Dispersed Dyes

Written October 16, 2019

Dispersed dyes are specifically used for fibers such as polyester, acetate rayon, poly Lycra and acrylics. The dyes can form a solid solution with the fiber or dissolve within the fiber and become part of it. Dispersed dyes are typically direct printed on to the textile and then processed through a heat press to fix and develop the color. A specialized form of dispersed dye can sublimate (go from a solid state to a gas state).

These dyes are used to manufacture dye sublimation inks and are quite popular. Dye sublimation is always done on a polyester, polymer, or polymer-coated media, substrate or fabric. With dye sublimation, the inks are printed on a carrier media, such as paper, and then transferred onto the fabric by applying heat and pressure using a heat press or calender drum.

The sublimation inks can also be directly applied to the material and heat fixated in-line. Although there may be some differences in the print characteristics for transfer application versus direct application, it can be argued that direct application is a more sustainable print process in that it eliminates the consumption and disposal of transfer paper. Keep in mind either method requires energy to generate heat needed to initiate the sublimation of the ink. In the heat press, the dyes become gas and the synthetic fibers “open” to receive the gas. After the heat is removed, the fibers close, encapsulating the dye that returns to a solid state.

Dye sublimation can either be a transfer process or one where printing is direct onto the media. Printing directly onto the fabric increases the spread of the ink (dot gain) and can decrease vibrancy. Post processing: heat fixation Markets: Fashion textile, indoor & outdoor soft signage, home textile (wash fast and durable, not very UV resistant)