Over the past few years, digital textiles have been growing. Better print technologies, more diverse substrates, and greater awareness are all contributing to the growth of the category. But that said, it has still only scratched the surface, and as visitors to PRINTING United will find, the true explosion of growth and opportunity is just starting to arrive.
“Digital textiles are growing fast,” notes Richard J. Hatton, president of E. L. Hatton Sales Co. / Banner Ups (Booth 125). “We’ve been watching it, and we have products aligned to that … and it’s exploding.”
One of the driving factors is that print buyers are starting to truely discover the power of customization. Instead of creating products and spaces around what’s available, they are beginning to realize the potential in being able to bring their original vision to life.
“I’m seeing more and more print-on-demand for commercial interiors, especially,” says Kristen Dettoni, founder of Design Pool, an online firm that looks to connect designers with digital textiles and the printers who create them. “They touch almost every surface — upholstery, carpets, wallcoverings, curtains, etc. Over the last five years, I have started seeing more people delve into this.”
Some of those designers and brands, she notes, are looking to jump in themselves, but far more are looking to partner with printers who bring not only technology to the table, but experience in creating eye-catching textiles that can stand up to their intended purpose. They are also attracted to the shorter production minimums digital printing offers, giving designers more flexibility and freedom to create while staying within set budgets.
All of this is nothing but opportunity for printers who embrace this space early, and then go out and market to the masses.
That doesn’t just mean investing in a digital textile printer and walking away, however. Printers who are successful in this space will be the ones who ensure the right print technology is backed up with the right software, the right finishing, the right processes, and the right substrates. They will find ways to automate and streamline every step along the way, finding new ways to not only exceed expectations when it comes to quality, but also when it comes to speed and creativity.
“We live in an on-demand world where speed and the ability to deliver customized products is critical to success,” says Scott Schinlever, president of Gerber Technology (Booths 8833, 8850). “For the digital textile market, this means moving towards an automated process that leverages Industry 4.0 to fully connect the supply chain, allowing printers to move with the speed they need to thrive.”
The digital textile trend isn’t going to vanish. Rather, it will only continue to grow, moving from a niche segment to a powerhouse product. As you walk the PRINTING United show floor, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and think about how digital textiles might fit into your long-term plan. It might just be the next big thing that catapults your business to the next level.