that perhaps
California environmental standards make it difficult to perform this type of
printing. Do you know of any textile printers that can do this type of
printing, and is my suspicion on track with regard to enviro. standards?

Cool site. :-) While I'm here, perhaps you could recommend a good reference
book for textile printing methods for a not-so-technical person.

Thanks in advance for any assistance you might be able to provide.

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