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WHY YOU SHOULD SWITCH TO DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY FOR SUSTAINABLE TEXTILE PRODUCTION

IMAGE CREDIT: KORNIT DIGITAL

CAPTION: LAUNCHING AT ITMA IN JUNE 2019, THE KORNIT PRESTO, HIGH SPEED DIGITAL TEXTILE PRINTER OFFERS A UNIQUE PIGMENT INK SET, IN-LINE PRE-TREATMENT AND IS THE ONLY MACHINE IN ITS CLASS THAT OFFERS A ONE STEP PROCESS FOR DIGITAL TEXTILES.

Much is made of the enormous progress made in the field of entry-level Digital Textile Printing, but in a separate eco-system entirely, volume manufacturing, professional trade printers and independent retailers must move to adopt digital textile printing in order to meet the speed of demand for print, alongside sustainable just-in-time production.

With average run lengths for entry level printers running at between 3-6 metres per job, the average run length for the trade printers is between 175 and 325 metres, representing totally different prospect for Digital Textile Machinery Suppliers.

In this field, the mantras are, workflow, efficiency and reliability, as well as ink-cost and speed.

At the entry level, machine speeds range from 10 to 25 linear metres per hour, and machine costs vary from £25k through to £50k.

At the Trade Roll to Roll Level, speeds range from 150 to 350 linear metres per hour, and machine costs from £400k to £600k.

Studying these figures, it is immediately obvious that the economic disciplines are totally different between the two sectors, and that, as the Digital Textile printing market continues to expand, and volumes and quantities increase, trade printers are becoming progressively more influential,  and their plant requirements have to rise to meet this challenge.

The volume of print in the Textile space (total available print market $48 billion. Source: Smithers Pira) offers incredible opportunities for Digital Print Technologies, with predicted growth of over 17.5% per annum for the digital print sector over the next five years, more than doubling to $3.94 billion. Currently digital print occupies approximately only 5% of the available textile print market, and its growing fast.

As already stated, the Economic Disciplines for Trade Printing are completely different to those that apply in the Entry Level Sector.

There is no question, that, as existing trade Textile Printers re-equip, they must take significant account of the potential benefits of fast, efficient digital textile printing machines.

They see the main advantages as savings in screen engraving costs, savings in process time, savings in labour and utility usage, and they will apply their own trade analysis to their investment decisions.

However, outside the existing Textile Printers, substantial volume opportunities exist and are growing by the year.

Soft Furnishing and Drapes manufacturers see that Digital Printing could mean the end of vast warehouses to hold the forward stock of their extended supply chain.

For them, the ability to react to demand, without the huge financial and risk burden of importation planning is worth a fortune, and they see Digital Textile Printing at this higher level as potential tipping point in their supply chain conundrum.

Sportswear Manufacturers also appreciate the speed and versatility of the Digital Printer.

Using Pattern nesting software combined with Laser Cutting, they see the volume digital printer as a means to deal with volume supply of customised apparel, manufactured entirely on site, and available with a tremendous turn of speed.

The same Discipline applies to volume fashion apparel manufacturers, where ecommerce and data interchange, force the manufacturer to seriously consider the benefits of volume digital printing.

Here again, the impact of bespoke software cannot be overemphasised, as the Digital Printer turns out short runs of fabric, varying by size, design and colour, allowing the manufacturer to cope with the changing patterns of demand as they occur.

Beyond these three trades, the spectrum of opportunity continues, with Craft printers, printing Tea Towels, Aprons and Kitchenware, with Cushion makers printing their own designs in-house for volume retail, and with Fabric houses producing their own Ranges without the burden of a lengthy design process or extensive warehousing.

In all these volume textile trades, the vital component is the trade level Roll to Roll Digital printing machine, combining, as it does, the beauty and scalability of Digital Printing with the hard nose realism that the world of commerce demands.

Setting up a Roll to Roll Digital Print Plant, cannot be a flight of fancy, or an act of faith, it has to be a reasoned and calculated decision, which if intelligently applied, will bring substantial benefits over the years, to those who decide to move with the times and invest in Roll to Roll Digital Textile Printing.

IMAGE CREDITS: KORNIT DIGITAL