Screen Printing on Fabric with Dyes

There are a range of printing inks which have been developed specifically for printing on silk screens, including the Selectasine Screen Printing System. It is also possible to use commercial dyes combined with a thickener, making the consistency similar to syrup.

Silk Screen printing with Fibre Reactive Procion MX dyes

Fibre Reactive Procion MX dyes are best used for cellulose fibres such as cotton, linen, sisal. They can also be used to dye silk using a simple cold water process and wool using hot water and vinegar, although protein fibres give stronger, brighter colours with the Acid dyes. The Procion MX dyes can be used in screen and block printing with the addition of a sodium alginate thickener (Carrageenan) or Manutex.

Manutex F has a low viscosity and works well when overprinting colours or for when fine line detail is required. Manutex RS is the best thickener for reactive dye when used for screen printing, painting or to control spreading. RS has a low solid content and is used primarily for prints on thicker fabrics or for single prints. Use 45gm to 1 litre of cold water and add 10gm Calgon

Printing paste recipe:

  1. Make the dye solution by mixing 2 parts by weight of Urea in 9 parts water heated to 65°C.
  2. Dissolve 1 to 5 parts of dye (depending on the desired shade and tone) in the solution.
  3. Make the paste separately by adding 1 part Calgon in 14 parts of water at 40°C.
  4. Stir in 16 parts cold water and 1 part Manutex RS.
  5. Combine the dye/urea solution with 40 parts of the paste and exactly 1.5 parts Sodium Bicarbonate.
  6. To set the Procion MX dyes soak the fabric to be printed in a solution of soda ash, allow it to dry and then print or paint.
  7. Add ½ teaspoon of Synthrapol (a mild detergent) to each 5 litres of water and rinse the fabric. This will remove any dye that has not combined with the fabric and give the high level of wash resistance associated with Procion MX dye.

Silk Screen printing with Acid dyes

Acid dyes provide a simple system for use with wool, animal fibres and nylon, and give a brighter colour with silk than Procion MX Fibre Reactive Dyes. A paste of 1 part Indalca PA3R powder to 10 parts water can be combined with these dyes to create the correct consistency for printing. Take care to add the powder to the water, using a food mixer to help with the process. To fix the print, dry steam for 5-10 minutes at 140°C and then rinse the fabric thoroughly until the water runs clear.

  • Before dyeing, it is important to check whether the item is ‘Prepared for Dyeing’ (PFD) or requires scouring to remove any grease, oil or starch. Run a few droplets of cold water onto the fabric. If they soak in quickly, no scour is necessary. To remove starches, size and oils, add 5mls of Synthrapol (a non-ionic detergent) along with 2-3 litres of water for each 100gms of material. Stir gently over a 15 min period, and then rinse thoroughly in warm water. It is possible to use household detergent, but the alkaline residue may affect the final colour or wash fastness.
  • We recommend that fabric is tested prior to starting on a large project
Silk Screen printing

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