Digital textile printing continues to grow

Influence of social media and eCommerce

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The primitive human tendency to decorate and express through visuals has evolved from carving on stony cave walls to printing on clothes in order to communicate our beliefs, knowledge and ideas. Today, this tendency to decorate has paved the way for digital textile printing for decor, garments, household, technical, and display textiles. The emerging trend of personalization, in particular, is triggering the rapid growth of the industry.

The global digital textile printing industry is growing at a steady pace. The industry, which was valued at Rs 8000 crores in 2015, saw the figures soaring to Rs 10290.4 crores in 2017, and it is further expected to reach up to Rs 26,200 crores by 2022, according to a report by Allied Market Research. A report by Future Market Insights suggests that the industry is expected to grow by 16% annually during the forecast period of 2018-2028. The report also mentions that more than 60% of the revenue in digital textile was generated by direct-to-fabric segment in 2018.

The Asia Pacific region continues to show the highest CAGR of 18% during the forecast period of 2016-2022, according to a report by Allied Market Research. China, Italy, India, Turkey, and the US lead in terms of digital textile printing usage. The output volume of digitally printed fabric in China, Italy, India, Turkey, and the US is 47% of the global volume. In addition, China’s investments in high-end machinery are expected to contribute significantly to output volumes in the coming years.

According to the report, sublimation transfer continues to be the most popular in the ink segment. Given the lower cost of sublimation printers and reduced ink prices, direct sublimation transfer technique is popular and can be observed as trending in fashion textile printing.

The growth in digital textile printing is the result of the advancement of printing techniques and technology. Digital texting printing is rapidly replacing conventional screen printing owing to the several benefits that it offers in terms of saving time and costs by reducing the consumption of dye, water and energy in the post-print finishing process. This makes it a sustainable printing option. The versatile ability of digital to print on different substrates further gives it an edge over traditional printing methods.

However, it is not merely a technological advancement that is responsible for the shift in the textile printing industry. Andy Yarrow, president of Kornit Digital’s Asia Pacific region, at the recent Shift_019 event on 9 May 2019 in New Delhi presented some of the global trends and opportunities in the textile industry. According to him, current mega trends (trends that keep growing with time) in the fashion industry are a strong influencer to the textile printing industry. These include the personal expressive attitude of millennials, the influence of social media on fashion choices, the rising popularity of eCommerce and growing awareness towards sustainability.

According to Yarrow, around 74% of millennials love personalized apparel and are willing to pay 20% more for it. Also, social media has come a long way from a communication medium to one that influences fashion choices. Approximately 46% of consumers get their fashion ideas from social media platforms such as Instagram. At the same time, the ultra-fast business model of online shopping has led to a meltdown of traditional retail. Retailers are shutting stores due to stagnancy in sales and this phenomenon does not spare luxury brands either. Yarrow illustrated this point by giving the example of popular fashion apparel brand H&M, which burned around US$ 4.3 billion of its unsold clothes in 2018.

The high per unit printing cost is making it a challenge for the industry to adopt digital completely. Traditional printing technologies are still being used for secondary packaging. While conventional printing enjoys more trust and prominence due to consistency and quality in long run print work, digital needs to evolve to adapt to high volume handling in order to grow further.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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