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What is Space Dyeing? Its Mechanism and Applications.

"Space dyeing is a process of dyeing of yarn in which multiple colors are applied along the length of each strand of yarn which may or may not repeat after a fixed interval."

What is Space Dyeing? Its Mechanism and Applications.

Space Dyed Yarn

What is Space Dyeing?

It is a technique used to give yarn a unique, multi-colored effect. While a typical skein (a length of thread or yarn, loosely coiled and knotted) has the same color throughout, a skein of space dyed yarn has two or more different colors that typically repeat themselves throughout the length of the yarn. Space dyed yarn is sometimes referred to as dip dyed yarn. In space dyeing, different colors are printed along the length of the yarn to give yarn a multicolor effect.

"Yarn dyed with at least two different colors on one skein is called space dyed."

When space dyed yarns are used to form fabric, patterns can emerge depending on the length and variation of each color block. Space dyed yarn is a term that defines the dyeing process in which multiple colors are applied along a length of yarn (usually a continuous filament strand) at intervals. This process is typically used when different colored yarns are used in the construction of fabrics (e.g. plaids, checks, iridescent fabrics).
Generally, to dye the yarn, you place loose skeins in a large, enameled steel vat and pour the dye and mordant over the various loops, dipping as necessary to produce the varying colors.

Mordant in Space Dyeing

The secret to space dyeing yarn involves the use of a special chemical called a mordant. Dye in the space dyeing is fixed on yarn with the help of mordant.

"A mordant is a substance used in dyeing that allows the dye to stick to the substrate. Mordants are metal molecules with a valency of two or higher and most commonly three."

The purpose of a mordant is to help permanently fix the dye to the yarn after the space dyeing process. Since different colors of dye require different types of mordants, this makes it possible to dye the same skein of yarn with many different colors.

Mordants are used to ensure the permanence of a dye. A mordant is a substance that is used in conjunction with the dye to chemically bond the dye to the surface. This is done through a coordination complex. In a coordination complex, metallic atoms from the mordant bond with the nearby dye, creating a powerful bond that water cannot easily disintegrate.
There are three ways to apply a mordant:

  • Pre-mordanting (onchrome): The substrate is treated with the mordant and then dyed.
  • Meta-mordanting (metachrome): The mordant is added in the dye bath itself.
  • Post-mordanting (afterchrome): The dyed material is treated with a mordant.

True mordants must be metallic. Metal is needed to create the intense bond between the mordant and dye because, otherwise, the coordination complex cannot be completed.

Mechanism of Space Dyeing

In space dyeing, mordant is mostly used to chemically fix the dyestuff to substrate and the fixation of dyestuff is permanent type. There are three different ways to apply a mordant but mechanism of mordant stays same for all types of applications. Mordant must be metallic. In short, a mordant is the reagent that fixes the color to the yarn.

Mordant is used in conjunction with the dye to chemically bond the dye to the surface by the formation of coordination complex. In a coordination complex, metallic atoms from the mordant create intense bond with the molecules of nearby dye, creating a powerful bond that water cannot easily disintegrate.

Metal is needed to create the intense bond between the mordant and dye because, otherwise, the coordination complex cannot be completed. Since different colors of dye require different types of mordants, this makes it possible to dye the same skein of yarn with many different colors. In general, space dyeing provides adequate color absorption and penetration for most materials when used with mordants. Thick and highly twisted yarns may not have good dye penetration even with the use of mordants.

Applications of Space Dyeing

  • Space dyed yarns produced from variety of dyes are used to produce a variegated weave when used for knitting or crocheting which give a very lively look.
  • Space dyed yarns are commonly used in the manufacture of tufted carpets to make them appealing and beautiful.
  • Spaced dyed yarn is most commonly used for knitting and crocheting.
  • When space dyed yarn is made to make a knitted or crocheted item, the resulting project features uneven horizontal stripes that produce a collage-like effect. However, the size of the stripes in the finished piece depends on what size of yarn is used. Thicker yarn produces thicker stripes.
  • Space dyed yarns are used to make blankets, scarves, stocking caps, and other items.
  • The simple stitches of knitted fabrics made by space dyed yarns give a very appealing look.
  • Typical space dyed clothing is cotton or acrylic, knit or crochet pieces, which are produced by using specially dyed yarn or color changing yarn.
  • Space dyed nylon is commonly used in carpet.
  • Space dyed yarns are used to produce beautiful effect after knitting, weaving, decorative stitching or embroidery. The colored band pattern and their length depend upon their desired effect.
  • Space dyed yarn can be dyed in either coordinating or contrasting shades.
  • Space dyeing yarn in coordinating colors, such as various neutral tones or assorted shades of blue, provides a subtle yet sophisticated look.
  • Space dyed yarn in contrasting shades, such as yarn that is purple, red, and blue, offers a funkier feel.
Muhammad Rehan Ashraf

I am a Textile Engineer, founder and editor of "Textile Trendz". Currently working in an export-oriented textile organization. I love to share my knowledge about textiles.