This year, we expect the market growth for fabric printing UK to reach almost 4.5 billion pounds. Right now, about 5% of global manufacturers are using digital textile print methods. We expect this to increase to 80%!

What is eco friendly digital fabric printing in the UK?

Printing digitally on textiles involves reproducing a metre of material or more on a large format inkjet printer. This method involves printing the design directly onto the material. This is the sustainable method we use at maake. 

In fact, we’ve already published a comprehensive blog on the subject, Digital printing on fabric: mastering digital fabric printing. It describes this type of environmentally friendly method in detail. It explains that “it’s similar to how you reproduce an image on paper… It’s just on a larger scale”.

When you make an order to digitally print on cotton fabrics, for example, you use a number of colour inks. At maake, we use water-based inks that don’t contain chemicals and are certified safe for children. Our printing methods use virtually no water at all and 95% less energy than regular material print processes. The fabric printing machine UK reduce waste rather than consume it.

Different types of digital print processes 

A fabric printing company usually offers 2 different types of digital fabric printing services. The first is the direct-to-textile printing digital fabric printing service, which we have described above. Then there's sublimation printing, which is used for a synthetic fabric type order. 

In the dye sublimation method, the inks transform from a liquid to a gas. The gas then bonds with the fabric’s fibres and the image is embedded onto the fabric. The result is incredible photo-like quality.

We use similar machines for both methods – sometimes we use the same machines, just with modifications. And these methods are far more economical to use, as you can print on small runs if need be. In fact, you can print on exactly the amount of material you need. At maake our policy is to print on-demand.

The advantages of custom fabric printing from a digital printing fabric UK service

  • Print only what is needed – this makes the method sustainable and prices per order are more economical.
  • Fast printing.
  • Prints vibrant colour in quality high resolution.
  • Less ink, water and energy waste.
  • Uses child-friendly, sustainable inks that are Oeko-Tex 100 Class 1 and GOTS 6.0 certified.
  • The textiles are ethically sourced from local trusted mills that are REACH-accredited. Some also have SEDEX accreditation.
  • Any excess material is given away for charities and other institutions to use for sewing instead of being sold or restocked. This is done through the maakelesswaste initiative (link).
  • Printing on natural textiles like credit stock cotton and linen require no water at all. This method also produces less than a thimbleful of ink waste per 100m.

Fascinating facts about sustainably printed fabric in 2023

  • The more sustainable the method used for printed fabric, the cleaner and greener the process.
  • Eco-friendly printing on textiles can actually benefit the environment instead of harm it.
  • The more sustainable the textiles you order, the better. In fact, the fashion industry has started using sustainable materials to improve its eco status.
  • Government regulators in the United Kingdom and environmentally conscious consumers are keen to start making sustainability in fashion a priority.
  • In March 2022, the European Commission adopted the EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textilesa plan that offers proposals on how to improve the life cycle of textiles and material products.
  • More and more manufacturers are trying to make every aspect of their process sustainable, from the moment you order right through to delivery.
  • More and more manufacturers are trying to make every aspect of their process sustainable, from the moment you order right through to delivery.

Trends to watch in the fabrics printing UK industry

View the following trends which we predict will take over the textiles industry in Britain this year and going forward:

1.     Increasing demand for natural fabrics: As natural textiles are easy to print sustainably, people are choosing to print on them. These fabrics include cotton, silk, linen, wool, jersey, viscose and lyocell. 

2.   Growth in a move towards digital printing: As we mentioned, this method is much more sustainable. It also uses less waste compared to regular printing processes. Because it has less impact on the environment, more and more manufacturing factories will choose this method.

3.   Use of eco-friendly inks in digital printing: There has been increased pressure for printers to use these inks. As a result, manufacturers of clothing and homeware accessories are choosing environmentally friendly sustainable inks for fabric. 

To sum up reproducing designs on textiles…

Sure, all types of material print processes used in the UK do have an environmental impact. But you can choose the most sustainable methods available for woven fabrics labels tags etc to ensure your impact on the environment is as little as it possibly can be.

That’s what we do at maake. Sure, it may cost us more to choose quality over quantity when it comes to the fabrics we use, but we’re proud to be using local mills to source our textiles from, mills that use sustainable methods to produce those fabrics. And we pride ourselves on the environmentally friendly processes we use. 

Sustainably printed textiles are a personal choice…

As CEO Artemis Doupa says in her best-selling book Design & Grow, “When you decide to digitally print on fabric there are many methods out there. Methods such as pigment, reactive dye printing, dye sublimation, acid, vat and direct disperse. 

"Yes, some of the methods might deliver a stronger colour in some cases. The question is, do your brand values align with printing a product in a less sustainable process? A process that is heavy on water and energy waste? It's surprising how many people call in or send samples to fabric printers complaining that the print does not match.

“Brands that are ignorant about the printing methods believe that print is just that. It is your responsibility to make an informed decision – as entrepreneurs, as designers, as humans. There is an opportunity to take action.

"Make sure your supplier has given you all the details. Ask your supplier questions; you need to know how your product is made. What your product means to the world and to your customers. You might choose the less sustainable method and that is your decision to make but make it knowingly. 

Digital textiles directory

At our North London factory, maake uses the digital print process for both natural and synthetic fabrics. When we print designs on our custom natural fabrics, we use special digital pigment ink. We also print the man-made fabrics using sublimation inks.

Take advantage of our extensive services. Choose a design from our exclusive selection of 15,000+ stunning designs by independant artists, or create your own! Once you’ve submitted your order, we will print your designs on fabric sustainably for you.

Before you print your own fabric, create your design 

Browse Our Library of Designs