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Exclusive Insights Into The Biggest Breakthroughs For The Digital Textile Market

Kicking off this year's Digital Textile Printing US is Dr. Paul Ewing, Associate Consultant for Smithers Pira. Dr. Ewing's presentation, Market Update, will provide a future outlook and five year forecast for the digital textile printing market and current outlook for digital textile printing by substrate, print technology, end-use and geographic region.

In addition to Smithers Pira, Dr. Paul Ewing is managing partner of Ewing Innovation LLP. Dr. Ewing has 15 years of inkjet industry experience in VP & Director level roles with top tier inkjet materials companies: FUJIFILM, Avecia & Zeneca.

Ahead of his presentation, Dr. Ewing shared his perspective on the rapid growth and biggest breakthroughs for the digital textile market and what he is looking most forward to at this year's Digital Textile Printing conference.


Q: Smithers Pira continues to forecast significant growth for digital textile Printing– what are the key variables on seeing this growth achieved?

A: There are a few underlying trends that will drive the growth of the market.  The way the clothing retail environment is changing with the increasing frequency of design change, the rise of e-commerce, and the focus on sustainable means of production are among the favourable pull factors for digital print. 

In terms of the digital print technology itself, it is becoming more robust and accepted in the market. The increasing availability of reliable, high speed digital printers – underpinned by developments in printhead and ink technologies - will be important in driving the future growth of the market.

Q: How does the US market compare with what you are seeing in Europe and Asia?           

A: In terms of production output, the US digital textile print market overall is smaller than Europe and Asia: this is most pronounced in the production of digitally printed fabric for clothing.  In Direct to Garment printing – eg of T-shirts – the US is relatively strong.  The US share of other digital textile markets (eg household, displays and technical textile segments), is lower than Europe and Asia, but not to the same extent as clothing.   

On the technology supply side, US based companies are becoming quite active in the market.  There have been recent significant acquisitions by large US based OEMs (EFI and Dover) of some pioneering European inkjet OEM textile businesses.  And there have been interesting recent developments in the Direct to Garment area, with the relationship between Amazon and Kornit.

Q: The technology landscape continues to evolve at pace, what have been the biggest breakthroughs?

A: The migration of inkjet technology from being a slow, print technology suitable for sampling and specialised printing to a genuine production technology has been critical.  This has involved the improvement of many independent component technologies – including printheads, ink supply systems, ink chemistries, pretreatments etc - as well as the integration capabilities to make genuine production ready systems.

Q: Digital has revolutionized the ceramics market in a very short period of time, are there any ‘lessons learnt’ from that market that the textiles industry can apply?

A: There are several aspects: the ceramics market showed the speed at which a market can adopt a new production technology once the technical & economic viability of the new technology was validated.  It also provides food for thought as an unusual example of a market where normal inkjet print consumables  “razor blade” business model” is significantly challenged.

Q: What are you most looking forward to about the conference?

A: I'm looking forward to hearing about new developments – both on the technology side, but also from the users of the technology; and meeting old & new colleagues.

Presentations following Dr. Ewing's Market Update during the Drivers for Digital Textiles session include:

  • Drivers for Digital Textile Printing: Sustainability from SGIA
  • Current Trends in Digital Textiles-- Views from the Market presented by FESPA
  • Pacific Coast Fabrics presentation on What You Need to Know About Digital Fabrics and Why