Calico Printing.

Scientific American 26, 11.3.1854

Concluded from page 198.

Another method of calico printing remains to be described, namely, press printing, by which several colors can be printed at once. The cloth to be printed is wound upon a roller at one end of a machine, and the design, which is formed in a block of mixed metal about two and a half feet square, is supported with its face downwards in an iron frame, and can be raised or lowered at pleasure. The face of the block is divided into as many stripes, ranging cross-ways with the table, as there are colors to be printed. lf, for example, the pattern be made up of five stripes of different colors, and each stripe to be six itches broad, and as long as the breadth of the cloth, the colors have to be applied without mingling or interfering with each other. This is accomplished in the following manner:

— The side edges of the table are furnished with a couple of rails similar to a railway, and upon this is a shallow tray or frame, capable of moving backwards and forwards upon wheels. Within this frame is a cushion of about the came size as the printing block, and by its side are four small troughs containing the thickened colors. By means of a long piece of wood, formed so as to dip into all the troughs at once, the tearer applies a small portion of each color to the surface of the cushion, and spreads them evenly into five portions or stripes, taking care not to mix them; but making their breadth equal to that of the stereotype rows on the block. The cushion being prepared, the frame is rolled along the railway until it is immediately under the printing-block, which the pressman then lowers upon the cushion, by which means the five stripes of the block become charged, each with its proper color. The block is then raised, the frame rolled away, and the block brought down upon the cloth, which it prints with five rows of different colors. On raising the block, the cloth is drawn forward about six inches in the direction of its length, or exactly the width of one stripe on the block; the tearer again pushes forward the cushion with the colors renewed and the block is again charged and applied to the cloth. Now, as a length of the cloth equal to the width of a stripe is drawn front under the block at each impression, every part of the cloth is brought into contact with all the stripes on the block. Great care is required so to adjust all the moving party of the preset, that the colors may not mingle, and distort the pattern.

We have said nothing about the chemical nature of the art of Calico Printing, than which no one displays a more extensive or finer field for chemical research, and the application of chemical knowledge. Indeed, it is exceedingly exciting to the mind, and has tended to the development of very high mental qualities in some of England's greatest statesmen, and especially in her great Commoner, Robert Peel.

As an art it is divided into a number of branches, such as the resist, discharge, and topical styles, each one being quite different from the other.

Resist Style - Blue.

— By printing any pattern on white cloth, with a certain paste, and then dyeing the cloth in a blue vat, the parts printed with the paste will come out white, and the parts not so printed will be blue. The following is the way to do this. A vat containing 150 gallons of water is charged with 30 lbs., of good indigo ground together finer than wheat flour, 40 lbs. of the sulphate of iron and 60 lbs. of flour quick-lime. These ingredients must be well stirred every two hours with a flat iron rake, for three days, before the vat is fit to be worked. The copperas and lime deprive the indigo of its oxygen, and it then gives out its color. This vat must be allowed to settle well before it is worked. The cloth to be dyed is printed with a paste made by dissolving 1½ lbs., of the sulphate of copper in one gallon of water with S lbs. of fine ground pipe-clay, to which is added some dissolved gum-tragacanth, arabic, or British. This paste having been printed by blocks, or rollers on the goods, and dried, they are taken and placed on a frame, and cautiously let down into the blue vat, then made to move carefully on rollers up and down, so as to expose them to the air; they may also get dips in several vats — always ending with the strongest. When they are of the proper shade of color, they are taken out and run through a very weak solution of sulphuric acid, and well washed in cold water afterwards. The figure printed with the paste will be white, and the rest will be blue.

Another variety of the style may be produced by mixing some acetate, or subnitrate of lead with the above paste, and after the goods are dyed, and well washed, they are passed slowly through a hot solution, at 24 degs, strength, of the bichromate of potash, then through a weak solution of acetate of lead, and afterwards washed. The figures printed with the paste will then be yellow, and the ground blue, or if instead of running the goods lastly through a solution of the acetate of lead, they are passed through hot lime water, they (the yellow figures) will become an orange color. We have thus described the methods of producing white and blue, yellow and blue, and orange and blue calicoes. By printing different pastes, on the cloth, a great number of colors can afterwards be dyed in them, and still there may be white flowers in the pattern.

The madder resist style it another branch of the art, lea we will proceed to that of the "charge style." This consists in discharging the color by figured blocks, from plain pieces of goods. This is all done oy presses. The cloth to be discharged is pressed very firmly between huge leaden blocks, which have the pattern so cut in thent that the parts not to be discharged are so firmly squeezed that none of the discharge liquor (which is strong chloride of lime, the chlorine being set free by sulphuric acid) will touch them, while the parts to be discharged of color are allowed to come in contact with the liquor. Turkey-red goods are the kind on which this branch of the art is practiced. It has been carried to the greatest perfection at the Works of Sir Henry Monteath, near the City of Glasgow. Many men have lost their lives working at this unhealthy business.

Topical Style

— This style consists in printing the colors at once on the cloth, like paint, but still the colors are very different from paint, as many of them, when printed on the cloth, have to he submitted to a steam bath, in order to fix them, ash in this manner calico printing differs entirely front that of oil-cloth printing, the colors of the latter lie on the surface, those of the former must combine with the fibre of the cloth, and become something like a part of the cloth itself. The difference between a fast and a fugitive color in calicoes, simply consists in the quality of the color a related to the cloth. The color which is the most insoluble in water acid soap, and withstands sunlight best, is the fastest; that which is the easiest affected with washing or sunlight is the most fugitive.

Tapestry carpets are calico prints, in a certain sense; their warps are printed by rollers on large drums, and the yarn so printed, according to a registered pattern, is afterwards spooled, warped out, and beamed in such a manner, that the pattern is formed in the warp, the weft being merely woven in like plain work; the warp which, is raised by the wires, shows the pattern which was printed by rollers. The colors are all steamed (like some of those on calicoes) after they are printed.

We do not see why carpets may not be printed to look as well as those which are woven. Two patents have been taken out for printing them on both sides, and it may be that they will yet bo printed, by rollers, on both sides at one continuous operation. We think this possible — it is at least worthy of an effort. A press might be made with a succession of pattern cylinders, to print the pattern on onr side, and a succession of pattern rollers may print a different pattern on the other side, and thenthe whole piece may be run into a steam room to raise and set the colors. This may yet be accomplished. Such an invention would revolutionize the whole art of carpet manufacturing.

We have no statistics at hand to give full and correct information respecting the number of calico printworks in the United States, and their history, but there are quite a number of them, and some not a little famous for their styles of goods. The Printworks it Lowell, Mass., Fall River, Conn., Providence, R. I., Lodi, N. J., and Frankfort, Pa., are known far and near. Massachusetts is the great calico State, however. In 1845 there were 14 prints works in it (6 being in Middlesex Co.,) employing 2,053 persons, with a capital invested, of $1,401,500, and producing 40,855,818 yards, valued at $4,779,817. There are some styles of printing which have not yet been introduced into our country, such as the fine muslin and turkey red styles. Our calicoes are principally of the coarser qualities; the finer are all imported mostly from France, at least they are all sold under French titles, a very good evidence of the character of French calicoes. It was attempted, we believe, to establish Turkey-red dyeing by Joseph Marshall, at Hudson, N. Y., some years before he died, but the effort failed of success. At the present moment there are colors sold for Turkey reds, which, are just as like that beautiful color as a brown is to a clear bright scarlet, and indeed at the present prices of goods, it is not possible to produce such fabrics in our country, as they can be bought for 183 cents per yard by the piece, while the dusky red barwoods cost 12 cents. The calicoes manufactured at Merrimac have long been famous for their permanent colors; they are mostly produced from madder; but as a general thing they do not exhibit that beauty of pattern and design peculiar to the French calicoes, or even those of Switzerland and Britain, and it is even admitted that the designs of the British calicoes of the present day are not equal to those which were produced 50 years ago, because the calico printers find it to their profit to copy from the French. The person who conducts a calico printfield, should be a man of great chemical information, have a fine taste for the harmony of colors, and the grouping of forms, and have his head well filled with a knowledge of machinery.

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