Screen Printing on Fabric with Dyes

Various inks are designed for silk screen printing, including the Selectasine Screen Printing System. You can also use commercial dyes mixed with a thickener to achieve a syrup-like consistency.

For silk screen printing using Fibre Reactive Procion MX dyes, it’s recommended for cellulose fibres like cotton, linen, and sisal. These dyes work well for silk through a cold water process and for wool with hot water and vinegar. However, Acid dyes provide stronger and brighter colours on protein fibres. To use Procion MX dyes in screen and block printing, add a sodium alginate thickener (Carrageenan) or Manutex.

Manutex F, has low viscosity and is ideal for overprinting colours or intricate line details. On the other hand, Manutex RS is the preferred thickener for reactive dye in screen printing, painting, or to control spreading. RS has a low solid content and is mainly used for prints on thicker fabrics or for single prints. Mix 45gm with 1 litre of cold water and add 10gm of Calgon.

Printing paste recipe:

  • Create a dye solution by mixing 2 parts Urea with 9 parts warm water (heated to 65°C).
  • Dissolve 1 to 5 parts of dye (depending on the desired colour) in the solution.
  • Make a paste separately by combining 1 part Calgon with 14 parts warm water (at 40°C).
  • Stir in 16 parts cold water and 1 part Manutex RS into the paste.
  • Mix the dye/urea solution with 40 parts of the paste and exactly 1.5 parts Sodium Bicarbonate.
  • To set Procion MX dyes, soak the fabric in a soda ash solution, let it dry, and then print or paint.
  • Add ½ teaspoon of Synthrapol (a mild detergent) to every 5 litres of water and rinse the fabric. This removes any unbound dye, ensuring high wash resistance with Procion MX dye.

Silk Screen printing with Acid dyes
Acid dyes are a simple choice for wool, animal fibres, and nylon, offering brighter colours on silk compared to Procion MX Fibre Reactive Dyes. To create the right printing consistency, mix 1 part Indalca PA3R powder with 10 parts water, using a food mixer for better blending. Be careful adding the powder to the water. To set the print, steam dry for 5-10 minutes at 140°C, and then rinse the fabric thoroughly until the water runs clear.

Before dying, check if the item is ‘Prepared for Dyeing’ (PFD) or needs scouring to remove grease, oil, or starch. Drop a few droplets of cold water onto the fabric. If they soak in quickly, no scour is needed. To remove starches, size, and oils, mix 5mls of Synthrapol (a non-ionic detergent) with 2-3 litres of water for every 100gms of material. Stir gently for 15 minutes, then rinse thoroughly in warm water. While household detergent can be used, be aware that its alkaline residue may affect the final colour or wash fastness.

What you may need: