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How Digital Textile Printing Promises to Boost Creativity and Production Speeds

Digital printing has a projected annual growth rate of 26 percent, and this skyrocketing adoption reflects the impact this innovation has on the entire production process. It provides designers with more flexibility, gives brands the power to produce the latest styles on demand and offers retailers the ability to compete with fast fashion turn rates—all at a lower cost than traditional printing.

In short, digital printing can greatly transform the apparel industry, allowing it to keep pace with today’s consumer.

Below is a closer look at the advantages of going digital.

More creative and design options: Digital printing gives designers the ability to print any pattern, graphic, solid color, or photo-realistic image on fabric in an unlimited range of sharp, vibrant, high-resolution colors. The colorfast pigments used in digital printing can be used on many types of fabric, with a quality level surpassing that of traditional silkscreen textile printing, which is limited by both the number of colors that can be printed and the resolution of the final design. Digital printing supports purchase-activated or on-demand manufacturing. This supports a design process that enhances creativity and collaboration because small batch processes allow for more customization, which continues to be a driving trend among consumers, especially millennials.

Faster sampling and enabling “fast fashion”: Digital printing technology is ideal for fast design and production of product samples, as well as for rapid development of new, short-run “fast fashion” lines to catch the latest fashion trends. Compared to traditional textile silkscreen production methods—where a new fabric pattern can take weeks to be produced and printed, and where production and setup costs make short-yardage fabric runs prohibitively expensive—with digital printing, new designs can be created, printed, and produced for short production runs in just a few days. This gives apparel designers and marketers the power to create samples, products and even entire collections in short runs, and gives innovative designers and apparel makers the first-mover advantage to get their products into retail faster than competitors using traditional production methods.

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Lower production and opportunity costs: For producing patterned fabrics of any type, digital printing frees designers and apparel executives from the high setup costs of traditional textile printing. Lower production costs, combined with the faster speed and time-to-market of digital printing, also reduces the “opportunity cost” of these long production times by enabling apparel makers to get their products into the market faster, to generate sales and profits ahead of competitors.

Environmental consciousness and greater sustainability: Digital printing can contribute to sustainability in a number of ways as long as environmentally conscious methods are used. Many digital printing processes dramatically reduce water contamination associated with traditional textile color dying methods. Digital printing supports purchased activated or on-demand manufacturing. Allowing sellers to only produce what is ordered eliminates dead inventory which costs the retail industry billions of dollars each year. Smaller batch or customized orders based upon demand, enables a move toward localization where finished goods are manufactured closer to the point of sale. This supports economic growth and sustainability in local economies and helps to minimize the carbon footprint from shipping and packaging and minimizing waste in the process.

Gerber Technology provides software and automation solutions which integrate the entire design and development process while also supporting efficiency and visualization into sourcing and production. AccuMark®, Gerber’s industry-leading intelligent pattern design, grading, marker making and production planning software, provides integrated image placement and positioning within and alongside all of the main features provided in these apparel production systems.