There are several ways of printing patterns onto fabric or garments. You could be asked about any of them in the exam or you could use it in a product analysis question.

Screen printing

  • Most widey used method of printing onto fabric.
  • Fine mesh stretched over a wooden frame. The dye is moved over the mesh with a squeegee and forced through it onto the fabric to produce a pattern.
  • The pattern on the screen is blocked out with a paper stencil or chemicals.
  • A separate screen is needed for each colour in the pattern to be printed. Therefore a pattern with 10 colours would cost alot to produce as it would need 10 screens, one for each colour.
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Videos of screen printing
Silk screen printing in school

Industrial T shirt silk screen printing

Screen printing fabric

Block Printing

  • Traditional method
  • Block made of wood has a design carved into the surface.
  • Dye is applied to the carved surface which is then presses onto the fabric.
  • This can then be repeated.
  • Separate blocks are needed for each colour in the attern.
  • Care is needed in aligning blocks
    Block printing
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Roller printing

  • This process is like mechanised block printing.
  • Rollers, with the design engraved on them, apply the dye onto the fabric.
  • It is an extremely quick way of printing and 250m of fabric can be printed every minute. This makes it a cheap process.
  • There is a separate roller for each colour in the design.
  • Therefore designs with alot of colours are more expensive to produce as they need more engraved rollers.
  • Better for simpler designs.> Roller printing
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Heat Transfer Printing (Sublimation Printing)

  • The design is printed onto special paper, it is then transfered onto the fabric using heated rollers or plates.
  • Can only be used with manmade fibre fabrics.
  • Suitable for detailed, intricate designs.
  • Quite a quick process.
  • Cheap as only printed paper needs to be changed to change pattern.
  • Heat Transfer printing