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Reactive Solution vs. Pigment Solution in Digital Textile Inkjet Printing


Digital textile inkjet printing has revolutionized the textile industry, offering faster production times, reduced costs, and increased design flexibility. Two common solutions used in this printing process are reactive and pigment solutions. Both solutions have their advantages and limitations, making it crucial for textile manufacturers to understand their differences and choose the most suitable option for their specific needs. In this article, we will explore the characteristics of reactive and pigment solutions in digital textile inkjet printing, focusing on their application in direct-to-garment printing and digital fabric printing.

Digital Textile Printer and Direct-to-Garment Printing

Digital textile printers enable high-quality printing directly onto fabrics, eliminating the need for traditional screen printing setups. Direct-to-garment (DTG) printing, a popular application of digital textile printing, involves printing designs directly onto garments, such as t-shirts or hoodies. When it comes to choosing the ink solution for DTG printing, both reactive and pigment solutions have distinct features.


Reactive Solution

Reactive inks are widely used in textile printing due to their ability to produce vibrant and long-lasting colors. They are specifically formulated for natural fibers, such as cotton, linen, and silk. Reactive inks chemically react with the fibers, forming a strong bond that withstands repeated washings. This makes reactive inks an ideal choice for applications where colorfastness and durability are essential, such as fashion apparel.

The reactive printing process involves applying the ink to the fabric and then steaming or heat-setting the printed fabric to fix the colors. This curing process ensures that the ink molecules react with the fibers, resulting in excellent color retention and wash fastness.

Pigment Solution

Pigment inks, on the other hand, are composed of finely ground color particles suspended in a liquid carrier. Unlike reactive inks, pigment inks do not chemically bond with the fibers. Instead, they adhere to the fabric surface, forming a layer of color. Pigment inks are compatible with various fabric types, including both natural and synthetic fibers. They are known for their versatility and ease of use, as they require minimal pre- and post-treatment processes.

While pigment inks offer a wide color gamut and excellent color opacity, they may not provide the same level of durability as reactive inks. Pigment prints may fade or wash out over time, especially when subjected to frequent laundering or harsh conditions. However, advancements in pigment ink formulations have improved their wash fastness and lightfastness, making them a viable option for certain applications.

Digital Fabric Printing

Digital fabric printing involves printing on fabric rolls or larger textile panels, enabling mass customization and on-demand production. When choosing between reactive and pigment solutions for digital fabric printing, the same considerations apply, although the requirements may vary depending on the specific application.

Reactive inks are commonly used in digital fabric printing for applications such as high-end fashion, home textiles, and upholstery fabrics. The ability of reactive inks to penetrate the fabric fibers and chemically bond with them ensures excellent color vibrancy and durability, even after multiple washes. This makes reactive inks a preferred choice when long-lasting, high-quality prints are essential.

Pigment inks, on the other hand, find their place in digital fabric printing for applications that prioritize versatility and short-run production. With pigment inks, the pre- and post-treatment processes are minimal, allowing for faster turnaround times and cost-effective production. They are often used in applications such as interior décor, soft signage, and customized promotional textiles.


In the realm of digital textile inkjet printing, the choice between reactive and pigment solutions depends on the specific requirements of the application. Reactive inks excel in color vibrancy, durability, and colorfastness, making them ideal for fashion apparel and high-end textiles. Pigment inks offer versatility, ease of use, and cost-effective production, making them suitable for short runs, customized textiles, and certain interior décor applications.

As the technology continues to advance, both reactive and pigment ink formulations are improving in terms of color gamut, wash fastness, and lightfastness. It is crucial for textile manufacturers to evaluate their printing needs and choose the ink solution that best aligns with their production goals, fabric types, and desired print longevity. By understanding the characteristics of reactive and pigment solutions, digital textile printers can maximize the potential of their printing capabilities and meet the evolving demands of the textile industry.

Post time: May-23-2023