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Quick prints for textiles.

Quick prints for textiles

Fashion is fickle. The cartoon superhero that appears on matching sheets, pillowcases and curtains sometimes has a shorter lifetime than the time it takes to design, print and distribute the fabrics. To shorten the time it takes to produce new patterns, Fred Cook and his colleagues at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta are studying the possibility of using photocopying machines, similar to office copiers, to print designs on fabrics. Such a technique woudl replace existing water-based printing processes that rely on metal rollers to apply the necessary colors. The textile photocopier project is part of a larger effort to save energy in the textile industry by reducing the amount of water used for processing.

Photocopiers work by putting an electrostatic charge on a metal drum. Light reflected from the document being copied modifies the charge, creating an invisible, electrostatic image of the document on the drum. Particles of toner -- a blend of pigment and binder -- stick to the charged areas, and the whole image is transferred to paper or fabric. Heating fixes the pattern.

Cook's team has modified standard office copiers to use toners appropriate for cloth and to print continuous images onto moving sheets of materials. Within the next few months, they expect to test a computer-controlled system of three photocopying machines designed to lay down three different colors to create more complicated patterns.
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Title Annotation:using photocopying machines to print designs on fabrics
Publication:Science News
Date:Jun 4, 1988
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