Textile industry, one of the oldest industries to design and manufacture fabric, serves the fundamental human need of protection and desire for decoration (Chloe 2007). Decoration on the fabric can be created right from the yarn production stage to fabric formation. Printing contributes an important role in decoration of fabric.

The art of printing colour onto fabrics originated thousands of years before Christ. Primitive people used to paint their body, later they started painting garments. In India printed fabrics existed from 500 B.C. (M. Joseph, 1977).

Printing is the process of applying colour to fabric in definite patterns or designs (A.Wynne 1997). It is also known as localized application of dye or pigment in thickened form to a substrate to create an attractive design with well defined boundaries. (Shenai 1997). According to Ruchi Kholiya, Shanaz Jahan and Reta Raghuvanshi (2008) printing is defined simply as localized dyeing.

Printing not only makes a fabric look attractive, it also helps hide manufacturing defects to enhance sales appeal. Today, textile printing combines tradition and technology. The skills of artisans and designers are made easy by using technology, which, in turn, produces new aesthetics and makes the final product highly sophisticated (Jenny Udale 2008). However, Chloe (2007) is of the opinion that development in textile can never be solely attributed to technology but also to art, religion, culture and commerce.

The development of textile printing has forced todays artists, designers and craftsmen to rethink about how they will move forward in the field of textile designing. Not only are they using latest technological innovations but also new or unusual material for printing on various fabric substrates. This has led to creations of new-age cloth, which is, traditional crafts, such as, hand painting, resist dyeing, discharge and burn out techniques applied on a broad range of fabric substrate with new mediums of printing. This has resulted in fabrics which has both aesthetic and functional value. (Chloe 2007)

For instance, silicone was originally used as a coating to provide protection against the environment. It was simply applied as a uniform covering in required thickness and was usually colourless. Today, the textile designer adds colour to it for both visual appeal and fabric texture. Aesthetic quality was thus added to functionality. (Thames & Hudson 2007).

Currently there is a revolution in small scale unit production. In the last 5 years several innovations have taken the market by storm. For instance, bead printing, rubber printing, foil printing. The market is now wide open for fresh innovations.

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Dr. Ela Dedhia is
Associate Professor ,Dept. of Textile & Fashion Technology,Nirmala Niketan,College of Home Science, Mumbai and Ms. Jignasa Shah is PhD Scholar,HOD, Dept of Dress Designing & Garment Manufacturing, Sophia Shree B.K. Somani Polytechnic, Mumbai