Digital chic

Updated: 2012-12-19 09:49

By Tiffany Tan (China Daily)

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Besides being able to integrate more colors into one design, digital printing is also better suited than screen printing for small orders and customized designs based on things like paintings, photographs and collages. In the more traditional screen printing, or silk-screening method, dye is squeegeed onto fabric through screens containing design stencils, one color at a time.

On the Chinese mainland, digital fabric printing, a growing industry that started in the mid-'90s, is also considered more eco-friendly.

It doesn't cause pollution or release harmful substances into the environment, says Jia Jingsheng, a professor at Tsinghua University's Academy of Art and Design, who specializes in textiles and dyeing.

Dyes used in traditional printing need to be "fixed" by metallic solutions, which when drained into the soil are harmful because they accumulate and become toxic to humans and animals, says Anita Quye of the University of Glasgow's Center for Textile Conservation and Technical Art History.

Digital fabric printing, Jia says, saves on resources, such as the multitude of stenciled screens needed in screen printing, as well as the dyes left over in the squeegeeing process.