Everything You Need To Know About Printing Thichener

Table of Contents

What’s thickener?

A thickening agent or thickener is a substance which can increase the viscosity of a liquid without substantially changing its other properties. Most thickeners have an emulsifying effect. Thickener can be widely used in food, paints, inks, adhesive, cosmetics, detergent, printing and dyeing, rubber, medicine and other fields.

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What’s the classification of thickener?

There are many kinds of thickener in the world, and they can be divided by different categories.

According to the ionic nature of the thickener, it can also be divided into two categories, ionic thickeners and non-ionic thickeners. Ionic thickeners, such as alginic acid, sodium carboxymethyl cellulose and starch, etc.; non-ionic thickeners, such as propylene glycol sodium alginate, Hydroxypropyl starch, etc.

According to the source, thickeners can be divided into four categories: natural thickeners, cellulose thickeners, inorganic thickeners and synthetic polymer thickeners.

First, natural thickeners: starch, xanthan gum, gelatin, guar gum, tamarind, natural rubber, agar, etc.

Second, cellulose thickeners: methyl cellulose, hydroxyethyl cellulose, hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose, sodium carboxymethyl cellulose.

Third, inorganic thickeners: organic bentonite, diatomaceous earth, fumed silica, sodium-based bentonite, silica gel, etc.

Fourth, synthetic polymer thickener: polyurethane thickener, sodium polyacrylate, polyvinyl alcohol, polyacrylamide, polyvinylpyrrolidone, polyethylene oxide, carbomer resin, polyacrylic acid, polyacrylate copolymer emulsion, etc.

What’s textile printing thickener? How it works?

Printing thickener is a kind of auxiliary most commonly used in the textile printing industry. We need to make rubber paste or color paste printing on fabric. In the printing process, under high shear force, the viscosity of rubber paste and color paste would be reduced, so it is necessary to use a thickener to increase the viscosity of the printing material. 

The main function of the textile printing thickener is to provide good rheological properties, transfer the rubber paste or color paste on the printing screen and printing roller to the fabric, and combine the dye and the fiber to ensure the clear outline of the printing pattern. The pattern is clear, the colors are bright and uniform. When the dye is fixed on fabric, the reaction products and residues are easily removed in the finishing process, making the fabric feel soft. Therefore, the printing thickener plays a very important role in the textile printing industry.

What kinds of thickener for textile printing?

The printing thickeners used depend on the printing technique, the fabric and the particular dyestuff . Typical thickening agents are starch derivatives, flour, gum arabic, guar gum derivatives, tamarind, sodium alginate, sodium polyacrylate, gum Senegal and gum tragacanth, British gum or dextrine and albumen.

Carboxymethylated starch, guar gum and tamarind derivatives are most commonly used today in disperse dyes screen printing on polyester. Sodium alginates are used for cotton printing with reactive dyes. Sodium polyacrylates for pigment printing and in the case of vat dyes on cotton only carboxymethylated starch is used. Nowadays, with the development of technology, acrylic polymer thickener are wildly used in pigment printing, reactive dyes printing, disperser dyes printing, and acid dyes printing.

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What are different kinds of synthetic thickener?

1. Pigment printing thickener

1.1 What’s pigment printing?

Pigment printing has gained much importance today and for some fibers (e.g. cellulose fibers) is by far the most commonly applied technique. Pigments can be used on can be used on almost all types of textile substrates and, thanks to increased performance of modern dyeing auxiliaries, it is now possible to obtain high-quality printing using this technique.

Uses of Pigment printing is wide range. The garments of the women which are made by cotton, polyester or viscose blends are printed by pigments if the medium color depths are needed. Decorative curtain, towels are printed by pigments. Pigment printing also used in bed linen, aprons, children’s garments, night wear dresses, various cottons and cellulose materials.

The function of thickener is change the viscosity of printing paste without changing its properties.

1.2 What’s the basic requirement for the printing thickener?

  1. Good leveling property.
  2. Good water holding capacity.
  3. Good compatibility with other auxiliaries.
  4. Good color valve.
  5. Withoutsticky problem.

Pigment printing paste recipe:

  • Pigment color: 1%-5%
  • Printing Binder: 10%-20%
  • Pigment Printing Thickener: 1% -3%
  • Water: 72%-88%
  • Totally: 100%

Processing for pigment printing:

White/light color fabric – Printing—Baking(150°C, 3-5min) or Steaming (102-204°C, 5min) – Tertering – Final product.

2. Reactive dyes printing thickener

2.1 What’s reactive dyes printing?

Reactive dyes printing is processed by reactive dyes.

Reactive dye is capable of reacting chemically with a substrate to form a covalent dye substrate linkage. It contains active groups that can react with molecules of fiber. In the dyeing and printing process, the reactive groups of the dye form a bond with the fiber molecules, so that the dye and the fiber form a whole. So that the fabric dust performance is good, high cleanliness, long wash does not fade.

2.2 Which Fibers can be dyed with reactive dyes?

  1. Cotton, rayon, flax and other cellulosic fibres.
  2. Polyamide and wool fibers.
  3. Silk and acetate fibers.

Reactive dyes printing paste recipe:

  • Reactive dyes: 1%-5%
  • Urea: 10%-20%
  • Reactive dyes Printing Thickener: 4% -6%
  • Resist salt: 1%-2%
  • Sodium carbonate: 0.5%
  • Water: X%
  • Totally: 100%

Processing for reactive dyes printing:

Cotton fabric –Printed with printing paste– Dried and then cured (105°C for 5mins) – Washed with soaped (60°C for 10 mins) – Cold water washed and dried — Tertering – Final product.

For washing nonionic detergent was used with proportion of 5 g/l.

Washing Process

  1. 1g/Lglacial acetic acidfor cold water desizing.
  2. 2g/L active anti-staining soap, 80℃-100℃ reactive.
  3. Cold water washing.

2.3 What’s the basic requirement for the printing thickener?

  1. Good and correct color.
  2. Sharpness of printing pattern.
  3. Good leveling property.
  4. Good hand feeling.

2.4 What kinds of reactive dyes printing thickener?

Natural thickener like sodium alginate and guar gum. The relatively high cost and limited supply of natural thickeners has spurred efforts to find alternatives.

Synthetic thickener, due to its lower solid content, it offers advantages over natural thickener in quick and easy paste preparation and viscosity adjustment, and consistency of quality and supply.

When using reactive thickener, it is conducted under alkaline condition to provide for the neutralization of the hydrogen halogen or any other acid molecule released by the reaction of the dye with the fabric. Sodium bicarbonate is usually included in the dye formulation in amounts of about 1% to 5% by weight based on the total weight of the formulation to accomplish the neutralization.

Preferably sodium m-nitrobenzene sulfonate in an amount of from about 0.5% to 4% by weight based on the total weight of the formulation is included in the formulation. Sodium m-nitrobenzene sulfonate inhibits oxidation and promotes stability of the dye.

Urea in the amounts of 10% to 20% by weight based on the total weight of the formulation can be included to aid solubility of the dye.

In general a thickener solution, a dye solution and any of the optional ingredients are combined to produce a print paste having a given viscosity and pH. This paste is printed onto the fabric. The thickener holds the dye in a sheath around the fabric fiber until the dye can penetrate and react with the fiber. The thickener is then washed out of the fiber.

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3. Disperse dyes printing thickener

3.1 What’s disperse dyes printing?

Disperse dyes printing is processed by disperse dyes.

Disperse dyes is used for man make cellulose ester and synthetic fibers specially acetate, polyester fibers, nylon and acrylic fibers.

Disperse dyes printing paste recipe:

  • Disperse dye: 1% – 5%
  • Disperse dyes printing thickener: 2% – 5%
  • Ammonium sulfate: 0.5% – 1%
  • Water: X%
  • Totally: 100%

Processing for disperse dyes printing:

Polyester fabric — Printing paste–Dry and then steam (130°C for 30-40mins) / Bake and cure (170°C – 180°C for 7-10mins) – Washed with soaped (70°C – 80°C for 10 mins) – Cold water Washed and dried — Tertering – Final product.

For washing nonionic detergent was used with proportion of 5 g/l.

3.2 What kinds of disperse dyes printing thickener? And what are differences of them?

The printing thickener is one of the most important auxiliaries for printing paste. It decides the basic performances of printing paste.

Polyacrylate synthetic thickener; sodium alginate; carboxymethyl starch; carboxymethyl cellulose, etc.

Synthetic thickener: easy to get, stable price, good color value. Easy to use, with apid thickening property.

Sodium alginate: widely used in food industry, medical industry and textile printing industry. In textile printing, alginate is suitable for reactive dyes printing, disperse dyes printing, acid dyes printing. With very good penetration property. Need to prepare in advance. Higher price compare with other thickener.

3.3 What’s the basic requirement for the printing thickener?

  1. Good fluidity.
  2. Penetrationproperty. The penetration property decides printing color value and pattern definition. The penetration related to viscosity of the printingthickener. The penetration decreases with the increase of viscosity of the printing paste, but the clarity and surface color value increase.
  3. Color value. Good thickener gives good color value to fabric.
  4. Washoff property. Good washing off property brings soft and good hand feeling.   
  5. Goodwater holding property.
  6. Dryingproperty. Faster dry property, higher efficiency. And get clear design performance.
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