Many businesses involved in digital printing on paper have diversified into textile print, citing numerous benefits of expanding their services. In fact, the worldwide market for digitally printed textiles is predicted to generate over $1.25 billion in 2015 from total machines and ink-revenues to suppliers.
A growing market
The demand for digital fabric/textile printing products continues to grow at an incredible rate in response to creative ideas for new applications, environmental concerns that propel the industry in new directions, fiscal factors that demand affordable options, and new equipment and technology that brings it all together.
The market for wall coverings, signage, flags, clothing, upholstery, and even flooring materials is expanding rapidly, though the greatest growth seems to be in the area of soft signage. The allure of this application may be due to the attributes of textile that make it a great substitute to vinyl signs. It is more lightweight, flexible, and compact than vinyl for handling, storage, and shipping, plus it can be draped in a variety of creative shapes to produce attractive retail and trade show displays. Additionally, the opportunity to combine UV printing with low cost fabric options opens up the arena of short-term soft signage.
Many digital fabric printing applications were not considered in the past because of the cost and design of the digital textile work flow, but this is no longer an obstacle today. The properties of soft signage that make it easier to create, install, and remove make it the ideal short-term application for trade-show exhibitors. Actually, exhibitors have gone beyond textile graphic signage, using fabric to design rooms and pathways with huge and colourful digitally-printed branding messages.
Considering that fabrics offer better value than printing on rigid substrates, it is inevitable that textile will play a bigger role in the graphics industry in years to come. The cost of textile that you print on has been decreasing, and while it is still expensive, it is no longer a doubling factor.
There is growing interest in fabric soft signage and graphic POP displays in retail, sports, museum, restaurant, and corporate events, even as it moves towards non-conventional industries. Businesses are looking to fabric to create working spaces that are alluring to younger workers seeking a more stimulating work environment. Hospitals and medical facilities are designing wall coverings to create a less sterile and more healing atmosphere for their patients. Even colleges and sports stadiums are contributing another growing market for fabric structures and soft signage.
Generally, those who have tried fabric and loved the results are experimenting with new applications, leading to rapid growth of the market. While the primary market comprises retailers and corporations, architectural and design firms are also getting into the industry, by extending their offerings to corporate interiors and museums.
As long as the market for fabric printing continues to grow, digital textile printing will continue to be a worthwhile business investment!