The pioneers of the new frontier of digital textile and apparel printing were on display for the first time at Messe Frankfurt’s Avanprint USA show Monday at New York’s Jacob. K. Javits Convention Center.
While logistics prevented some of the largest digital printing machines to be brought to the show, companies did bring along some of their digital printers, demonstrating their fast-paced capabilities and colorful array of options on fabrics and finished goods.
Mark Jarvis, managing director of World Textile Information Network, which helped put together Avanprint, said digital printing now represents about 5% of the print market, but is growing at a 20% annual rate.
Jarvis said the interest in digital printing is coming from many sides of the industry – creative, production planning, cost effectiveness, sustainability – all areas stressed by exhibitors on the show floor.
“The show gives these companies in the space a chance to discuss with potential clients what their needs are, what their companies can offer,” Jarvis said. “Digital printing fits into the Industry 4.0 concept. It’s offers transparency and customization, which is desired in today’s market, and is available from small machines for pre-production and large machines for mass manufacturing.”
He and others noted that it also fits into the reshoring movement, where companies realize that in order to produce in the U.S., they need to reduce their costs as much as possible.”
[Read more on digital textile printing: Digital Printing Fuels Speed to Market]
Tim Hallett, North America marketing director at Kornit Digital, which makes a range of textile digital printers, noted that the process and market are growing significantly because the process fits into the need for “cost-effective, short-run production.”
Kornit, based in Israel, is seeing a lot of interest in companies looking to manufacture more in the U.S., and that know that “technology can supplant the labor element” and make producing in the country possible.
Hallett said the Kornit’s marketing emphasized a return on investment of about nine months, adding that the company has the ability to customize its product and be a “turnkey solution.”
Paolo Torricella, area sales manager and product manager for the digital division of EFI Reggiani, said he too has seen growth in the U.S. market thanks to the Central American Free Trade Agreement. He said EFI has established “clusters” in Guatemala, El Salvador, Haiti and the Dominican Republic to provide digital printing for factories that use U.S. yarn and fabric to make their garments and then ship them back to the U.S. duty free and with the ability to use the Made in USA label on the finished product.
Torricella noted that EFI uses an Ink Recovery System that reuses 96% of the ink used in the printing process and has just received the European Unions “Green Label” for it.
EFI covers the key steps in the apparel workflow. In design, its Optitex 2D and 3D solutions enable creation of pattern designs, allowing the user to customize with a range of tools in the pattern design software.
EFI’s Fiery quickly and accurately coverts designs into printing data, while its printing solutions offer a digital printing process with a wide range of water-based inks.
Ann Sawchak, principal at Expand Systems, said, “The economics of the world is making digital printing more important. With costs getting higher and speed to market more important, the industry is really starting to invest in new technologies like digital printing and automated manufacturing that answer these needs.”
Expand takes a vertical approach to the process, providing the fabric and ink, printer, software and finishing. It also worked with Mess Frankfurt to create the trend displays for the Avanprint show.