Online Encyclopedia

PREPARATION OF

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V26, Page 699 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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PREPARATION OF COLOURS The art of making colours for textile-printing demands both chemical knowledge and extensive technical experience, for their ingredients must not only be properly proportioned to each other, but they must be specially chosen and compounded for the particular style of work in hand. For a pattern containing only one colour any mixture whatever may be used so long as it fulfils all conditions as to shade, quality and fastness; but where two or more colours are associated in the same design each must be capableof undergoing without injury the various operations necessary for the development and fixation of the others. All printing pastes whether containing colouring matter or not are known technically as " colours," and are referred to as such in the sequence. Colours vary considerably in composition. The greater number of them contain all the elements necessary for the direct production and fixation of the colour-lake. Some few contain the colouring matter alone and require various after-treatments for its fixation; and others again are simply " mordants " thickened. A mordant is the metallic salt or other substance which combines with the colouring principle to form an insoluble colour-lake, either directly by steaming, or indirectly by dyeing. All printing colours require to be thickened, for the twofold object of enabling them to be transferred from colour-box to cloth Without loss and to prevent them from " running " or spreading beyond the limits of the pattern. Thickening Agents.—The thickening agents in most general use as vehicles in printing, are starch, flour, gum arabic, gum senegal and gum tragacanth, British gum or dextrine and albumen. With the exception of albumen all these are made into pastes, or dissolved, by boiling in double or " jacketed " pans, between the inner and outer casings of which either steam or water may be made to circulate, for boiling and cooling purposes. Mechanical agitators are also fitted in these pans to mix the various ingredients together, and to prevent the formation of lumps by keeping the contents thoroughly stirred up during the whole time they are being boiled and cooled. Starch Paste.—This is made by mixing 15 lb of wheat starch with a little cold water to a smooth creamy paste; a little olive oil is then added and sufficient water to bring the whole up to Io gallons. The mixture is then thickened by being boiled for about an hour and, after cooling, is ready for use. Starch is the most extensively used of all the thickenings. It is applicable to all but strongly alkaline or strongly acid colours. With the former it thickens up to a stiff unworkable jelly, while mineral acids or acid salts convert it into dextrine, thus diminishing its thickening power. Acetic and formic acids have no action on it even at the boil. Flour paste is made in a similar way to starch paste. At the present time it is rarely used for anything but the thickening of aluminium and iron mordants, for which it is eminently adapted. Gum arabic and gum senegal are both very old thickenings, but their expense prevents them from being used for any but pale delicate tints. They are especially useful thickenings for the light ground colours of soft muslins and sateens on account of the property they possess of dissolving completely out of the fibres of the cloth in the washing process after printing. Starch and artificial gums always leave the cloth somewhat harsh in " feel " unless they are treated specially, and are moreover incapable of yielding the beautifully clear and perfectly even tints resulting from the use of natural gums. Very dark colours cannot well be obtained with gum senegal or gum arabic thickenings; they come away too much in washing, the gum apparently preventing them from combining fully with the fibres. Stock solutions of these two gums are usually made by dissolving 6 or 8 lb of either in one gallon of water, either by boiling or in the cold by standing. British gum or dextrine is prepared by heating starch. It varies considerably in composition—sometimes being only slightly roasted and consequently only partly converted into dextrine, and at other times being highly torrefied, and almost completely soluble in cold water and very dark in colour. Its thickening power decreases and its " gummy " nature increases as the temperature at which it is roasted is raised. The lighter coloured gums or dextrines will make a good thickening with from 2 to 3 lb of gum to one gallon of water, but the darkest and most highly calcined require from 6 to Io lb per gallon to give a substantial paste. Between these limits all qualities are obtainable. The darkest qualities are very useful for strongly acid colours, and with the exception of gum senegal, are the best for strongly alkaline colours and discharges. Like the natural gums, neither light nor dark British gums penetrate into the fibre of the cloth so deeply as pure starch or flour, and are therefore unsuitable for very dark strong colours. Gum tragacanth, or " Dragon," is one of the most indispensable thickening agents possessed by the textile printer. It may be mixed in any proportion with starch or flour and is equally useful for pigment colours and mordant colours. When added to starch paste it increases its penetrative power, adds to its softness without diminishing its thickness, makes it easier to wash out of the fabric and produces much more level colours than starch paste alone. Used by itself it is suitable for printing all kinds of dark grounds on goods which are required to retain their soft clothy feel. A tragacanth mucilage may be made either by allowing it to stand a day or two in contact with cold water or by soaking it for twenty-four hours in warm water and then boiling it up until it is perfectly smooth and homogeneous. If boiled under pressure it gives a very fine smooth mucilage (not a solution proper), much thinner than if made in the cold. Albumen.--Albumen is both a thickening and a fixing agent for TECHNOLOGY] insoluble pigments such as chrome yellow, the ochres, vermilion and ultramarine. Albumen is always dissolved in the cold, a process which takes several days when large quantities are required. The usual strength of the solution is 4 lb per gallon of water for blood albumen, and 6 lb per gallon for egg albumen. The latter is expensive and only used for the lightest shades. For most purposes one part of albumen solution is mixed with one part of tragacanth mucilage, this proportion of albumen being found amply sufficient for the fixation of all ordinary pigment colours. In special instances the blood albumen solution is made as strong as 5o per cent., but this is only in cases where very dark colours are required to be absolutely fast to washing. After printing, albumen-thickened colours are exposed to hot steam, which coagulates the albumen and effectually fixes the colours. Formerly colours were always prepared for printing by boiling the thickening agent, the colouring matter and solvents, &c., together, then cooling and adding the various fixing agents. At the present time, however, concentrated solutions of the colouring matters and other adjuncts are often simply added to the cold thickenings, of which large quantities are kept in stock. Colours are reduced in shade by simply adding more starch or other paste. For example, a dark blue containing 4 oz. of methylene blue per gallon may readily be made into a pale shade by adding to it thirty times its bulk of starch paste or gum, as the case may be. Similarly with other colours. Before printing it is very essential to strain or sieve all colours in order to free them from lumps, fine sand, &c., which would inevitably damage the highly polished surface of the engraved rollers and result in bad printing. Every scratch on the surface of a roller prints a fine line in the cloth, and too much care, therefore, cannot be taken to remove, as far as possible, all grit and other hard particles from every colour. The straining is usually done by squeezing the colour through fine cotton or silk cloths. Mechanical means are also employed for colours that are used hot or are very strongly alkaline or acid.
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