The Soft Touch
The wide-format print space is growing, and one sub-segment that seems to be growing more rapidly than anything else is fabric and textile printing. In fact Smithers Pira, in its The Future of Digital Textile Printing to 2021 report, forecasts that textile printing will grow an average of 12.3 percent every year through 2021. Compared to the total amount of digital vs offset printing — all digital print will account for only 3.9 percent of all print volume by 2022, according to the Smithers Pira The Future of Digital vs Offset Printing to 2022 report — and you can see where a significant opportunity lies.
The use of fabrics graphics is growing,” says Michael Kurilec, Managing Director – Americas, EXPOLINC Corp. (Booth 2808). “In particular, the use of SEG is popular. [Other trends include] the demand for backlit solutions is increasing significantly; retail prices per square foot continue to drop dramatically; and turn times are shorter.”
“Textile printing is growing, and I suspect that it will continue to grow,” agrees Becky McConnell, Product Marketing Manager, FUJIFILM North America Corporation, Graphic Systems Division (Booth 1529). “With more demands for short-run, customized textiles, including printed interior décor, we will continue to see wide-format printing grow in that sector, given the versatility and flexibility of digital printing. Also, with all the savings to be had from a freight standpoint, I think we will continue to see soft signage grow in Sign & Display wide-format printing. End users and PSPs are seeing and realizing the value in producing easy to ship, lightweight materials for signage.”
It’s not just signage that is driving the trend, however. As technologies have improved dramatically, designers are starting to realize the power and freedom of being able to create their own fabrics for a wide range of projects.
“We are seeing rapid growth in the fashion clothing, apparel, costuming and home furnishings sectors of the digital textile market,” says Evan Lyons, Regional Sales Manager for INX International Ink Co. (Booth 1919). “This is due to the increase of print quality, unique design capabilities, reduced lead times and improvements in quality control standards. We are also seeing higher demands due to the customization and personalization digital print provides.”
For SGIA Expo attendees, this means the possibilities are endless. As with any other new trend or market segment, those shops who get ahead of it early will be the ones who establish themselves as the ones everyone else is trying to catch over the next few years. But they have to start somewhere, and SGIA is where many will make the decision to invest in the equipment and software that will allow them to fully embrace textile printing, no matter what the end application might be. The question is whether you will be one of the shops thought of as an innovator, creating new markets and forming new relationships with designers as they start to expand their limits — or will you be one of the shops waiting until next year, running the risk of already falling behind in a space that will likely only continue to get more and more competitive?