The large selection of binding materials available enables the designer to give a hard cover book the ‘packaging’ it deserves. Over time, linen has definitely proved its worth as a binding material. For many book-lovers and readers, a book simply must be bound in linen to be attractive, strong and valuable. L. van Heek Textiles has done much to give designers or publishers a real choice from the various types of linen in contemporary colours. One of the advantages linen has over other binding materials, it’s being a natural product: its feel and texture after weaving.

Creative designers and inventive bookbinders have succeeded in producing a myriad of beautiful and surprising bindings. It is an exciting challenge to match the design to the available materials, such as linen, foil, boards headbands, bookmarks and end papers, and the appropriate stamps and printing techniques, in close consultation between the designer and bookbinder. And when special print runs call for this, the time-honored methods of manual craftsmanship will not be shunned.

In contrast to the past, nowadays many printing techniques can be used for textile cover materials. Even combinations of various printing techniques on the same binding are perfectly possible. Below you will find a short overview of the techniques that lend themselves best for our cover materials.

Traditional techniques >

Digital techniques >

Druk Print

Traditional techniques

Offset printing

A good-quality offset print can be made on binder’s cloth, depending on the linen type. The surface of the linen must not be too rough and it is important that the sheets lie perfectly flat, so that feeding in, placement and transport through the press can occur seamlessly. Linen can also be applied with a coating that is especially suitable for offset printing. This facilitates the offset printing process, but does cause the linen to lose some of its tactile structure. The coated linen is very suitable for books as well as stationery items such as ring binders, notebooks and other widely used end-products. The enormous freedom allowed by offset printing also makes it possible to print brand specific spot colours, such as elements of company logos, on the binding, in the intended colour tone.

When printing in offset litho on Brillianta, Brillianta Calandré, Finesse, Natuurlinnen etc, we advise the use of offset inks developed for printing on absorbent substrates like natural materials. These inks are oxidative drying inks, to be used with as little water as possible.

Printex, Imprimex and Reprotex have been specifically developed for printing in offset. When printing in offset litho on Printex, Imprimex and Reprotex we advise the use of offset inks developed for printing on non-absorbent substrates like synthetic materials. These inks are oxidative drying inks, to be used with as little water as possible. Try use a multi dryer (2-5%). Our offset materials are also suitable for waterless offset.

For all of our materials we advise to let the material acclimatize in the printing room for 24 hours in the original packaging. The output stack of the sheets should not be too high. As the ink dries by oxidation, this stack should be about one third of the standard height normally applied. Before printing, a number of test prints should be made to ascertain the optimum printing pressure and ink supply for this specific substrate. Should the coverage of the ink not be sufficient one can optimize this by increasing pressure or adding more ink. We advise the to use soft blankets for better printing contact.

Screen guidelines:

When using oxidative drying inks for non-absorbing substrates: maximum 70 lines/cm.

When using waterless offset inks: maximum 120 lines/cm.

Upon request, we can cut the linen from the roll into sheets in the specified format. We can do this for large print runs from extremely large production rolls, which means the linen lies flat after it has been cut into sheets.

Example: Offset printed Printex


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offset printex vanheektextiles


UV printing uses special UV lights to cure (dry) ink as it is printed. By being dried instantly, the ink doesn’t get a chance to spread out, resulting in excellent printing definition. Offset UV printing is used for large print runs in a large press where one of the four colours is applied in each tower.

This printing technique is most suitable for smooth and coated substrates, such as Buckram Premium, Buckram Light, Fancy, Metallium, Finesse etc. On the coarser materials with a more ‘open’ texture, such as Halflinnen Dark or Regina, the ink tends to be soaked into the fabric, which might deliver blurred prints. We advise to use denser and/or coated materials when choosing UV printing.

Thanks to a special coating, Buckram Premium in white is in particular suitable for  UV printing. 

Screen printing

Screen printing is a process where the ink is forced through a stencil onto the material to be printed. The photographically produced stencil is applied to a fabric screen of silk, nylon or steel gauze, which is stretched tightly over a metal frame. The material to be printed – a piece of linen is placed in the guide rail so that printing in optimal registration is ensured when applying multiple colours. Ink is applied to the screen and spread over the stencil with a squeegee, which forces the ink through the gauze. The screen is applied onto the linen substrate during the printing process. Special ink is used for screen printing on linen, which exhibits extremely good adhesive properties. The advantage of this technique is that the print can be applied to virtually every surface. Exquisite results can be achieved. A disadvantage of screen printing is that the ink takes a long time to dry. Each binding or sheet of linen must be laid separately on drying racks, which requires a great deal of space and work.

Screen printing is recommended when a drawing by hand or painted illustration must be printed. Due to the thick ink layer, the original can be well imitated. The run-out of the ink during printing means that the screen technique has its limitations: fine-screen images are not possible and the procedure is not suitable for the reproduction of extremely delicate details. To assure the most accurate print placement, the designer can opt to print the bindings after they have been made. The height differences, caused by the use of different board thicknesses for the front and back covers and the spine, can be evened out by the printer by adjusting the printing table.


Hot foil stamping

Hot foil stamping is the result of applying an image or text to a book binding, an album or a box with a heated stamp by exerting a high or extremely high pressure. The heated embossing stamp used in this process causes localized material deformation at the same time as the transfer of the foil ink layer. This produces a relatively deep ‘dent’ or impression in the linen and board of the binding.

The smoothness and density of the fabric influence the sharpness of the print outlines. The most important factors in foil printing are: the cover material used, the type of foil, the achieved stamping pressure, the stamp and its temperature and the contact-duration. When the embossing stamp is engraved with varying depths, a relief print is the result. It is important that the cardboard used has a smooth surface and good firmness. In the case of very light-coloured linens, light-coloured cardboard should also be applied. The success of the foil application depends on the foil being released from the carrier, the creation of a sharp imprint and good adhesion of foil and bookcloth. 

Also the type of stamp is of great importance. There are many types available, including magnesium, copper and brass. The general rule of thumb is: the harder the metal, the longer the bevels will stay sharp and deliver crisp images. Magnesium dies are recommended for short runs as they are the most economical option for good images. However, the bevels on magnesium tend to lose sharpness, therefore, Copper dies are a better option as they are more robust. They deliver finer lines and details over a longer period of time. If you are looking for a long-term solution, you should choose brass dies. Although they are the most expensive option, they don’t lose its sharp bevels and provide you with clear and crisp images at all times.

A variety of effects can be produced on linen by applying different types of foil. Coloured foil with a matt or high gloss finish can be used. Gold and silver foil is also available in matt, satin and high gloss. On linen, satin and matt foils are often more attractive than foils with a high gloss finish. A relatively heavy imprint for a title frame in matt foil ensures that the structure of the linen is smoothed out completely. In a later production process, a sharply defined title in small lettering can be printed over this, using gold or silver foil. If this title was printed directly onto the linen, there would be a high likelihood of certain sections of the letters being filled in. Printing with stamps in which the text has been cut away is another attractive option. The title is then visible in relief. Gold and silver foils are more suitable than coloured foil for this application. These metal foils give better coverage than coloured foil, produce a sharper print and are more scratch resistant.  

Foil printing is widely recognized as an environmentally friendly printing technique. The absence of solvents and dust is a further advantage. The used foil remnants can be disposed of along with the normal waste, and the recycling of paper products printed with foil is no problem whatsoever.

Visit the Download Centre for a more detailed foil stamping guide >


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Eddie martinez inside thoughts brillianta bookcloth vanheektextiles 5
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Blind stamping and embossing

Blind stamping can be applied as an independent printing technique instead of e.g. foil printing. Large blocks or titles, a line motif or an ornament look particularly good on linen. Many illustrated books and art books that are bound in linen, and have a colourful dust jacket, receive a blind stamp on the binding, so that the book is also recognizable without its dust jacket. The blind stamping technique can be also applied as a pre-treatment if certain areas of the raw linen need to be pressed smooth, to enable a fine text or small illustration to be printed on the material afterwards. This technique is recommended for a ribbed fabric like Regina or a coarser fabric such as Halflinnen Dark. 

Blind stamping is also necessary when an illustration, previously printed by offset on paper or a self-adhesive material, must be applied to the binding. In this case, the blind stamp determines the positioning of the label to be applied ‘at depth’. In blind stamping the same stamps are needed as in foil printing. With regard to embossing, a patrix and a matrix or a stamp and a counterpart are normally required.


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Digital printing techniques

Dry toner printing

One of the most widely used printing techniques. A cost-effective method, highly suitable for low as well as high-volume print runs. At the same time, the wide variety of dry toner printers, their capabilities and toner characteristics pose a great challenge when giving one unified advice.

Generally speaking, better definition prints will be achieved on smooth fabrics such as Finesse. Courser materials such as Natuurlinnen tend to deliver less detail, however, some designers deliberately choose the combination of course texture with prints for a more distinctive look.

We advise to print samples and evaluate the quality prior to large print runs.


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unicover metallium menu van heek textiles

UV printing

UV printing uses special UV lights to cure (dry) ink as it is printed. By being dried instantly, the ink doesn’t get a chance to spread out, resulting in excellent printing definition. Another advantage of the digital UV printing technique is its versatility. Not only can it be used for simple texts, with UV printing you can add fine and detailed shapes to your work and combine those with glossy metallic or other embellishments effects.

Although being versatile, this printing technique is most suitable for smooth and coated substrates, such as Buckram Premium, Buckram Light, Fancy, Metallium, Finesse etc. On the coarser materials with a more ‘open’ texture, such as Halflinnen Dark or Regina, the ink tends to be soaked into the fabric, which might deliver blurred prints. We advise to use denser and/or coated materials when choosing UV printing, although the swift advancements in the technology make more and more substrates available for this technique.

Thanks to a special UV-compatible coating, Buckram Premium in white is particularly suitable for UV printing.

UV printing is considered as one of the most environmentally friendly printing techniques as it produces few volatile organic compound, odour and heat emissions.

Example: UV printed Buckram Premium on the inside of the menu card and foil stamped title on the cover. Work by Unicover 

Solvent inkjet printing

Solvent printing is suitable for high-volume prints at low price. Among many printing techniques, solvent print is one of the cheapest. Although it delivers lower resolution prints than UV, it is widely used for printing on textile cover materials. Nowadays, many are switching to other techniques as solvent inks are known to be aggressive and not as environmentally friendly as Latex or UV ink.

halflinnen dark bookcloth solvent printing vanheektextiles
latex print on white buckram light

Latex inkjet printing

Latex printers are capable of printing on a wide range of media substrates, and therefore very suitable for transferring artworks onto textile cover materials. As the ink is dried in the printer, the fabric rolls can be rolled up immediately after being printed. Latex ink is an odourless water-based solution, providing scratch- resistant and professional print quality with up to 1200 dpi resolution. Its high-speed high-quality printing with fast-drying times makes the technology extremely efficient.

The example was printed with a latex printer on a white Buckram Light.

Digital metallization / Thermal transfer printing

Add metallic gloss prints to your works by using digital foil printing technology. Digital foil printing enables you to apply high-gloss metallic effects on allocated parts of your work. Due to its digital application it can be used for small and bulk productions, giving you the freedom to reproduce the results fast and easy. This technique delivers sharp and scratch-resistant prints, highly suitable for flexible substrates as textiles, without deformation after the foil is applied as with the traditional hot stamp foiling.

The printing involves 3 main steps to produce a metalized image. First the design is printed on the substrate with toner or electro ink. Then the foil is applied on the surface of the pre-printed cloth. After removing the carrier film the digital foil printed media can be overprinted with digital or conventional printing.

As this technique is fairly new, not many examples are available yet. Therefore, we have tested some of our materials and achieved the best results with Finesse (in picture). We recommend prior testing the material to ensure best results.

Used: DM-liner Toner SRA3 by KURZ

Production by: Romeyn

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HP Indigo digital printing

HP Indigo printers were developed to deliver superb print quality at high printing speed. Unlike to the conventional digital printers, HP Indigo uses liquified toner, known as ElectroInk. The technology is widely and foremost used for the digital photo printing market as it brings state-of-the-art capabilities to a variety of image printing applications. At Van Heek Textiles we have developed canvas material Digotex specifically for the use in combination with HP Indigo printer series.

Read more about Canvas Digotex >

Printing datasheet

Learn which cover materials are most suitable for specific digital and/or conventional printing methods. Printing Datasheet provides you with a handy overview of all our cover materials with their corresponding printing suitability. Download the Printing Datasheet in the download centre on our website. LINK

We recommend to evaluate the printing results with your own equipment to make sure the achieved quality meets your expectations. 

Visit the Download Centre >

printing datasheet bookcloth vanheektextiles