Colour Management and Fabric Consistency

natural organic texiltes Colour Management and Consistency of Textile Supply and Fabric Preparation is the key to successful Digital Textile Printing.

The artwork source and its pre-press preparation is critical. Bridging the transfer of accurate colour, print mark appearance, and the technical components of colour yield from Cameras, to Image Scanners, variable Monitors, CAD / CAM, and infinite light sources, cannot be underestimated and requires both specialist software, and technical specification to ensure that the final printed fabric meets the clients expectations and standards.

The visual colour viewed on the creator’s monitor will vary significantly between design studios, commercial artists and the final production source, who are often in different locations, many miles apart. Pre-press sampling and or screen calibration is mandatory.

It can be a challenging technical process and without professional calibration colour management is impossible. Colour management software, utilised in design and pre-press, alongside fabric profiling gives excellent results and offers a seamless channel for successful production.

To circumnavigate the variance in print supply and in order to provide universal colour reference, colour charts or chips are often used as a reference to define accurate colour prior to, and during digital textile printing.

Pantone references are often quoted as an Industry Standard for Colour matching on Textiles, but not all Pantone chips are within the Colour Gamut of your chosen Digital Textile printer and their print technology.

Variations in colour gamut, yield, and colour appearance occur due to a number of factors; the reflectivity of the fabric, the standard of whiteness, the type of ink set utilized, and the number of colours used (within the ink-jet machine) during printing can vary significantly.

The only practical solution is to profile the machine print on the fabric to be used using X-rite/Barbieri or other similar type equipment and software. But even then, some Pantone chips may not be attainable. Therefore, precise Pantone colour matching on Textiles has to be understood in this context.

The increased number of digital textile printing machines and available print sources has increased the variables of Colour Management. What works on one machine, does not always work on another. What works on one fabric does not always work on another.

Choose your Digital print partner wisely, the best print systems are those that are developed for specific machines, using specific inks and specific fabric types. Dye Sublimation, Pigment, Reactive and Latex etc…will all yield specific benefits.

Colour Management is a complex area that has to be dealt with at the practical as well as at the theoretical level.

In this context the reliability and consistency of the fabric used now assumes critical importance.

Different coating chemicals and different optical brightening agents can introduce colour variables that make reproducing the same colour on the same fabric a complicated and error prone enterprise.

Therefore, it is vital that the printer is absolutely confident in their fabric source.

A well organised and well controlled fabric sourcing operation is vital for the Digital Printer, where economies of scale, rigid batch controls and tight technical specifications ensure the best possible environment for the Digital Textile Printer and guaranteed colour consistency.