Data from a new report, The Future of Digital Textile Printing to 2023, shows that in 2018 global value in this market will reach €2.83bn, equating to 2.17 billion square metres of fabrics printed on inkjet machinery.
The expected market growth to €4.9bn in 2023 is representative of a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.6%. Smithers Pira said this contrasts to a rate of 16% for the five years 2013-2017 “but is symptomatic of any nascent, high-growth markets unable to sustain early growth from a low base indefinitely”.
The study added that textiles work “presents a compelling opportunity” for inkjet technology developers and ink suppliers as growth in non-textiles printed media is a marginal 0.8% CAGR by value and is declining marginally by output volume according to another Smithers Pira study, The Future of Global Printing to 2022.
While textiles printing is a mature global market, Smithers Pira said digital textiles printing still forms less than 5% of this industry, “leaving significant market share that can be targeted”.
The organisation added, however, that inkjet printing remains more expensive than conventional print technologies except for short production volumes.
“Hence the goals for the next five years are to identify new segments where the design advantages of digital printers can justify the expense, [and] improve the cost dynamics of inkjet on textiles to incrementally boost market share in product applications where it is already in use,” the study said.
The organisation added advantages of using inkjet for textiles printing include ease of customisation, reduced cost for short production runs and much faster turnarounds.
It said clothing, including swimwear, sportswear and haute couture garments, is the largest application sector for inkjet printing. Accounting for three quarters of value in the market in 2018 at €2.13bn, it is expected to maintain this position through to 2023.
But Smithers Pira also said expansion in digital textiles printing for home decor products will be particularly strong and that further expansion is also forecast in soft signage, particularly for outdoor applications as more UV-resistant inksets become available for work such as flags and banners.
As a reaction to the continued market growth, established printer and software manufacturers are increasing their offerings for the textiles market, and the sector is expected to be a hot topic at Fespa, which will take place in Munich, Germany later this week.
Last month HP made its first moves into the market by launching two machines in its new Stitch S series of dye-sublimation printers, with a third on the way for Fespa.
Software developer SAI, which will show its Flexi 19 product for the first time in Europe at Fespa, has enhanced the platform’s compatibility for textiles printing, to make life easier for new entrants to the market.
“Textile is probably the biggest growing part of our industry. The thing with textile and dye-sublimation printing is that it is a very daunting type of printing to get into – there are a lot of different pieces to the puzzle, more so than your average sign shop printer,” said SAI director of worldwide marketing Michelle Johnson.
“You need the right printer, the right ink, the right transfer paper, the right materials, heat presses and software – there are so many more aspects to get into that field. But [with Flexi] a customer who is already running a normal everyday sign shop can still use the same software to do their dye-sublimation and textile printing.
“There’s some familiarity in there already so it’s one piece of the puzzle that they don’t have to refigure out.”
Elsewhere, wide-format distributor CMYUK is currently constructing a new digital textiles development facility after taking on its first digital textiles division manager at the start of 2019.
The company said digital textiles printing offers established print companies a major opportunity to add a profitable new arm to their business.
Debbie McKeegan, chief executive of expert advisory practice Texintel, said growth in the sector has been “evident for quite some time to anyone deeply involved within the trade”.
“[This has encouraged] a plethora of small independent print houses to develop and focus on this sector, alongside the serious mainstream established textile printers that have already started to convert their plants from rotary screen printing to digital,” she said.
“Just as digital disruption within the events and signage industry digitised the graphics workspace, to provide an efficient, speedy and sustainable solution for manufacturing, we are now about to witness the transformation of the printed textile market. The fashion, sportswear and interior decor sectors offer exceptional new business opportunities for the print service provider.”