"Technical issues have been solved" today, the biggest issues are market issues.
I.T. Strategies, the consulting firm based in Hanover, MA, projects that manufacturers’ revenues for digital textile printers--comprising sales of hardware, media, and ink--will grow to nearly $6 billion by 2010. In 2005, I.T. estimates, manufacturers' revenues in this market category came to $1.9 billion.
In addition, reports I.T., in 2005, almost 90% of revenues were from roll-to-roll printers, driven by soft signage applications, reports the consultancy. Between now and 2010, however, flatbed inkjet printers used for printing on finished garments (primarily T-shirts) are expected to grow to more than 40% of total revenues.
'Digitally printing on fabric--whether rolls of fabric or finished garments--has been going on since the mid 1990s,' says Patti Williams, I.T. Strategies consulting partner. 'However, the market has been slow to develop for both technical and market reasons. For the most part, the technical issues have been solved and today the biggest issues are market issues--such as reaching new customers.'
I.T. Strategies divides digital textile printing into two primary segments based on printer configuration: roll-to-roll and direct-to-garment (DTG), flatbed printers designed and used for printing on textiles. The products produced on these printers, when segmented this way, fall into two primary areas: rolls of fabric (used for signage, furnishings and apparel applications) and finished garments (such as T-shirts).
The consultancy also reports:
* Revenues from media (e.g., T-shirts, bags, rolls of fabric) comprise about half of total revenue in this market segment. 'For the most part, media revenues are not accessible to digital printer OEMs. In the roll-to-roll segment, many print shops buy rolls of fabric from traditional fabric suppliers, not digital print suppliers; finished garments such as T-shirts and bags will also come from manufacturers outside the traditional digital print community. As the market grows, however--especially in the direct-to-garment segment--there will be an opportunity for dealers of ink jet hardware, media, and ink to sell garments for digital printing to new users entering the market and looking for sources of garments, bags, and other types of products that can be directly printed with inkjet printers.'
* The worldwide retail value of printed output from inkjet textile printers will grow from $3.3 billion in 2005 to more than $18 billion by 2010. In 2005, says I.T., revenues from direct-to-garment, flatbed inkjet printers were about $900 million worldwide (about 30% of total revenues). By 2010, revenues from direct-to-garment inkjet printers are expected to grow to almost $13 billion (about 70% of total revenues). "The growth of direct-to-garment inkjet printers is based on the fact that there is already an existing market for printing on T-shirts,' says Williams. 'Lots of consumers already buy T-shirts. These direct-to-garment printers will be purchased by current garment decorators such as screen printers and embroiderers. However, they are already and will continue to be purchased by companies new to garment decorating such as Internet-based retailers like CafePress and Zazzle, event printers who will take them to gatherings such as state fairs and sporting events, and photographers that will see an additional income stream by offering their images on garments."