The proposal would see the onshoring and ‘nearshoring’ of a significant proportion of the printed textiles market in compact factories, connected by Kornit to retailers’ shopfaces.
By having access to rapid, local, printing on demand, retailers would be able to eliminate traditional wastages of screen printing, such as over- or under-ordering, and their consequences, like having to mark stock down or losing out on customer business.
By having local printhouses take on the work, retailers could similarly cut out long wait times on stock and replenish supplies throughout the season.
Speaking at the company’s London Kornit Fashion Week yesterday (17 May), Ronen Samuel, Kornit’s CEO, stressed that fashion has to change its attitude to waste - and that companies that don’t change will soon be left behind.
“We are not bonded to quantities anymore,” he said, suggesting that eliminating minimum order requirements for smaller jobs by moving from screen to digital printing would significantly help fashion’s wastage problem.
Samuel cited figures that 21 million tons of textiles and 28 trillion litres of water are wasted annually, just on excess stock.
He said: “This is how much this industry is throwing away every year only on excess capacity. And we can do it differently.”
Samuel also targeted the fashion industry’s traditionally slow supply chain, which typically takes 18 months from design to market.
By having local printers fulfil orders on-demand, the industry would be able to cut out air-freight emissions, slash wait times from months to days, and never be caught with too little or too much stock.
Kornit said its solution here is to have a drop-shipping network, called ‘Kornit X’, bridge the gaps between printers and retailers, which runs directly from a plugin in the retailer website to the physical direct-to-garment (DTG) printer.
Through this decentralised network of local printshops, a customer could theoretically order a customised garment from anywhere in the world, and have it printed and delivered the next day.
Markdowns of stock have been estimated to cost retailers in the US around $300bn (£240bn) annually. Lost demand - when products are out-of-stock - adds up to $1trn globally.
Kornit’s president for EMEA, Chris Govier, added that Kornit’s next generation of printers, like the Apollo - set for release in mid-2023 - will arm digital garment and fabric printers to compete with screen printers on speed.
He said: “We’re at the tip of the iceberg right now with our technology and our productivity. [The Apollo] will fundamentally change on-demand production.”
He added that the Apollo will be able to print at 400 units per hour, up from Kornit’s current average of 120, or maximum speed of around 180.
The Apollo will be fully automated from end-to-end, with automated pallet loading and automatic application of fixer, unloading, and drying.