Colourants are widely used in various industries including textiles. The ever evolving trends and consumer expectations in the apparel and textile industry call for standardisation of dyes. Ashok Athalye discusses the need for standardisation and the methods and processes followed by manufacturers to deliver consistent quality and avoid rejections.


The size of the global colourant industry is estimated to be about $ 35 billion which includes dyestuffs, pigments, and their intermediates. The average person consumes is estimated to be about 250 gm. Though synthetic colourant production began in Europe a couple of centuries ago, over the last few decades, Asia has emerged as a major manufacturing hub contributing almost 75 per cent of the world demand.


India is the second-largest supplier of colourants with close to 1,000 manufacturers producing almost the entire gamut of dye intermediate, dyestuffs and pigments for various end-use applications.The size of the Indian colourant industry is estimated to be about Rs 45,000 crore of which almost 75 per cent is exported. Textiles are among the major user industries of colourants and India has achieved distinction of being the second-largest global supplier of apparel and home furnishings. With the Make in India and Made in India initiative and drive by the government, there will be renewed focus to achieve exponential growth in this sector.


Need for standardisation: With changing fashion trends, user industries including textile and apparel marketing brands are aiming to ensure that products they deliver meet consumer expectations related to quality, consistency, durability, sustainability and conformance to ecology norms. This is hoped to be achieved by meeting the standard quality parameters as devised by various stake holders like consumers, brands, regulatory bodies, textile processors, and the colourant manufacturers by ensuring stringent control over product standardisation.


Dyestuffs form a major part of textile coloration and different classes of dyes are used for dyeing different types of substrates on different types of machines by different methods of application.Many dye manufacturers provide dyes of same Colour Index which does not ensure same performance (due to impurities and isomers resulting from the raw materials and the method of synthesis) and in case of patent or IPR protection from some manufacturer, prototype products with some modification are developed by other manufacturers, which tends to behave differently under different application conditions. Such complexity has increased the onus on dyestuff manufacturers to devise methods for standardisation of dyes to suit textile processors' application needs.


The textile industry in India is bifurcated into the organised and unorganised sectors. The latter is highly fragmented and geographically, widely spread through the country. Further, there are clusters (hand processors), SME's (process house-job workers) and corporate (composite mills) clients, which may or may not have sophisticated quality control labs for inspecting incoming dyes and chemicals. Therefore, it is expected that the dyestuff manufacturer ensures desired quality and provides dyes of adequate consistency to meet the processors needs.