Technology Advancement in the Textile Printing Industry

Technology Advancement in the Textile Printing Industry

Textile is one of the world’s largest profitable industries that has come a long way. It embraces change as an essential factor for growth. Experts predict that the global digital textile printing market will reach up to $2.7 Billion by 2026.

And why not? 

Textile printing is the most versatile printing method in recent times. It blends color and design into textile fabrics in various innovative ways. Manufacturers had been using printing to improve textile aesthetics. A wide variety of fashion apparel, such as custom t-shirts and ready-to-wear garments, are examples. 

The last few decades have seen drastic growth in the textile print sector. Especially the printing machinery, manufacturing procedures, and post-treatments of printed fabrics. The demands of high production rates with reduced procedural complexity were the focus. 

The textile printing industry is experiencing continuous transformation. The print runs are getting smaller, and the demand for customization is growing. 

The Evolution of Textile Printing Technologies

We will look into the history of the textile print industry first. The term’ printing’ came to the industry in the 18th century. It conveyed the act of dyeing on the substrate using predefined designs and patterns. They first used wood blocks for textile printing. 

Later, engraved metallic roller printers were produced in prints for longer runs. Besides, open-mesh silk gauze screens were being used for shorter runs. It was the beginning of the 20th century. Most printing works depended on engraved roll printers. The era of the 1930s saw the use of synthetic pigment systems. 

In the 1950s, a firm called Bayer and Hoechst developed wet-on-wet printing chemistry. At that time, Europe and the U.S. were practicing flatbed-screen printing. Then came the automated moving belts. These belts came with a print screen lifting and moving the squeegee to print.

We now discuss the major technological advancements in the textile printing industry that brought about fresh air in clothing. 

Rotary Screen Print Technology

In the early 1960s, they made printed fabrics on roller print machines for a longer run and low-priced products. Flatbed screen printing machines were ideal for shorter yardage. The shorter runs produced high-priced exclusive designs. 

Engineers put a lot of effort into research to develop a rotary screen printing machine. In 1963 Stork launched its first model, ‘RD I’ at ITMA. 

This proved to be a big revolution in the textile printing industry. Because it brought down the costs for longer print runs. Commercial launches from the leading companies took place afterward because of this. 

It took years for rotary screen print technologies to evolve. The 21st century’s first two decades were glorious years for the rotary printing system in Asia. 

Digital Print Technology

The 21st century started with digital printing machines’ commercial launches, paving the way for cheaper custom t-shirts. So now lets understand how the digital printing work?

The print heads deposit ink droplets onto the textile based on a predetermined pattern from the digital file. It is a non-contact form of printing technology. There’s no need to produce screens, unlike the conventional printing methods.

This evolution keeps upgrading with new OEM launches. The launches offer higher print qualities and speeds. The manufacturers of the printers provide complete packages, including printing inks and heads. 

Lario by MS 2012 launched the high-speed digital printing single-pass machine. This was another paradigm shift in the print industry. This technology works by moving the fabric while print bars are static. The machine kept on improving by various OEMs. The latest entry of EFI Reggiani in 2018 -with model Bolt boasting. 

This was the next-level technology with high production rates and excellent finishing. It needed less maintenance. Also, it offered a longer lifespan than the superior print head. The hybrid printers – inkjet and flat screens too, came as part of the digital advancements. 

Note: Screen printing is still the most popular custom apparel. While digital printing is fast and becoming more popular. For more information, read screen printing vs. digital printing. 

Difference Between Traditional and Digital Textile Printing

Technology Advancement in the Textile Printing Industry

Source: iStock

Traditional Textile Printing

Traditional textile printing can no longer meet the changing needs of the customer. They continue to face challenges. The challenges include: 

  • Higher tendencies for error
  • Greater supervision required
  • More man-power 
  • More time-consumption 
  • High dependency on weather conditions

Digital Textile Printing (e.g., Custom T-Shirts)

Now with digital printing, textile manufacturers can stay competitive and relevant. The Versatility of digital textile printing is improving, and the opportunities are endless. It has revolutionized high fashion apparel, custom design t-shirts, ready-to-wear, sportswear, etc.

Advantages of Digital Over Traditional Textile Printing

There are many advantages of digital textile printing over conventional printing. Some of them are:

  • Digital textile printers can coexist with traditional printers. So, these machines allow an expansion of product offerings. This results in an improvement of products and increases consumers’ demand. 
  • Digital printing remains cost-efficient. It uses less electricity and water. The total cost of ownership to fulfill short-run orders is low. Also, the resource wastage is minimal because it prints the exact required volume.
  • Digital textile printing does not need any screen printing plates. They can be expensive to produce. It allows the fulfillment of short-run orders. It also provides the possibility to print on demand. 
  • With digital textile printing, there is no limit to design creativity. Designers create intricate designs on-demand. Believe it or not, it’s now easy to bring thought to reality!

Some other advantages of the digital print technologies are:

Increased Cost and Time Efficiency 

The advent of new technology was a result of the industrial revolution. Manufacturers created new machines to finish tasks in shorter periods and with a fewer workforce. So, digital technology helped increase production and time efficiency. 

Quality and Reliability

Designers use powerful printers to create quality fashion designs that customers can count on. Be it a custom t-shirt or any of the home accessories. The digital dye-sublimation and direct-to-garment trends have fastened up various necessary processes. Technology has made print designing and alterations as easy as a mouse click.

Fewer Labor

The massive advancement of textile machinery reduced the need to hire skilled labor. Modern computerized methods use advanced processes to get desired results. These methods are much faster than the traditional methods.

The new inventions in the textile print Industry also changed workers’ lives. It became possible due to the wonderful invention that transformed the textile industry. 

The Future of Digital Textile Printing

The future seems bright for digital textile printing. It seems to grow because the manufacturers offer customer solutions with high productivity. 

Industrialists are making considerable investments in the garment and textile industry. The interest is rising due to its value-addition in improving consumer lifestyle. 

The improved quality, cost cuttings, and increased profitability are paving the way to a better, shinier future一where sky will be the limit!

Conclusion

Great technological advancements in the ever-developing textile print industry are an inevitable change. These advancements save time and costs in the most efficient ways for management and the workforce. Textile printing is now becoming simpler, more cost-effective, and more popular.

After all, it’s always about the end product when it comes to the textile industry!

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