Monday, January 21, 2008

The 3 Conditions: Chemistry, Time and Temperature

1. Chemistry
MX dyes are similar to Epoxy, there are two compounds that must be mixed together in the correct proportion for them to work. The first is the Dye the second is the Activator. The Dye has the color in it and the activator creates the chemical reaction which attaches the dye to the fiber. So a certain amount of Activator is necessary for a certain quantity of dye. The other chemical you need is water. Water has two functions in the process it determines how dark the dye will be and it is the agent that allows the other two compounds to mix together.
2. Time- two factors here
A. Once the Activator meets the dye a chemical reaction begins that binds the dye color to whatever receptive molecule is present so the clock is ticking! Dyes will begin to hydrolyze at this point. Hydrolyze means that it binds to the water instead of the fabric. It looks exactly the same but it will wash away in the rinsing out process.
B. MX Dyes require a certain amount of time to set to the fabric and if they are washed out too soon they will be faded, and unset dye can also create staining during the wash out process.
3. Temperature
Dyes require a certain temperature range for optimum effectiveness. They should be dissolved in warm water and they require a certain range of temperature to set to the fabric. That said it is a pretty wide range, say 60 to 100 degrees with 70 being optimum. I’ve only found that to be a problem with really cold temps combined with really dark colors.
Almost all of the problems you will ever encounter when dying fabric are due to one of these factors or a substrate problem (something about the fiber) which I will cover next.

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