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Trying to educate myself regarding the "reactive printing" process.

Actually, I have not had an easy time locating a perfect (easy to understand) definition of the reactive ink process. Today I actually realized that I do not even have a definition in the Apparel Search Glossary. I will have to work on compiling a good definition. Here are two definitions that I have found that I thought may be of some help.

From February 25, 2009:
"Reactive dye printing is a method of printing a dye or was by using mixes there of to create colors. With a binder and a heat-activated printing additive, images can be permanently bonded to the substrate (typically textiles, but can include cellulose, fibers, polyester, and even proteins). These reactions are generally heat-activated."

The following is from a patent application at the USPTO for the reactive dye printing process.

"Reactive dye printing process : Abstract - A formulation and method of printing an ink or meltable ink layer having reactive dyes or mixtures of reactive dyes and disperse dyes as colorants. The ink or ink melt layer also includes an alkaline substance, a binder, and optionally, a heat-activated printing additive. Permanently bonded color images are provided by the reaction between the reactive dye and the final substrate, which may be any cellulosic, protein, or polyamide fiber material, or mixtures with polyester. Reaction occurs upon heat activation of the printed ink image."

If you have a better definition (easy for all to understand), please list your definition in the comments section below. Hopefully, that will help others in the future.

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Comment by Magesh on June 25, 2010 at 2:00pm
I would like to know more about reactive prints
Comment by Lamara Mikheidze on May 5, 2011 at 8:28am

here is what i found:

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 process. 

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.


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