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Sodium alginate dye thickener
In textile printing, alginates are used as thickeners for the paste containing the dye. These pastes may be applied to the fabric by either screen or roller printing equipment. Alginates became important thickeners with the advent of reactive dyes. These combine chemically with cellulose in the fabric. Many of the usual thickeners, such as starch, react with the reactive dyes, and this leads to lower colour yields and sometimes by-products that are not easily washed out. Alginates do not react with the dyes, they easily wash out of the finished textile and are the best thickeners for reactive dyes. Alginates are more expensive than starch and recently starch manufacturers have made efforts to produce modified starches that do not react with the reactive dyes, so it is becoming a more competitive market. This use of alginate represents a large market, but it is affected by economic recessions when there is often a fall in demand for clothing and textiles. The types of alginate required vary from medium-to-high viscosity with older screen printing equipment, to low viscosity if modern, high speed, roller printing is used. Textile printing accounts for about 50 percent of the global alginate market.