For many years, textile printing has been done almost exclusively in Asia and the market has been dominated by rotary screen and flat bet printing methods. While digital printing currently has only a 2% market share, interested in the printing method is growing and it is poised to take over the industry in the next few years.
This is because there are many benefits to digital printing over other printing methods. These benefits include:
- Ease of coloration;
- Direct printing from a computer screen;
- No silk screens or printing screens;
- No color kitchen required; and
- Attractive designs not possible with other methods.
Digital printing is also more environmentally responsible and sustainable as it creates significantly less waste, uses up to 30% less water than traditional printing methods, produces only 1/33 as much waste water, and consumes up to 45% less electricity. With all these benefits, it is no question that digital printing is the way of the future.
In fact, the only reason that digital printing has not yet dominated the industry is the relatively high cost of ink when compared to other printing methods. For the traditional longer run lengths of older fashions, ink jet printing was simply too slow and expensive to compete with rotary screen and flat bet printing. However, in more recent years digital printing has become a greater contender thanks to several important factors.
First, shorter fashion cycles have led to shorter run lengths which brings the price of ink jet printing more in line with other methods. Second, ink prices continue to fall rapidly, making even longer run lengths more affordable than ever before. Third, printer speeds are also improving, reducing the time delay long associated with digital printing. In fact, the LaRio printer from MS Printing Solutions boasts an impressive speed of up to 7200m2/h.
“Up until now digital machines were not fast enough to consider replacing analogue rotary. However, since we have introduced LaRio and now both flat and rotary printing can be replaced by digital format, so it is safe to say that someday all printing will be done digital format.”
- Walter Oggionni
CEO of MS Printing Solutions
While digital printing has not yet replaced older technologies, it is safe to say that the industry is poised on the brink of a significant shift to more effective and easier printing solutions including ink jet printing. Many textile producers have held to their familiar technologies for many years, saying that ink jet is simply not competitive. Thanks to new technologies, this attitude may finally be changing.