DURHAM, NC—The printed textile industry worldwide is $200-$300 billion worldwide, according to Flint Davis, President of WeaveUp, a digital printing specialist.
He expects digital printing, still in its infancy with only three to four percent of the world printed textile market, to take over 50 percent of the printed textiles market in years to come.
“Today’s digital printers are capable of producing 200 feet of fabric a minute and the crossover versus using rotary screen is now in the thousands of yards from an economic standpoint. And, with digital printing, there are no screens to make and there is no finished inventory; you print only what you need.” Davis says there are digital printers today in Turkey, Asia and South America that can print faster than rotary screen printers.
Better economy and speed to market is starting to drive the print business. Even rotary screen printers are getting into the g=digital printing business and if the design hits big, they can put it on the rotary screen printer for really big volume runs.
“It takes six to eight weeks to produce a rotary screen print sample which is time-consuming and expensive,” Davis says. It costs about $1,500-$3,000 to make a rotary printed sample. With digital printing, we can now produce samples in two to three days for a few dollars. We even inkjet print the header right on the fabric including the job number, customer design, underlying fabric type and project information.” WeaveUp developed the proprietary software to do this and the technology to print goes through the internet to the customer.
“Digitally printed fabric today will now perform and pass all the commercial tests,” he explains. “The customer can pick their design from our flexible library. We pay royalties to the artist and take a percentage of the eventual sales which our clients self-report to us.” He says there is no charge for the initial sample to the client. (For the complete story, see the next issue of F&FI)