TECH TALK Printing It Right
With the textile printing industry growing by leaps and bounds, Anurima Das takes a look at the future of digital textile printing.
Decoding the future of digital textile printing ng
According to the Smithers Pira report on the future of digital textile printing, the market is set to grow by 17.5 per cent over the next five years to reach a market value of $2.66 billion. The printing market is a very versatile and creative segment of the textile industry. The dimensions of this segment guarantee so much variety on the clothes that there can never be a garment with ordinary prints on it.
Textile print offers a diversified market owing to its vast array of possibilities. From t-shirts to leggings and dresses to home ware, everything requires a print touch to get revived. Print is slowly becoming a taste and a choice for people who want to wear colourful chic clothes. Apart from the statistics, on the ground reality, print is raging ahead like a bull and winning business like never before. Mike Horsten, General Marketing Manager, Mimaki had, last year, at an exhibition mentioned that everything in the textile value chain is soon going to get digital. Many like him believe that print is set to change the facets of the industry for the better and the digital revolution has already been initiated.
Consumers are print ready and so are the national and international print providers. Companies ranging from printing machine manufacturers to paint and colour manufacturers, everyone is symbiotically working towards transforming the digital printing segment of the textile industry. Digital printing is a key factor resting on which the digitalisation of the textile sector will unfurl. In addition to becoming predominant in the fast fashion sector, print looks to occupy the chief spot in home furnishings and technical textiles too.
Unlike screen printing, the reason for digital printing’s gaining prominence is the convenience and time-saving approach it guarantees. Making the screens for printing was an expensive and exhaustive affair, wherein you needed unique screens for each colour used in the design. Here, digital printing offers a cheaper solution and has the ability to print small runs for each design, giving screens a miss. The screen built-up also made designs suffer, as once the screen was done one had to print in bulk to meet the rising cost of the screen. This gave rise to yards of similar boring prints.
CONSUMERS ARE PRINT READY AND SO ARE THE NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL PRINT PROVIDERS.
Digital prints allow you to customise designs, print as many limited yardages you want using one design and then move on to innovating one print at a time. The inkjet printing technology used in digital printing was first patented in 1968. Progressing to the 1990s, this printer found its application exclusively in the paper printing press. This technology was in widespread use for years until the mode of the printer was specialised and revived to handle a variety of substrates, everything from paper to canvas to vinyl, and of course, fabric.
Digital printing machines are made keeping in view varied fabric types including the likes of cotton, silk, polyester, nylon, etc. To start the printing process, the fabric is fed through the printer using rollers and ink is applied to the surface in the form of thousands of tiny droplets. The fabric is then offered a finishing touch, where using heat or steam, the ink is cured. Various printers and printing techniques also require a special washing stage where the printed fabric requires washing and drying. Digitally printed fabric will wash and wear the same as any other fabric. However, sometimes the washing stage is incorporated to fade certain colours from the fabric.
The best part of digital printing is that the designs can be created using a range of easily available software or can even be hand-drawn. This you can later scan and feed onto the fabric using computer graphics. This flexibility makes it easier for you to manipulate design to print orientations. While Epson, Mimaki, Zimmer, etc.
THE BEST PART OF DIGITAL PRINTING IS THAT THE DESIGNS CAN BE CREATED USING A RANGE OF EASILY AVAILABLE SOFTWARE OR CAN EVEN BE HAND-DRAWN. THIS YOU CAN LATER SCAN AND FEED ONTO THE FABRIC USING COMPUTER GRAPHICS.
today lead the digital printing machine market, brands like Archroma, Camel, etc. lead the global market for digital colours and print solvents. The industry is now headed to solve the problem of chemicals with the use of natural colours. Also most of these machines deliver precision in every print cycle, guaranteeing zero wastage.
The various types of digital printing techniques available today are: Direct Print, Discharge Print, Resist Print, Pigment Print, Reactive Print, Acid Print, Disperse Print, and Specialty Print. Each technique has diversified usage and each piece of garment and fabric can be modified with a designer touch, using printing. The dyes used for digital printing depends on the fabric, for example, acid inks are used on silk and nylon; disperse inks on polyesters and reactive inks are used on all cellulose based fabrics such as cotton, linen and rayon. Apart from the economical aspect in terms of design deliverance, digital printers are environment-friendly and there is no discharge of chemicals during the run process. This negates the pollution factor completely.
Printing has progressed a great deal today and almost at every trade show hosted on a global level, a special pavilion is kept dedicated to digital printing. At Heimtextil 2017, the Digital Textile Micro Factory was set up. This gave a live illustration of the entire digital production cycle, from design, digital printing and automated cutting to serial manufacturing integrated into the workflow. This was a unique opportunity for the visitors to witness how a simple printing machine can transform an ordinary piece of fabric into something extraordinary in just a few minutes. According to expert reports on growth opportunities for this segment of the industry, numbers predict that the digital print share is set to prosper, registering a segment mean growth of three per cent through this year. The market in 2016 for the digital textiles market was about 2.8 per cent of the overall print volume.
The retail industry is ready to step ahead with a variety of digitally printed clothes and fabrics. From the A-list designers to the domestic manufacturers, everyone is set to benefit from the digitalisation trend and digital printing is here to stay! It won’t be too late when you will see the reality of prints transcending every nook and corner of the textile industry, revolutionising little details all along its journey.