Dye Sub­li­ma­tion Print­ing Vs Dig­i­tal Print­ing who will win the bat­tle ?

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With es­ti­mates of an­nual growth reach­ing 25%, the dig­i­tal tex­tile mar­ket is be­com­ing a tremen­dous op­por­tu­nity. The tex­tile mar­ket has been evolv­ing and print­ing has been gain­ing a foothold in this siz­able field. While screen-print­ing was the ini­tial choice for print­ing fab­ric, the mar­ket for dig­i­tal print­ing is now emerg­ing rapidly, mov­ing out of the pre­lim­i­nary laps and gain­ing mo­men­tum in In­dia.

It is es­ti­mated that in ev­ery fi­nan­cial year, around 100 ma­chines are in­stalled/month in ev­ery state of In­dia for dig­i­tal tex­tile print­ing. More and more shows ded­i­cated to dig­i­tal tex­tile print­ing like Fed­er­a­tion of Euro­pean Screen Prin­ters As­so­ci­a­tions (FESPA) are show­cas­ing the strengths of dig­i­tal print with tex­tiles. The rea­son is ob­vi­ous: size plus growth. Dig­i­tal print­ing ma­chines are used for var­i­ous ap­pli­ca­tions. Many such ma­chines are be­ing brought to In­dia by gar­ment ex­porters who use these for sam­pling pur­poses.

It has dual ap­pli­ca­tion in print­ing, act­ing both as a sam­pling and pro­duc­tion tool. In sam­pling, dig­i­tal print­ing of­fers im­me­di­ate re­sults, pro­vides tremen­dous flex­i­bil­ity in de­sign and col­oration while sav­ing time and money. As a pro­duc­tion tool, it helps in min­imis­ing in­ven­tory waste as there is no dis­charge of dyes and chem­i­cals, re­duc­ing down­times, cut­ting costs and pro­vid­ing the op­tion of mass cus­tomi­sa­tion.

In the past, this part of the job was done through process houses, but again, the pos­si­bil­ity of the work get­ting de­layed or be­ing ex­pen­sive would have made the process in­con­ve­nient for the ex­porters. Then came the need to in­stall a dig­i­tal print­ing ma­chine in-house, get­ting the pre-treated fab­ric from the process house and get it printed and make the gar­ment to get the ap­proval of the client. This kind of sam­pling is very con­ve­nient for them. It is but nat­u­ral that most dig­i­tal prin­ters are bought by this seg­ment.

Some ro­tary print­ing houses in In­dia typ­i­cally use dig­i­tal prin­ters as sam­pling ma­chines. Ear­lier, the bulk pro­duc­tion ro­tary print­ing ma­chine was used for sam­pling, due to which pro­duc­tiv­ity was lower. Now, it has been ar­ranged in such a way that sam­pling will be done on the dig­i­tal printer, while the bulk pro­duc­tion will be done on the ro­tary print­ing ma­chine. More dig­i­tal prin­ters are be­ing bought for this pur­pose. Then, there are niche seg­ments like silk or high value added prod­ucts, where runs are very short; dig­i­tal prin­ters are used for such pur­poses. There are also high speed pro­duc­tion ma­chines which are used for fur­nish­ing fab­rics, home tex­tiles and bed sheets.

There are a lot of changes in terms of tech­nol­ogy also and while ini­tially inkjet was used for pro­to­typ­ing and was one­off, in due course of time the cost in­volved in set­ting up screens paved the way for inkjet based print­ing.

Tra­di­tional wide for­mat orig­i­nal equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers are con­tin­u­ing to in­tro­duce new tech­nol­ogy that will print on fab­rics which in­cludes sig­nage and dis­plays (i.e. soft sig­nage) such as ban­ners and posters, tradeshow graph­ics, POP/POS dis­plays, flags, etc. Then there’s in­te­rior dé­cor that in­cludes wall, chair and sofa cov­er­ings, drapes and cur­tains, bed sheets, ta­ble and fur­ni­ture cov­er­ings and even car­pet­ing. Fi­nally, the very pop­u­lar gar­ment/ ap­parel cat­e­gory in­cludes wear­ables such as T-shirts, caps, sports­wear and more. All these ap­pli­ca­tions are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing tremen­dous growth.

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