Sustainability is a worldwide trend. Different types and services in digital textile printing have followed this trend. Printers and manufacturers have focused on making sure that fabric printing is environmentally friendly and does not harm the planet.

The latest digital fabric technology is extremely environmentally aware, offering eco-conscious consumers the opportunity to work towards a sustainable future. Read all about how maake focuses on creating less textile waste when we print on material

The material industry follows strict sustainability protocols. They make sure that the entire print system uses as little water and energy as possible. This industry also ensures that the inks used to reproduce on fabrics are chemical-free. Of course, print quality is of the utmost importance – and luckily, being sustainable doesn’t affect the quality at all.

Why choose digital fabric printing?

Digital printing on material is one of the most modern, environmentally friendly processes available. It works by applying pigment ink directly onto the material using an inkjet or laser printer. 

Screen printing offers the highest quality textile printing. However, the computerised system is far more affordable, which is why it’s become the choice for so many manufacturers. 

Manufacturers use sustainable ink to reproduce on a digital textile. This includes vegetable-based ink instead of those full of chemicals like petroleum, which is harmful to humans and the environment.

The advantages of using a printing textile company

According to a research study done by American experts Smithers, every computer-generated textile printing service together is expected to cost almost  £4.4 billion by the end of 2023. This gives us an idea of the impact computerised fabric printing will have on the planet.

We recently put together a most informative blog on sustainable textile print in the UK and the way forward for 2023. You can read all about it here.

Let’s take a look at the benefits of this type of system for printed fabric:

·       It’s less expensive

·       Fast, efficient production process

·       Prints in a range of shades and colors

·       Enables one to create custom orders for clients

·       Excellent quality

·       Environmentally friendly – uses less energy and water and no toxic chemicals

·       A digital material is easier to recycle

·       Material waste is dramatically reduced

·       A fabulous choice of printed material for clothing, interior decorating and home decor industries is available

·       Can reproduce small quantities of printed materials

·       More sustainable way of reproducing on material

·       Easy to wash in a washing machine.

What are the best methods for textile print?

Computer-generated fabric printing is used by many companies involved in producing products from material. They use this type of system on clothing, interior design and soft furishings and lifestyle products like tableware, scatter cushions etc.

This system reproduces patterns, images (photographs and drawings) and other designs on fabric using various colors. The machines they use are computerised. These are basically bigger versions of those desktop inkjet machines we use in our studies or home offices. 

This reproduction system involves reproducing an image, design or picture onto fabric. Computerised fabric printer tend to use more sustainable ink to print with, which is why this system is more environmentally friendly and thus becoming so popular.

The ink include the 4 process colors (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black, or CMYK). They can also increase from 4 to between 8 and 12 colors. The more shades you use, the larger the amount of tones (the ‘gamut’) that is available.

How does a digital fabric printer read colour?

A computer-generated printer specialises in reproducing patterns on fabric. It also enables fixing the colour at any scale and using as many tones as are available on the specific machine.

The more colors a printer can print, the more it will be able to reproduce a range of shades. Like a child playing and mixing colors in a paintbox, computer-generated fabric printing does this on a larger scale. In fact, they can even create fluorescent shades. Read our Colour Guide for your digital fabric printing UK to find out more.

How printers create digital fabric

As fabric printing is our business, maake uses 2 different reproduction systems for reproducing a pattern on digital fabric. We use the direct-to-textile printing process and have a sublimation printer. These systems use similar machinery or the same machine that has been modified slightly to handle different types of fabric.

1.   Direct to textile printing

This system involves fixing the printing, ie printing directly onto the textile. Before maake prints on the machine, we usually prepare the fabric with a special coating. We do this to ensure that the machine prints vibrant, sharp colour and that the fabrics are colour-fast.

A direct to textile machine requires special pigment ink. We use this eco-friendly system to print on cotton, linen and other natural fabrics. Also, we use this type of fabric printing for fibre blends such as polycotton. One major advantage of this type of printing is that you can reproduce many colors without affecting the cost or the quality.

2.   Sublimation printing

This sustainable reproduction system is ideal for printing on polyester and other man-made materials including poly blends. It’s often used to create detailed patterns and color dyes on synthetics. The chemical system involves printing on material with water-based ink and special thermal transfer printing sheets, called ‘dye sublimation paper'.


Learn more about Sublimation printing here

This printing process involves transferring the design from paper onto the  material. During this reactive process, we use heat and pressure to make the ink evaporate into gas and bind with the  material. When the ink is transferred, they penetrate deeply into the material and leave a long-lasting print.

Digital printed textiles in 2024

With advanced technology, printing continues to move forward and become more sustainable and less harmful to the environment. These days, fabrics are also more sustainably manufactured, using less water and energy to produce. And manufacturers follow strict control regulations and certifications to ensure their fabrics are ‘clean and green’. 

The process of sustainable material production has to start with choosing natural, sustainable fibres wherever possible. Factories also prepare the materials in a more environmentally friendly manner and are environmentally conscious when they digitally print on these fabrics.

Technology has advanced to the extent that new processes are constantly being developed. This is done to streamline every single part of the manufacturing and printing process for printed textiles.

As a result, eco-conscious consumers now have a wide choice of environmentally friendly materials (silk included) to choose from and print on. Check out our fabric selection for inspiration. 

The impact of custom fabric printing on the British fashion industry

Computer-generated fabric printing using inkjet technology is revolutionising the UK fashion industry. It's giving fashion designers and consumers incredible opportunities to expand.

1.   Designers can custom make small quantities of fabrics for clothing

With computer-generated fabric printing, fashion brands can personalise their garments for their customers and only reproduce small amounts. Previously, other methods of fabric printing were used, but these processes involved using larger amounts of fabric. In short, printing on material digitally has transformed the industry. It has enabled designers to reproduce exactly the amount of material they need and customise their products.

2.   More colors and designs to choose from 

Computer-generated fabric printing offers a wide range of colors to print on. This allows fashion designers to be more creative in their designs. Because of this, they can offer their customers elaborate, detailed patterns and shades. At maake, we offer two specific services: you can choose from our extensive Design Library full of magnificent, innovative creations from independent artists, or you can print your own design.

3.   Production is faster and more efficient

This type of print system has made it easier for fashion and interior design brands to manufacture high-quality garments in less time. Creating patterns and styles digitally is far less time-consuming than it used to be. Designers can view their styles digitally on screens, experiment with colors, patterns and fabrics and see instant screen printing results.

4.   A digital textile is far more sustainable

Most importantly, fashion and interior design brands get the ‘green’ light when it comes to using environmentally friendly computerised technology to print on material.

Versatility is also important. The wide choice of fabrics and pigment ink, both natural and organic, makes computerised fabric printing more sustainable. It also allows the fashion and interior design industries to reduce waste and stop garments and other material items from ending up in landfill.

Custom textiles for interior décor

Remember: not only fashion has been transformed by digital fabric – interior design has had its own major transformation, too.

Currently, interior designers are celebrating the wide choices of sustainable, hard-wearing fabrics. They print on and customise this vast selection of fabric without harming the environment. The digitally printed material comes in a wide range of colors and pattern choices, enabling an interior designer to be as creative as those in the fashion industry.

Vibrant cushions on our Bayeux Upholstery

One can create the most beautiful liveable spaces using material and be sustainable, too. Homes are being modified and remodelled by sewing customised, vibrant material choices such as curtains, carpets, cushions, lampshades, throws, blankets, and more.

Manufacturers and printing experts like maake use sustainable computer-generated systems for print orders and products made out of material. This process is greener and costs less, provides numerous choices, is fast and involves customised orders for clients. 

Our sister website, maakeHome, offers a variety of ready-made lifestyle and decor products. You can purchase these in a choice of designs, or customise your own pattern.

How we do it at maake

At maake, our focus on being eco-friendly in our material printing processes is very thorough: 

  • We print on demand, which means we print only the exact amount you order. This is to minimise waste. 
  • For our printed cotton and linen material, we use less than a thimbleful of ink per 100m of printed fabrics.
  • All our processes, including printing on synthetic materials and blends, use 95% less energy than traditional material machines.
  • We only use 100% renewable energy resources in our North London factory.
  • All our machines are fitted with energy-saving cut-off switches. This provides a constant, reduced energy consumption.
  • The ink we use meet the Oeko Tex 100 Class 1 and GOTS 5.0 certifications.
  • These ink are also certified safe for children.
  • We recycle any leftover material that has not been printed on: we donate these fabrics to charity, schools and universities.

As a result, we offer upcycling bags to our customers free of charge. These comprise leftover fabrics and cut-offs from our various projects.

It’s a wrap!

Make sure that you use a sustainable type of fabric printing on fabrics for your products. It doesn't matter whether you're a professional practice, or in your foundation year at college, or are fabric printing for a home project. You can use our sustainable service and support whether you are a student, members of the public or people who own a business.

Check out our table of contents on our website, and our selection of excellent service offerings here and prices:

Order your sustainable fabric by the metre

Design your own textile

Before you print: Don’t forget to see samples of what your material will look like once it’s printed on. Order our Sample Book here, which shows a fabric swatch of every material we offer so that you know how it will print.