I continually get emails asking for printer recommendations for use with fabric printing, and I always recommend a printer that uses pigmented ink. The above illustrates why — pigmented ink is not only water resistant, but it is UV resistant.
Backing up a bit, in 1996 I co-authored The Quilter’s Computer Companion. In the now out-of-print book, we included a chapter about printing on fabric. Then there was only dye-based inks available for use in home inkjet printers. Because I dyed fabric, we were able to figure out a recipe for making dye-based inks water resistant based on chemicals used for setting dyes. This was before Bubble Jet Set hit the market. After BJS was available, I used it rather than continue to tweak our recipe, especially with the ever changing printers and ink formulations being introduced. The problem, however, was that while BJS and pre-treated fabrics helped make dye-based inks water resistant, it didn’t make them UV resistant. I knew pigment inks were water resistant and were far more UV resistant, but when printers affordable for the home user became available, the colors weren’t as vivid as what dye-based inks could give. Thus, the solution was to get the vivid colors from dye-based ink and to use a spray for UV protection.
In 2002, that changed. Epson launched a series of printers using Ultrachrome pigmented ink. It had a color range nearly as vivid, and it was water resistant and UV resistant. When I bought the 2200 that uses Ultrachrome, I wasn’t sure if it was a good purchase, and I knew no one using that printer for fabric printing (that has certainly changed over the years). As a result, I continually experimented to find out what worked for my needs.
About a year ago I came across some of the test prints that I made in 2002 when I was comparing pigment ink prints on fabric to dye-based ink prints on fabric. I remember then when I made the prints, both sets looked very good. I also remember that the dye-based prints on some pre-treated fabrics looked a bit brighter. However, a year plus ago I came across the prints in one of my fabric bins, and I was stunned at the color shift in the dye-based inks and how much they dulled. Also eye opening was that every print made with pigment-based ink looked as good as it did when I printed them. There were no color shifts at all. To read the rest of the article go here: http://www.gloriahansen.com/weblog/?p=6060