Denim Printing Techniques

Printing of Denim Garments:
Always denim is popular from the catwalk to the streets. Denim jeans can be considered as the most widely used garment in the fashion business. Worldwide interest in denim is moving toward refinement and inconspicuous design. Fabrics are becoming better with sublime shades and finishes and high-quality augmentations such as printing and hand painting. Developments are originating from mixes, specialized stretch denims, natural denims and green reused denims. The business sector is searching for something new all the time and mixes can bring originality. In that case, printing is an innovative technique for denim trends. The finishing process is the most damaging part of the whole production cycle.

Printed denim frocks
Figure 1: Printed denim frocks

Finishing processes of denim may reduce the strength of the fabric by 50% or more, resulting in a much lower technical lifetime. To apply the finishing effects by a printing technology (conventional or inkjet) would not reduce the strength of the fabric and hence would make it possible for jeans to withstand more than 100 washing cycles. Of course, from a fashion point of view, this could change the appearance of the jeans.

The printing of denim garments is mainly carried out on garment screen printing machines after cutting the panels of garments before sewing. Garment components are placed on a palate and printed with screens loaded onto a rotating carousel. The printing process is followed by a fixation process to fix the pigments with binders. Prints are applied mainly to the hip pockets, side seams, pocket inside and back side of trousers. Depending on the design of the garment, prints can also be applied to the whole garment, as shown in Figure-2.

Prints applied on whole denim garment
Figure 2: Prints applied on whole denim garment

Denim Printing Techniques:
Denim printing is another issue we should be careful about, otherwise, you may have a latent problem that you are unaware of until it is too late. Discharge printing, flock printing and varak printing are the common methods used in denim jeans printing. Discharge patterns are produced by destruction of the original dye in the printed areas. Indigo dye can be destroyed by oxidation or reduction. There are also high fashion printing techniques applicable on denim jeans based on novel pigments with metallic effects, phosphorescent colors, optically variable pigments, thermochromic pigments and photochromic pigments. Embossing is another technique, which allows engraving a simple pattern, as well as to obtain 3D patterns on denim fabrics. To produce a pattern, the fabric is passed through a calendar in which a heated metal bowl engraved with the pattern works against a relatively soft bowl.

Apart from the conventional printing techniques, inkjet printing of denim jeans is becoming more popular. In fact, inkjet printing of jeans has already become quite significant, slowly replacing screen printing. Its versatility has led to the development of innovative fashion designs, changing the way textile and fashion designers interact with denim fabrics, and stimulating their creativity within a digital frame.

Denim garments can also be printed by laser engraving, as shown in Figure-3. It is one of the easiest printing applications for denim garments, resulting in unlimited patterns. The main advantages of laser methods over conventional printing techniques are similar to those offered by inkjet printing in the simulation of traditional finishing effects and the reproduction of any type of images, color fading and 3D effects with reduced water and energy use.

denim printing by laser engraving
Figure 3: Denim printing by laser engraving

Digital Printing on Denim:
Digital printing can be considered as an environmentally friendly technique for denim printing, mainly because of the low quantity of colorant applied on the fabric, with less use of water and energy. It can also be applied in small lots, and a variety of designs can be created digitally on jeans. Similarly, laser engraving methods have several environmental advantages over chemical or mechanical washing techniques. So it is clear that digital printing and engraving present ecological and cost effective alternatives to conventional coloration and washing techniques.

More interestingly, digital printing provides the designers with more artistic freedom to creatively broaden their ideas. An unlimited variety of motifs and patterns can be developed and printed onto denim fabrics. This technology also enables creative designers and producers to work closely with retail distribution networks in real time, as a quick response model. The addition of electronic data interchange capabilities can materialize a concept known as fast fashion, and it can simultaneously boost the competitiveness of the company.


  1. Denim : Manufacture, Finishing and Applications. Edited by Roshan Paul
  2. Sustainability in Denim. Editors: Subramanian Muthu
  3. Prospects of Denim in Bangladesh by Jahangir Alam Sujon

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  3. Denim Fabric Finishing Techniques
  4. Working Process Flow Chart of Textile Printing Industry
  5. Digital Textile Printing Technology: Evolution, Progression and Techniques

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1 thought on “Denim Printing Techniques”

  1. An insightful blog covering about a widely used fabric in the fashion business. The insights on kinds of printing in denim and the areas/processes where special care should be taken was quite beneficial to know about!


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