Types of ink for digital textile printing

For each fabric its dye

The main types of ink for digital textile printing are thus divided according to the type of fiber:

  • Dyes for cellulosic fibers: pigments, reactives.
  • Dyes for polyester fibers: disperse, pigments, dye sublimation.
  • Dyes for wool, silk and animal hair (protein fibers): acids, reactives.
  • Dyes for acrylic fibers: disperse.
  • Dyes for polyamide fibers: acids, disperse.

There are five types of inks used for digital textile printing and we can summarize them as follows:

  • Reactive: they are used on natural or artificial fabrics of plant origin (cotton and viscose), more rarely also on silk
  • Acids: used on natural fabrics of animal origin (silk, wool) or synthetic (nylon) with characteristics similar to animal fibers
  • Disperse: used mainly on synthetic fibers
  • Pigments: they can be used on natural and artificial fibers
  • Dye Sublimation: this type of ink can only be used on synthetic fibers
Ink chemistry Ink type Fibre Market application Pre and post-treatment
Acid Aqueous Protein and nylon Apparel / Fashion Pre-treatment – steaming fixation – washing
Disperse Dispersion Polyester and synthetic fibres Apparel / Fashion / Automotive / Home textile Pre-treatment – steaming or heat fixation – washing
Pigment Dispersion Cellulosic and synthetic fibres Home textile / DTG / Low quality Apparel Pre-treatment – fixation
Reactive Aqueous Mainly cellulosic and protein Apparel / Fashion Pre-treatment – steaming fixation – washing
Sublimation Dispersion Polyester Signage / Sportswear Fixation with heat transfer


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