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Report | October 2017

Silicone inks for superior performance printing

Conventional inks require 5-8 layers to achieve optimal coverage, but with silicone inks the same effect can be achieved with only three layers, says Padmadas Nair.

Silicones have been widely accepted as environment-friendly chemistry for textile application for quite a few decades now. Its use as a softener on different textile substrates is not only because of the unique handle it provides but also because of its durable and safe environmental profile that now a very significant majority of apparels globally is finished with silicones.

In garment, printing silicones have traditionally been used as additives in inks to improve the handle or performance of organic inks, silicones by itself have not been used for printing as the performance especially handle on the garment of the silicone inks used for printing did not meet requirements of the designers and consumers. This article highlights a range of silicone inks from Dow Corning, which meet handle and performance requirement of apparel brands as well as has a very sound environment profile, which meets RSL standards of different brands.

Background

Conventional organic inks based on PVC and PA chemistry have drawbacks like wash and weather durability, poor hand feel and tackiness that limit their use in high end apparel applications. In addition some of these products contain plasticizers and have other negative environmental impact. Garments also frequently have to carry the tag of “do not iron on print”, which adds to the discomfiture of the consumer who has to keep a track of care label on the garments when it has to pressed to get rid of wrinkles.

To counter this problem, printing mills tried silicone inks in the past because of their good washing durability, hand feel, elongation properties and environment friendliness, but they had their own set of issues-tackiness, high viscosity and inability to get matt effect finishes. The Dow Corning range of silicone textile printing inks offer a soft, non-tacky printing ink that has outstanding elasticity, durability and does not crack, fade or run. The silicone inks fill the performance gap and offer printers additional choices by overcoming drawbacks of traditional inks, some of the key features and benefits are mentioned in the table 2.

Production advantages

Conventional inks require 5-8 layers to achieve optimal coverage, with silicone inks the same effect can be achieved with only three layers. This gives a finish that is less bulky, lower material usage, faster production cycles and lower labour cost.

The viscosity of the inks have been adjusted to make it very suitable for screen printing. Dow Corning has developed a full system, which makes the silicone inks convenient to use for both manual as well as automatic screen printing.

Applications

Silicone inks are suitable for screen printing on most natural and synthetic fabrics including elastic fabrics, bathing/swimsuits, pants, sweaters, gloves, shirts, sweatshirts, caps, shorts, t-shirts, jackets, sleepwear, undergarments, jerseys, socks, uniforms and narrow fabric prints.

Silicone inks gives garment designers options to develop designs with superior performance and benefits which can be appreciated by end consumers who in turn will get products, which are environmentally sound, lasts long and has durable wash and care performance.

Padmadas Nair is Region Leader – R&D and TS&D, and Humen Phukan – TS&D Specialist (Packaging & Textiles), Dow Corning India Pvt Ltd

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