The next step is to place the screen on the fabric and pour the dye into the screen. Then, the squeegee in the screen moves and prints it. Depending on the fabric, up to 10 screens can be mounted. In principle, only one color can be used per sheet, meaning that only 10 colors can be printed. However, we often print them using more colors. In fact, our Mona Lisa blanket uses 16 colors.
We use three techniques for dyeing: ''superposing'', ''extraction'', and ''gradation''. Superposing means to overlap the colors. Extraction is a method used to remove color and dye. The color density can be reduced by placing the glue first and then placing the dye, rather than only placing the dye. The gradation is made on the screen so that the dye does not penetrate fully into the fabric.
The gradation method requires a high degree of screen-making technology, which advances every year. For example, screens were originally manufactured by hand engraving, but in recent years a method has been developed to import photos and images directly into a computer and process them.
Only Japanese blanket companies own the technology that makes it possible to express intricate details by dyeing. For instance, this allows us to accurately represent the Mona Lisa painting on our blankets.
Continuous dyeing machine
Continuous dyeing machines are mainly used to dye synthetic fibers such as acrylic with plain color. This machine is so-named because it colors the fabric in a continuous flow.
The method is to immerse and dye the fabric in the dye tank. Subsequently, after squeezing the excess dye, it enters the steam machine continuously.
Wince dyeing machine
A Wince dyeing machine is used to dye cotton blankets in plain color. The machine works by dipping the blankets into the dyeing tank while rotating the fabric connected in a loop.
Cotton is a natural fiber. When it is colored using this machine, the temperature must be gradually raised to prevent cotton from taking on an uneven coloring. In addition, we place the fabric into alkaline hot water before dyeing, which is a process called “refining”. Cotton contains a natural yellow pigment and oil, so if it’s dyed without refining, it will turn a dull color. Therefore, we make it white and easy to dye through refining.
Since the tension applied to the fabric is gentle, it is possible to dye it without losing its quality. We can finish the fabric into a fluffy cotton blanket that features cotton’s superior softness.
Aurora dyeing machine
An Aurora dyeing machine is equipped inside the continuous dyeing machine and it sprays the dye onto the fabric. By spraying the dye from the fabric’s back side, pile tips are not colored—this makes the blankets take on an Aurora effect .
Various patterns can be produced by changing the spray application. Blankets can be sprayed from the pile side as well as the back side.
After dyeing by using a continuous dyeing machine or screen-printing, the fabric is steamed at a temperature of 100℃ with a steam machine. There are three main reasons for steaming.
The first reason is to prevent the pile from coming off. The ground uses high-shrink polyester and the chain yarn shrinks by about 13%.Thus, the loop of the ground is tightened and the pile is fixed.
The second reason is to fix the dye. Heat combines the dye and the fabric tightly and prevents the color from getting washed off. The third reason is to apply bulky shrinkage to the acrylic by heating. This shrinkage results in a plump blanket.
More details>> The secrets of acrylic warmth.
Washing, and drying
The dye is fixed to the fabric when it is raised from the steam machine, but the glue contained in the dye remains in the fabric. Therefore, we carefully remove the glue using a five-layer washer equipped with a roller that creates water flow. The last bath is filled with flexibilizer, which is coated on the blanket to make it smooth to the touch. A few examples of flexibilizers include rose oil, persimmon oil, and silk protein oil.
After washing, the fabric passes through a dryer at about 130 degrees for approximately 15 minutes. Since the fabric shrinks after washing, the blanket is spread out with a pin tenter while drying.