Dictionary of Textile Terminology
This is where we try to make things clear. This is necessary so that we can all
communicate on the same level and simplify all this confusion. The words listed here are
pretty much industry standard, but you will find some specific terms used by various
segments of the industry. If you don't see what you are looking for, please notify us so
that we can add it. And if you disagree with it then that's OK too. Tell us about it at
our e-mail address. [email protected] or call us at (941)946-3131
AATCC (American Association of Textile Colorist and Chemists); An association of people concerned with the issues pertaining the the improvement
of textile finishing and wet processing as well as the impact on the enviroment of the
chemicals used in this processing. These people are manufacturers as well as users. This
organization provides most of the textile industry standards and maintains an extensive
library of knowledge of textile issues. Membership is open to those concerned with the
issues of textile processing.
Abrasion; The effect of garments scrubbing
against each other while in the dyebath. It gives the material an aged look. In some
processes this is desired (e.g. Pigments), while in others, a great deal of effort goes
into minimizing this effect.
Acrylic; Common term used to denote binders and other polymers
used to attach pigment to a substrate.
Amphoteric; A property which means a chemical has a tendency to be
nonionic at an alkalai Ph and becomes more cationic as the Ph lowers to the acid side.
Anionic; All compounds have an electrical rating for
compatibility purposes. Anionic compounds are positive in nature and will blend with like
charges or compounds that are nonionic (No charge).
Antimigrant; A chemical added to the process compounds to stop
dye from moving around during processing. See Bleeding also;
Averaging; When colors are evaluated with a
colorimeter, it is neccessary to take from 3 to 10 readings on different parts of the
material and average them out to get a true average reading of the color value.
Bare'(Ba-ray); A term used to describe the unevenness of the
thread tension in the cross weave or knit of a fabric. Garment dyers have a particular
problem with this. When a garment is dyed, if the uneven thread tension is not relieved by
the process , then alternating light and dark streaks will appear in the dyed fabric where
the dye doesn't penetrate due to high thread tension.
Base; Normally this indicates a basic compound which the user
modifies for his own specific use. An example would be water based Print Base which the
printer will add his own color too.
Belt Marks; A common problem found in plants
where ty-dyers are using an oven to increase production. These marks are caused by the
uneven heat on the belt surface. They can be eliminated by using a cooler process and
running them through twice. Once on one side and then turning them over and running them
through a second time.
Binder; One form of an acrylic compound which does what it's
name denotes, namely it binds pigment to something.
Bleeding; Basically this means when a color goes where it
shouldn't. This is a particular problem to the ty-dyer who hang drys his product. This is
also found in water base Screen Printing applications as well as reactive printing
operations. Probably the most common cause is from a surfactant used in the pigment or by
a printing ink which is too thin. It is usually resolved by adding an Antimigrant to the
dye bath or the print ink.
Burning or Burn; This is an expression
commonly used among pigment ty-dyers to express the amount of migration in an oven used
for ty-dye. The pigments migrate to the surface under high heat and concentrate, causing a
Carcinogen; This is a compound that is a known to cause cancer
and should be treated accordingly. Many textile products release Formaldehyde, a known
carcinogen and should be evaluated for use accordingly. It is very important to read and
understand material safety data sheets (MSDS) of the products that you use in production.
Cationic; All compounds have an electrical rating for
compatibility purposes. A cationic compound has a negative charge and will only mix with a
like compound, or a nonionic compound (no charge). It should be noted that because of this
difference, pigment garment dyeing has been greatly simplified.
Catalyst; A compound added to an acrylic type compound to speed
up the cross-linking process. One major drawback of using a catalyst is the greatly
shortened shelf life of the dye solution.
Clarity; Usually used in the evaluation of an acrylic, but some
plastisol inks require great clarity in the product for use as process type inks. Also
used to refer to the exhaustion of a pigment dye bath.
Color Strike; This term usually applies to the initial
exhaustion of a color in a dye bath before anything is added to enhance exhaustion. With
pigments, acid is added to exhaust a dye bath. With directs and reactive type dyes,
various types of salts are added to enhance exhaustion.
Colorimeter; An insturment used to measure
textile color values for quality control purposes.
Conventional Fabric Softeners; Term applies to commonly used
cationic fabric softeners that are usually applied at the end of a dyeing process. Because
of their cationic nature , they should not be added to the dye bath or the dye will have a
tendency to precipitate out of the water and onto the softener rather than the fabric.
There are nonionic softeners available for addition to the dyebath.
Curing Time: The length of time required for a compound to
fully cross-link for maximum washfastness. Usually associated with cure temperature of a
screen printing oven.
Crocking; This is the amount of color transfer from a processed
garment to a piece of white fabric under pressure. This is evaluated against industry
standard matching cards and it is performed both on wet and dry garments of a given
Crockmeter; An industry wide insturment used
to evaluate the amount of color crocking (e.g. What scrubs off under pressure) on a
finished piece of material. The amount of color removed is measured against a "Grey
Scale" and then evaluated.
Cross-Linking; The ability of an Acrylic type compound to link
itself to both the pigment and the substrate with a strong continuos link for good
washfastness. This process used to require heat and a catalyst, but some newer resin
compounds will do the same thing when air dryed at room temperature.
Density; All compounds have a specific weight at a given
volume. An example would be water compared to plastisol inks. Water has a bulk density of
8# to 1 gallon while many plastisol inks can have a bulk density of up to 10# per gallon.
The greater the density of a compound, the higher the weight by volume.
DEP; Department of Environmental Protection. The state level
equivalent of the EPA.
Direct Dye; A dyestuff that coats the
cellulosic fiber through the application of an electrolyte (salt) and temperature
(140F-180F). This type of dyestuff requires an after treatment to gain washfastness.
Dirty Product; Refers to the environmental impact of a product.
In this case, a product that has a severe detrimental effect on the environment.
Dispersion; The liquid form of a colorant or other chemical.
The dispersion characteristics have a great deal to do with how a product works for a
certain process. By adjusting the dispersion formula, the color strike of a dye can be
reduced or enhanced.
Dye Bath (dyebath); The liquid solution the fabric is placed
into for the purpose of changing it's color properties.
Electrolyte; The compound or liquid added to a dyebath to force
the color out of the water and onto the fabric.
Environmentally Safe; This rating is given to a product or
compound that does not contain or generate any hazardous chemicals, fumes, or degradation
byproducts. Basically an inert blend. The chemical industry is pretty much self
regulating, and you should request testing information on any product that is claimed to
be environmentally safe. Remember, the government holds you responsible for hazardous
clean up, not your chemical supplier. No matter what is claimed by them , you are
EPA; Environmental Protection Agency. The branch of the
government that regulates and evaluates the impact of chemicals and compounds on the
Exhaustion Rate; The rate at which the color goes on the
fabric. Exhaustion is different for different colors and should be considered when a new
process is developed and adjusted for. Colors exhaust on an uneven curve according to the
electrolyte content of the dyebath.
Extenders; When a specific type is not specified e.g.; Shelf
Life Extender, this usually indicates a product that is used for diluting the original
product, therefore extending the use of it.
Fadeometer (Fade-o-Meter); An Insturment
designed to emmit a very bright light that is equivalent to sunlight and high in
ultraviolet radiation. When a fabric sample is submitted to this light, it fades as though
it was aged in sunlight. After a preset time the fabric is removed and evaluated by
industry standards as to it's colorants' light fastness.
Flammable; The ability to sustain self ignition once started.
The degree of flammability is stated in the MSDS or HMIS sheet that accompanies the
Fluorescent Pigment; In simple terms, it is an
epoxy type resin stained with various acid and basic dyestuffs. There are only three truly
fluorescent colors. They are Pink, Yellow, and Orange. The fluorescent dye stuffs used are
Favine Yellow and Rhodamine Red. Once these cakes are formed, they are then ground to a
micron particle size, usually around 4 microns.
Foreign Substance; Usually used as an environmental term to
designate anything that does not occur naturally in nature. This term also applies to
items that are found in a blended compound and shouldn't be there.
Formaldehyde; A known Carcinogen that is released by some
resins used as binders. Melamine resins are probably the worst. This is an Osha hazardous
compound and MSDS's are required to specify the quantity released if it is greater than
Fugatives; See Forign Substance.
Garment Dye; The process whereby the fabric is
colored on the finished garment rather than color the material in its basic woven or
knitted form as piece goods.
Grey Scale; An industry standard for the
measurement of wet and dry crocking.
Hazardous Chemical; Any chemical or compound that is capable of
adversely affecting personal health or the environment. These items should be listed on
the MSDS sheet or the HMIS of the product.
HMIS; Hazardous Material Information Sheet. Usually substituted
for an MSDS when the product is a known hazardous material. Also many fire departments
require these from any company opening up that handles any chemicals in their processing.
Call your supplier for more information if necessary.
Humectant; A non-hazardous chemical added to retard drying. For
liquid colorant and water base screen inks, it is usually Polyethylene Glycol. (PEG). But
Urea is used extensively in reactive printing.
Landfill; Better known as the city trash dump. In recent years
the restrictions on waste that is permitted to be dumped here have been greatly modified,
and many items are now considered hazardous. If you are unsure of your products rating,
consult the MSDS or the manufacturer.
Migration (e.g. Dye Migration); The movement of the colorant on
a garment during wet processing. Ty-dyers with belt ovens use this movement to increase
pigment yield by forcing migration while drying. This is sometimes call the burning
effect, and also applies to microwave processing. Also see crocking.
MSDS; Material Safety Data Sheet. This is one or more sheets of
paper provided with the product which explains any health hazards, fire hazards, and
special handling that may be required.
Mutagen; Any chemical or compound that has the ability to cause
mutations in developing life forms. You probably will not see any of these in textile
processing ,but if you do, handle with extreme care.
Nonionic; All compounds and chemicals have an electrical rating
for compatibility purposes. A nonionic agent has no electrical charge and will blend with
either cationic or anionic agents.
Non-Flammable; The inability of an item to sustain self
ignition. In other words, It may burn at an induced high temperature, but when removed
from the heat source it will self extinguish.
Opacity; The ability to stop and or reflect light. This is a
very important word in textiles as many processes are affected by the ability of pigments
and binders to reflect the proper color spectrum or to absorb light to the substrate and
then reflect it. A pigment that stops light and reflects it would be considered an opaque
OSHA (O-sha); Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The branch of the government that regulates the safety of the work environment of
Overcoat; Usually used to describe any type of product used to
create a clear barrier over artwork of various types.
OWF; An abbreviation of the words ON WEIGHT of FABRIC
OWG; An abbreviation of the words ON WEIGHT of GOODS
OWP; An abbreviation of the words ON WEIGHT of PIGMENT
Pad Batch Dying; A Process whereby material is
saturated with a liquor made from Reactive Dye, Salt, and Alkalai. The material is allowed
to sit in a sealed container for a predetermined time to "React". The material
is then hot washed and rinsed and an aftertreat is applied.
Paddle Dyeing; A process of dyeing textiles in
a machine that gently move the goods using paddles similar to a paddle wheel on a boat.
This is a slow process, but there is extremely little abrasion on the goods.
Penatrant; Any agent used to increase the penetration of a
colorant into a substrate. Usually they are a blend of surfactants with specific
properties for a given substrate.
Piece Dying or Piece Goods Dyeing; The process
whereby textiles are dyed in their whole form, prior to cutting and sewing.
Pigment; A dry colorant that requires dispersion and grinding
to become a useable ink or dye. They are considered to be environmentally safe in dry form
and only run into problems after dispersion. Check your MSDS or HMIS for health and
Plastisizer; An agent added to a compound to enhance the
plastic like properties when the compound is cured. Although most plastisizers are
hazardous in their liquid form, after they have been cross-linked in the cured compound
they lose their hazardous rating.
Plastisol; A compounded blend of plastisizers and polyvinyl
chloride used to screen print. The EPA has targeted plastisol screen printers as an
environmentally hazardous industry. The continued popularity of plastisol screen printing
is probably due to the single fact that plastisol inks don't dry and clog screens like
water based products.
Pretreat; An industry wide term used to denote a highly
cationic polymer used to "pretreat" textiles prior to pigment or direct dying.
Prescour; Refers to the process whereby the fabric is washed (or
scoured) in a strong detergent and alkali bath to remove all softeners and thread lubes
prior to dyeing the garment or fabric.
Process Colors; Describes five certain shades of colorants that
are used in process printing.
Process Printing; A form of printing that depends on color
spacing, sizing, and overlays to develop different colors rather than blending or mixing
PWS; Abbreviation for the words PUBLIC WASTEWATER SYSTEM.
Better known as the city sewer system.
Raindrops; A specialty chemical developed for the ty-dye
industry that duplicates the look of raindrops on a garment.
Resin; A liquid polymer that cross-links to form a bond between
a pigment and a substrate. Also see binder and plastisols.
Reactive Dye; A dyestuff that reacts with
celulose in an alkalai enviroment and as it reacts it becomes part of the celulose. Three
determinig factors for reactive dyeing are time, temperature, and alkalai
Rewetting Property; Certain surfactants have an affinity for
water , even after they are dry. These surfactants allow a dry garment to almost instantly
rewet, even though they have an acrylic finish. e.g.- ty-dyed or pigment dyed garments.
Semi-opaque; Describes a colorant or resin that only partially
blocks light from the substrate. Also see Opaque.
Softener Sheet; A piece of material impregnated with a fabric
softener that slowly disperses during the time in the dryer, thereby reducing dyeing time
by the length of the softener cycle.
Spectrophotometer; An insturment used to
measure light, either reflected or absorbed through a liquid or a drydown on a special
slide. This insturment is used extensively in wastewater evaluation.
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Tubular Goods Damage; The Most commonly seen
problem in tubular goods is edge damage caused by the guide rollers of many processing
machines. The edge guide used on some padding machines and dryers crush the edge of the
tube as it is being processed. Although it doesn't actually destroy the fabric, it creates
a section of the tube that has virtually no thread tension. When a garment dyer tries to
dye the garment, he has a dark vertical line where the edge roller was applied to the
tubular goods, This is most pronounced in pigment dyeing followed by direct dyeing. Extra
scouring time and alkali helps with this problem for directs but nothing seems to help for
pigments. Only reactives don't seem to have a problem with this.
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Ultraviolet (U.V.); The low end of the visable
light spectrum which extends below visable range. This frequency of light is considered
the culprit in color fading as well as causing skin cancer.
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Vertical Lines in Pigment Dyed Goods; See
Tubular Goods Damage
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Wet Processing; Any process where textile
products are saturated with a liquid for the object of either changing the color or finish
of the material.
Washfastness: The ability of a garment to
retain it's color after a severe washing process. The processes used are industry standard
tests. See AATCC
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