Printed fabric invented: The first technique of printing on fabric was block printing. It is believed that it mostly originated in China and then well accepted throughout Asia, India, and Europe. In block printing, patterns are carved on wood or cooper blocks, these blocks then are dipped into dye and then pressed hard against the cloth. The impression comes on the cloth and the printed fabric gets ready. Indeed, it is a very time-consuming process because, unlike machines, every single print is impressed by hand.
Cotton Printing's Evolution - From India to The Industrial Revolution
In the early 17th century, the East India Company started shipping printed cotton to England. They even commissioned simpler patterns than the traditional Indian styles and got them printed to be sent back to Britain. By the 18th century when the industrial revolution started setting in, the process of printing became mechanized. Now, there were cylinder or roller printings were taking place. In this process, the fabric is carried along a rotating central cylinder and pressed by a series of other rollers that are engraved with designs. Each roller was filled with different color and that’ show the printing process got much faster and easier.
The Modern Evolution of Fabric Design: Screen Printing
By the early 20th century, the modern screen-printing method had arrived. It is said that the technique was prevailing at the time of block printing and both these techniques have had almost the same journey. This technique involves the use of a stencil of an image on a screen of porous mesh (traditionally made of silk), a roller is used to press ink over the stencil, which in turn gets forced through the mess and comes onto the fabric. There are separate stencils for different colors. The rotary multi-colored screen printing which is prevalent in contemporary times helps printing fabrics at a better, faster, and economical rate.
The one which is the latest and trending days is digital printing. The computer-controlled lasers and high-pressure jets are there to inject ink directly into the fabric. This allows for very detailed patterns and beautiful ones. Also, the process is very expensive but faster.
The printing techniques on fabric have indeed evolved over time but the old ones haven't lost their relevance or charm.