Opportunities for expansion in digital textile print

by FESPA | 12/01/2016
Opportunities for expansion in digital textile print

With a host of traditional printers having diversified into the digital textile print market, there is clearly room for further growth and expansion.

Although digital textile printing may involve a lot of different techniques than the traditional processes most print companies are used to, if such printers are able to master these technologies, then there is plenty of business to be won.

The FESPA Digital Textile Conference 2016 will demonstrate such opportunities to those companies thinking of diversifying into the market. 

Taking place at the RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre in the Dutch capital of Amsterdam on March 8 2016, the event will welcome a host of specialist speakers from across the sector, each of which will give advice on how traditional printers can gain access to new and exciting work in digital textile print.

Business and market opportunities within digital textile print will be a key focus of the event, with several speakers set to base their presentation on not only the business to be won in this sector, but also how traditional print companies can actually expand their services into the market.

Market drivers

One speaker that will consider the growth and development of the market is Ron Gilboa, director of functional print and packaging and Infotrends. 

Gilboa will kick off the day with his session ‘Insights into the growth and creative development of digital textiles markets’, which will look at both the technical and market drivers in digital textiles, as well as what sort of direction the market is heading in.

Opening up about his session ahead of the event, Gilboa says the textile print market is currently “bubbling” with new opportunities for graphic arts print providers and that those who have established themselves in the digital market are beginning to take note of opportunities available further afield.

“Print providers who have long been adopting digital print technologies such as dye sublimation and pigment wide format printers are now realising the new opportunities that these technologies possess, and they are adopting new business practices that make it possible to deliver these new services to clients.” Gilboa said.

Fig 11

What percentage of your business is attributable to the following applications? 

“In the 2015 landmark FESPA Print Census research conducted by InfoTrends, over 1,000 respondents reported that 22 percent of their business is attributed to fabric and textile printing. This significant percentage is driven by consumer demand for a product that suits their needs, and the textile industry at large is migrating from mass production to mass customisation.

“The benefits of digitally printed textiles are driving fabric printing organisations to consider the advantages of digitally printed textiles, including a lower environmental impact, greater flexibility for design and print, creative benefits, and shorter run localised print capabilities. In addition, technological developments have made inkjet printing onto fabric viable for many wide-format graphic printers in terms of quality and cost.”

Gilboa goes on to say that research demonstrates the opportunities available to traditional graphic arts print companies in the digital textile print sector and the market is only set for further expansion as more organisations pick up on this trend.

“This market is diversified and presents numerous opportunities for print providers as well as equipment manufacturers,” Gilboa said. “The latter group’s success is evident with over 11,000 unit placements for textile printers in 2014.

Fig 21

2014 Worldwide Digital Textile Printer Unit Placements 

“Although the majority of these placements are aimed at graphics applications such as signs and displays, the remaining placements are in garment and décor applications. Combined, these units will drive rapid print volume growth in their respective environments.

“Print providers are responding to changes in the marketplace and consumer demand, which are indicating that textile-based applications will likely generate business growth.”

Prepare for the move

Despite championing the sector as a potential area for growth, Gilboa warns that companies considering moving into this market should familiarise themselves with the technology and techniques required to produce this work. He said as the marker has been around for a long time, there are certain expectations that have to be upheld if you are to be a success.

“Textile printing is a vast market with over 35bn metres of fabrics produced annually in garment and décor,” Gilboa said. Digital printing is transforming the market on many levels, enabling a high degree of creativity, improved operational efficiency, and a reduced environmental impact for fabric manufacturing.

“These fundamentals, in addition to web-enabled business models, are democratising the garment and décor market, enabling a host of companies to enter the marketplace and offer quality materials with limitless design. This in turn can drive new business opportunities that are profitable and in demand for print providers.

Fig 31

How are these applications changing as a percentage of your wide format printing business?

“Nevertheless, the apparel and décor markets are not new and have established expectations regarding textile quality in terms of permanence, safety, and human contact. All of these factors must be taken into consideration, so graphic arts producers who are looking to enter the garment and décor segments should be well-versed in the way business is conducted in these industry segments.

With this in mind, Gilboa goes on to give a few words of advice to companies that want to expand into the digital textile print sector, explaining they must prepare both their print environment and staff for the change in work.

“You should become well-versed on technologies and market needs,” Gilboa explained. “It’s also important to develop a network of ancillary service providers that will enable you to provide turnkey solutions, including fabric sourcing, printing, cutting, and sewing.

“As with many other applications, understanding the cost of ingredients, technological capabilities, and staffing requirements will be critical for success.”

Talking shop

Gilboa will be discussing all this and more during his presentation at the FESPA Digital Textile Conference 2016 this March. During his session, he will focus on the market’s latest developments related to technological innovations and material sciences that fuel this market and sustain its growth in print value in the coming years.

Gilboa also plans to look at how such new technologies are enabling a range of implementations and serving a diverse audience for garments, décor and graphic arts applications. With this in mind, he appeals to those both already established in the digital textile print sector and those considering moving into the market to attend the event in order to catch up with the latest goings-on from this area of the industry.

“Education and an understanding of critical market trends are fundamental for developing new business opportunities,” Gilboa said. “FESPA events targeted toward print producers and buyers are paving the way for an increased understanding and continued adoption of digital textile printing worldwide by bringing together innovative technologies and end industry leaders to support education and new business development.”

FESPA Digital Textile Conference 2016

The FESPA Digital Textile Conference 2016 will be held on the 8th of March 2015 at the RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre in Amsterdam. Attendees will be able to gain further insight into textile printing market and gather ideas for designing their own profitable niche.

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