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What You Missed at Smither’s Digital Textile Printing US 2022 Conference

Two-day event focused on commercializing digital print for the textile industry.

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TRAILBLAZERS ACROSS THE digital print and textiles markets gathered in Santa Monica, California, June 9-10 at the 2022 Smither’s Digital Textile Printing US conference to discuss how business models, technology, and collaboration can accelerate the commercial adoption of digital print for textiles. “This event brings together luxury fashion brands, retailers, textile printers, equipment suppliers, and material suppliers to discuss the latest trends and advancements in the growing digital textile industry,” according to Smithers.

Key Takeaways:
“We will never go back to what we were before the pandemic. Lifestyles are changing and recalibrating values,” said Nora Kühner, independent fashion and design consultant.

“Sustainability is productivity with digital textile printing,” said Eric P. Beyeler, global marketing manager at DuPont Artistri Digital Inks.

“Protect your supply chain from the next supply chain disruption (Ukraine Russian engagement, US China trade war) by establishing a supply chain working group,” said Dr. Eugene Laney Jr., president and CEO of American Association of Exporters and Importers.

On-demand content is available for purchase through August 1, 2022. Click here for more information.

Here are highlights from sessions that occurred during the two-day event that closed out Digital Print Week 2022.

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Trends, Style, and Innovation: Designs That are Making an Impact Now and How We Can Use Digital Textile Printing to Innovate
Kathryn Sanders, Founder and CEO, Western Sensibility, and Big Picture columnist

Trend awareness and forecasting allows PSPs to stay relevant. In Sanders’ session, she proved the importance of staying abreast of what’s inspiring and motivating consumers. At Western Sensibility, Sanders prints what she calls “functional art,” including digitally printed throw pillows, drapery, and textile yardage for upholstery. “Your statement piece no longer has to be the art on the wall,” she said. “Let the fabric speak to the trend.”

2022 Trend Breakdown:

  • Texture: Digital printing allows PSPs to capture and manipulate texture in new and unexpected ways.
  • Folk Art: Bold lines, intricate details, and use of primary colors.
  • Earth tones: The serene canvas can be layered and accessorized; currently tracking with Millennials.
  • Y2K: A mix of nostalgia and camp captivating Gen Z; a trend that doesn’t take itself too seriously

Remember, while trends are important, they will come and go, but there’s longevity with style. How can you bring the two together? “Color blocking was trending, but now print clashing is relevant and taking up space. Prints on prints, color on color … so why couldn’t scale layering be next?” asked Sanders. She suggested printing photographic elements that are layered, dissected, and manipulated to create something that couldn’t be produced with rotary screen printing.

There’s still a huge gap between PSP and designer, so attracting artists to the digital print space can be difficult. Many can’t find what they’re looking for in the US, so they go to the UK. “Show designers samples of different types of products and textures and bring them in your space,” said Sanders. “They want to be part of the R&D process.”

“With digital print, we can make something we’ve never seen before,” said Sanders. “It allows us to get really niche, and there’s less limitation because there isn’t a minimum order quantity (MOQ). The impact we get to make by adopting this technology is so incredible and why I’m in the industry.”

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Sustainability Trends in Product Development
Jasmine B. Cox, director of Textile Technology Programs and Business Innovation, Gaston College
The fashion and textile markets are two of the most polluting industries in the world.

Environmental Impact of Textiles:

  • Extreme Water Usage
  • Water pollution caused by chemical waste and more
  • Improper disposal of textile/plastic waste
  • Post-consumer waste in landfills
  • Extreme energy usage
  • Non-biodegradable materials and fast- fashion

When working with textile manufacturers and vendors, consider these sustainable trends:

  • Mechanically recycled material
  • Mechanically recycled plastics
  • Biodegradable polymers
  • Regenerated cellulose
  • Water and energy reduction during dyeing and finishing

Kornit’s Quest for On-Demand, Sustainable Home Décor and Apparel
Tomer Gallimidi, director of Product Management at Kornit Digital and Limor Prigan, product marketing director, Kornit Digital

“The global home textile market is one of the most profitable business segments in the global textile industry,” said Gallimidi. “People want to express themselves and feel casual and comfortable in their home.” With digital textile printing there are endless design options, no MOQs, short delivery time, and the prints can be produced locally.

“Mass production is ineffective,” said Prigan. “Is there a better way to make clothes?”
Kornit’s answer: On-demand, unlimited, proximity production for home décor and apparel.

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Technical Advancements in Fabrics
Moderator:
Adrienne Palmer, Editor-in-Chief, Big Picture magazine
Panelists: Mary Ann Ankeny, VP, Product Development, and Implementation Operations,
Cotton Incorporated and Alyssa McNamara, R&D Engineer II, PIT Textiles & Wallpaper, Spoonflower

AP: The global digital textile printing market is segmented by printing method (roll-to-roll printing, direct to garment printing), type (sublimation, pigment, reactive), application (garment and apparel, home decor, display and signage), substrate (cotton, silk, polyester), and then geography. Out of cotton, silk, and polyester, which fabric is best for roll-to-roll, DTG?

AM: More than the fiber type, it’s the quality of the fabric from the vendor that allows you to excel in roll-to roll.

MAA: You need to understand the variety of fabrics you’re going to be printing in the beginning of your process, so you have the right equipment. If your fabric is not well prepared, you’re going to have printing problems down the line. It’s a culmination of fabric preparation, correct machine choice, and having that great relationship with your ink supplier to make sure you have the right product when you need it.

AP: Which fabric is best for sublimation, reactive, or pigment inks?

AM: Sublimation that works on polyester, reactive ink work on naturals, and pigment is the least commonly used. It’s a unicorn in the space.

MAA: We get much richer color when printing with reactive inks, but you have a lot more inputs that go into that reactive print so you have to steam it and wash it in addition to pretreating it. I look forward to improvements. Pigment printing is a more sustainable option so if we can work on continuing to expand the color gamut in that area then it’s going to be very helpful for people to transition to that technology.

AP: Which fabric is best for apparel, home decor, soft signage?

AM: Polyester is the fabric for home furnishings right now, that’s not to say it’s mandatory, but with polyester you tend to have a stronger abrasion resistance so it can be a more durable fabric for upholstery and home décor. We’re seeing a continued increase in naturals for apparel from a comfort perspective. A lot of people lean toward cotton in their wardrobes for apparel and because signage is more temporary people lean toward polyester because it’s a less expensive fiber type.

MAA: Cotton is biodegradable and best for those temporary applications. Polyester is going to be around forever unless you chemically recycle it, which is very expensive.

PHOTO GALLERY (11 IMAGES)

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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SPONSORED VIDEO

Interior Décor and Textile Printing: What Equipment Do You Need?

The First Installment of the new Interior Décor and Textiles Webinar Series, Bridging the Gap Between Commercial Peel-and-Stick Wall Graphics & Professional Home Décor, focuses on the technology used for these applications. Our expert panel of speakers cover topics such as what equipment to purchase, what to look for when purchasing, and the various applications you can offer with the equipment you currently have. Watch the first episode, sponsored by TVF, above.

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