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Digital Textile Printing 2022 Event Recap

Sustainability, print-on-demand, and how to work with designers were hot topics of the two-day conference.

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The seventh annual Digital Textile Printing conference was co-sponsored by Printing United Alliance and AATCC in Durham, North Carolina, December 7-8. The event included an educational program led by industry experts, as well as networking receptions, lunches, and an exhibitor space to explore new technology and products. “It’s an interesting opportunity to network with people who are doing the same thing as you,” said Dee Dee Davis of Décor Print.

Reducing waste was the unspoken theme of the two-day conference, as digital and on-demand printing provides a greener solution to the global textile pollution issue. “Sustainability is on everyone’s minds,” said Kathryn Sanders of Western Sensibility. “We all want to be better. So, what can we do as an industry?”

If you missed the event, read below for standout tips from the expert speakers.

Business Growth – Victor Pena – OmniPrint International

  • Baby boomers are leaving the industry and their kids don’t want to take over the business. Consider what this means for you.
  • Focus on your mission statement, core set of values, and an attractive opportunity to make money when hiring and retaining employees.
  • Print-on-demand is the future: sell it first, then print, then ship.
  • More acquisitions will be happening in 2023. Can you acquire technology and experience to grow your brand?

Textile Industry Update: 2022 and Beyond – Johnny Shell, Keypoint Intelligence 

  • The global textile and garment industry is currently a $3000-trillion market.
  • Textiles are the world’s second-largest polluter behind energy.
  • Forty percent of US apparel products are imported from China, 85 percent of clothing ends up in a landfill or incinerator, and 93 billion cubic meters of water are used annually.
  • The average consumer out of eight billion people globally keeps their clothing for half as long than they did 20 years ago.
  • On-demand manufacturing and developing a product with the end of life in mind are solutions. There’s an environmental benefit with digital printing.
  • Buy multiple machines for DTG pod manufacturing. Ten DTG machines can print 420 to 480 pieces per hour vs one (65 to 75 pieces).
  • The global ecommerce market will reach $5.5 trillion by the end of this year.
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The Décor Print – Dee Dee Davis, Décor Print
Direct to fabric with reactive dyes was Davis’ first entry point to digital textile printing in 2013.
The boutique artisanal firm works with microbrands wanting to do their own home décor lines. With the move to wallcoverings, they landed more commercial clients. “I like having small machines because it’s easier to train people,” said Davis. Currently they have 9 printers, and 4 to 5 staff members and interns throughout the year through a co-op program. “When working with designers, designers want their wallpaper and fabric to match, which is hard because you’re using different technology,” she said. “There’s a lot of color matching, trial and error.” The fabric is sent to the customer for approval before actual yarded is printed. Décor Print will then send small samples to designers so they can have them in their showrooms. When hiring, she looks for a jack of all trades. “Graphic designers need to be educated from the ground up on textiles or even run a computer with a RIP, so much education and training is necessary,” said Davis. “Retention is important.”

On Demand Direct Print – Steven Amitai, Greentex America 

  • Design, develop, sell, and make is the sustainability solution. 
  • Offshore is always going to be cheaper, but we need to provide value, efficiency, and customization locally 
  • DTF will take over single platen DTG. DTF can print on any fiber. There’s a big growth area in garment decoration and novelties.

Digital Textile Printing as an Artistic Medium – Kathryn Sanders, Western Sensibility
Creatives, artists, and designers don’t know who PSPs are. How does this change? Digital textile printing can be the solution and we get to show them that. It’s challenging for artists to understand how their designs can be turned into functional art.

Think of yourself as more than a PSP – a creative collaborator. Designers need you as their technical muse who can help bring their concepts to life. They need someone to trust with their art. Something’s missing. They’re going overseas because they don’t know PSPs exist here in the states. We’re not targeting designers. It’s an exciting opportunity.

Empowering the Print Community to Better Understand the Interior Design Industry
Adrienne Palmer, Big Picture magazine, moderated a panel with Kathryn Sanders and Michael Sanders of Western Sensibility and Alyssa McNamara of Spoonflower based on the four-part webinar series “Interior Décor and Textiles Webinar Series, Bridging the Gap Between Commercial Peel-and-Stick Wall Graphics & Professional Home Décor.” Watch the on-demand episodes here.

Pro Tips:
If you’re not on social media with your business today, you’re missing the boat. The new consumer generation lives and breathes social media. Virtually represent the shirt or fabric on social media, then when the orders come in, you can on-demand manufacture it. – Johnny Shell, Keypoint Intelligence 

Pantone guides are just that: guides. – Jim Raffel, ColorCasters 

The cost of automation is dropping. – Frank Henderson, Henderson Sewing 

Consider LED lighting. It greatly reduces energy consumption, there’s a long service life, and no consumables. – James Summers, JUST Normlicht

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Adrienne Palmer joined Big Picture magazine in 2012 after graduating from Ohio University’s Scripps School of Journalism with a BA in magazine journalism. During her time with Big Picture, she has held the roles of assistant editor, associate editor, and managing editor, and is now serving as editor-in-chief. If she isn’t traveling, she’s planning her next trip.

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