There are a growing number of dye technologies for organizations to choose from, but in most cases, it isn’t clear how they’ll end up impacting your choice of carpet.
Today, I’m looking at the differences between pre-dyed yarns, and post-dyed yarns; exploring five of the most common dye technologies, and how they impact design flexibility.
Yarn dyeing is the process of coloring white yarn, with each fiber dyed a single color before being tufted into carpet (hence “pre-dyed”). To achieve multicolor patterns, yarn dyed fibers are often mixed with another type of pre-dyed yarn, like solution dyed nylon.
Yarn dyeing typically adds a single color to each fiber, but a process known as space dyeing can be used to add several colors down the length of the fiber. When these yarns are tufted into a backing material, horizontal ‘stripes’ of different colors can be created
Solution Dyed Nylon
Solution dyed nylon (SDN) is a process that dyes yarn as it’s extruded, coloring the fiber as it’s made. Carpet created this way can resist bleach solutions of up to 10% concentration – a property which other processes can only achieve with the application of a topical treatment.
Though most manufacturers hold a large inventory of standard colors, custom colors can delay lead times, as stock is brought in from outside suppliers.
Digital Dye Injection
Digital dye injection uses the same dyes and fixing processes as yarn dyeing. Unlike yarn dyeing however, the dye is injected after the textile has been constructed, with the dye penetrating directly into the fiber.
This makes it possible to create extremely accurate, high-definition patterns and color gradations, in very specific locations on the textile. This can be done in broadloom goods as well as on finished tile.
Continuous dyeing runs fabric through a dye ‘waterfall’, and by using multiple applicators and different dyes, it’s possible to create a huge range of different colors and shades of carpet. Like digital dye injection, this process dyes fabric after it's been made into textile (known as post-dyeing).
The Impact of Dye Technologies
Pre-dyeing processes create patterning by tufting colored fibers into a backing material. This can impact your choice of pattern, as designs are limited by the mechanical process of tufting yarn. Patterns are created by alternating layers of different colored fiber, and changing which of the colors is visible. This means that colors can be changed only where the fibers allow.
Post-dyed processes apply color directly to the carpet textile, and typically offer greater design freedom than pre-dyed processes. Processes like continuous dyeing apply color before the finished textile is cut into tiles. However, the act of patterning the textiles before cutting prevents patterns from properly repeating, limiting organizations to ‘random’ patterns that don’t match from tile to tile.
Digital dye injection makes it possible to add color directly onto finished carpet tiles, and in doing so, offers the greatest design flexibility of any technology. It becomes possible to create elaborate patterns that match from tile to tile, and vary hugely in size – from high-resolution half-inch patterns, to patterns as large as your floor plan. Each tile can be made to repeat, match from tile to tile, or even be completely unique.
2) Solid Colors
Though digital dye injection excels at creating accurate, high-resolution patterns, other types of dyeing technology are better at creating subtle, near-solid colors.
Pre-dyed yarns work great for low patterned looks, as they’re capable of seamlessly blending different colors of fiber together into one yarn. Continuous dyeing also offers great color flexibility. Multicolor patterns can be created by applying different dyes, and by varying the ‘strength’ of dye applied to the fabric, different shades of the same color can be created quickly and effectively.
3) Lead Times and Order Minimums
Carpets that use pre-dyed yarns rely on manufacturers holding an inventory of colored yarn, and often necessitate higher minimums than other products. If that inventory runs low, or your manufacturer doesn’t have your chosen colors in stock, lead times can be delayed by having to replenish inventory.
In comparison, both digital dye injection and continuous dyeing create carpet designs on blank textiles. Manufacturers have no need to keep an inventory of different colors and types of yarn, and unique patterns and colors can be created quickly and efficiently - keeping lead times down in the process.
4) Design Continuity
With proper maintenance, carpet can last upwards of twenty years – and in that time, you’ll likely need to replace worn tiles. For a seamless replacement, it’s essential that you’re able to reorder tiles with the exact same design and coloration.
Most manufacturers that use post-dyed design processes mix their own dyes in-house, making it possible to perfectly reproduce unique designs years into the future. In contrast, SDN and yarn dyeing are largely reliant on yarn suppliers. If suppliers drop unpopular colors, or the types of available yarn change, it can become extremely difficult to support unique designs into the future.
Learn more about the role design plays in maximizing office carpet tile longevity, and download our whitepaper below.