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Types of Dyes
To classify dyes into any particular category is really an uphill task, for there are plethora of dyes that have evolved over the years with its typical chemical structures, and commercial names. Typically a dye-formulation is supposed to have approximately 10-80% pure dyestuff. Generally it is has been observed that for dyestuffs that are delivered in powder form, a higher value is typically obtainable. While a lower value is obtained for the liquid formulations.

Here we will try to give a general view of the types of dyes that can be categorized under a few major classes.

Chemical classification of the Dyes

According to a system of chemical classification, dyes can be divided according to the nature of their Chromophore:

  Group Uses
Category: Acridine dyes, derivatives of acridine >C=N-and>C=C Textiles, leather
Category: Anthraquinone dyes, derivatives of anthraquinone >C=O and>C=C Textiles
Category: Arylmethane dyes
  • Diarylmethane dyes, based on diphenyl methane
  • Triarylmethane dyes, based on triphenyl methane
Category: Azo dyes, based on a -N=N- azo structure
Category: Cyanine dyes, derivatives of phthalocyanine
Category: Diazonium dyes, based on diazonium salts
Category: Nitro dyes, based on the -NO2 nitro functional group
Category: Nitroso dyes, are based on a -N=O nitroso functional
Category: Phthalocyanine dyes, derivatives of phthalocyanine >C=N Paper
Category: Quinone-imine dyes, derivatives of quinone Wool and paper
Category: Azin dyes
  • Eurhodin dyes
  • Safranin dyes, derivatives of safranin -C-N=C- -C-N-C
Leather and textile
Category: Xanthene dyes, derived from xanthene -O-C6H4-0 Cotton, Silk and Wool
Category: Indophenol dyes, derivatives of indophenol >C=N-and>C=O Colour photography
Category: Oxazin dyes, derivatives of oxazin -C-N=C =C-O-C= Calico printing
Category: Oxazone dyes, derivatives of oxazone
Category: Thiazin dyes, derivatives of thiazin
Category: Thiazole dyes, derivatives of thiazole >C=N-and-S-0= Intermediate
Category: Fluorene dyes, derivatives of fluorene
Category: Rhodamine dyes, derivatives of rhodamine
Category: Pyronin dyes

Dyes according to the nuclear structure

Though not very popular but dyes can be categorized into types by using this method of classification:
  • Cationic Dyes
  • Anionic Dyes
Industrial Classification of the Dyes

As globally majority of the dyestuff is primarily consumed by the textile industry, So at this level a classification can be done according to their performances in the dyeing processes. Worldwide around 60% of the dyestuffs are based on azo dyes that gets consumed by in the textile finishing process. Major classes of dyes in textile finishing is given here.

Major Dye classes and the substrates:
  • Acid
  • Azoic
  • Basic
  • Direct
  • Disperse
  • Reactive
  • Solvent
  • Sulphur
  • Vat
  • Mordant
Classification based on the source of materials

A very common classification of the dyestuff is based on the source from which it is made. Accordingly the classification could be:
  • Natural Dyes
  • Synthetic Dyes
Other important dyes

A number of other classes have also been established, based among others on application, that includes the following:

Leather Dyes - Used for leather.

Oxidation Dyes - Used mainly for hair.

Optical Brighteners - Used primarily for textile fibers and paper.

Solvent Dyes - For application in wood staining and production of coloured lacquers, solvent inks, waxes and colouring oils etc.

Fluorescent Dyes - A very innovative dye. Used for application in sports good etc.

Fuel Dyes - As the name suggests it is used in fuels.

Smoke Dyes - Used in military activities.

Sublimation Dyes - For application in textile printing.

Inkjet Dyes - Writing industry including the inkjet printers.

Leuco Dyes - Has a wide variety of applications including electronic industries and papers.


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