Engineering sustainable inks from natural biomaterials for digital printing

Alka Thakker, Danmei Sun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With sustainability at the fore, the textile industry is ambitiously parading toward alternative ecological materials to eliminate air and water pollution resulting from petroleum-based contenders. This study reports the potential environmental consequences of synthetic inks and addresses the issue by formulating herbal inks for blue, red, yellow, and black colors derived from plant extracts such as bio indigo, quebracho red, and from the flame of the forest plant in digital printing. These engineered herbal inks were studied for their physical and chemical properties on the viscometer, conductivity meter, and tensiometer. The findings were statistically validated by applying an Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) one-way test. The Attenuated Total Reflection - Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR) studied the stability of the developed herbal inks, indicating good dye strength following a one-month storage phase at room temperature, except for bio indigo herbal ink. The study also highlighted the significantly strong results for the quebracho red herbal ink. The outcomes of the study support implementing biodegradable materials, waterless inkjet print technology, and processing at room temperature as a driver for implementing more sustainable practices in the garment dyeing industry. For future work, experimentation with herbal inks as conductive inks and life cycle analysis is recommended.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSustainability and Climate Change
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 27 Jul 2022


  • circular materials
  • cotton
  • Herbal inks
  • inkjet printing
  • sustainable inks
  • wool


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