Nine things you must know about the textile market and its opportunities.
• It wastes little media in starting a print job, in contrast to analog presses, which can waste from tens to hundreds of meters before actually printing.
• It’s generally safer and less environmentally hazardous than hazardous textile printing, important considerations for many brands and retailers.
• It consumes less energy, water and man-power than traditional screen printing.
• It enables customization and even personalization – services for which producers can charge a premium.
The last of these – customization and personalization – are specialties of digital textile printing. As to personalization and even “one-off” production, these are the highest level of customization, jobs that digital printers can produce and that analog printers cannot.
Europe is the single-biggest market today for producers of digital textiles, led by the Italians and the Turks. Italy is home to many of the leading fashion brands in the world, and has become a greenhouse for the digital textile printing business. In 2011, EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa) represented 42 percent of the world’s installed base of digital textile printing systems. Continued transition from analog to digital is expected to fuel a 17.5-percent CAGR through 2016. The AP market (Asian-Pacific) ranks second in terms of installed base, with over 2300 total units operating in 2011 (39 percent of global installed base); that total is expected to increase to over 5400 in 2016, marking an 18.7-percent CAGR. AP includes not only China and India, but also two young and growing textile manufacturing countries: Bangladesh and Pakistan.
How Printing Fits into the Textile Supply Chain
In the textile market, printing is just one stage in a supply chain that is far longer and more complicated than many other markets that rely on printing. Printing is typically a subsidiary activity and likely outsourced by many primary suppliers to the print service provider. It might be ordered by the designer of the garments. It might be ordered by a fabric intermediary (those firms are often referred to as converters and are responsible for sourcing fabrics from a mill, providing the graphic-design element, and delivering cloth ready for subsequent production). It might be specified by an integrated textile mill that wants to offer a range of options for the coloration of its products – not just printing but also dyeing and weaving.