Kornit Digital Acquires Voxel8
Digital 3D print technology expands growing portfolio of textile applications
Kornit Digital recently announced the acquisition of Somerville, MA-based Voxel8, a technology company specializing in 3D additive printing on textiles and footwear products. This news comes on the heels of Kornit’s Atlas Max launch earlier this year, which included the capability of printing 3D raised graphics that simulate embroidery, high density prints, and vinyl heat transfers. Expanding beyond traditional digital direct-to-garment (DTG) and direct-to-fabric (DTF) appears to be an area of focus for Kornit Digital’s growing portfolio of applications.
Voxel8 was founded in 2014 by a group of scientists and engineers from Harvard University. Technologies developed by the team include the ability to digitally fabricate customized material and graphic properties using advanced digital printing. On-the-fly formulations of high-performance elastomers allow for control of material properties and full color graphics.
Activelab Digital Fabrication System, a printing device developed by Voxel8, is described as a multi-material digital manufacturing system for product development, wear testing, and limited production runs of high-performance athletic footwear uppers and sporting goods. Voxel8’s main focus, up to this point, has been working with footwear brands in the product development and sampling stages. Their technology allows prototypes to be made on-demand, allowing for greater speed-to-market product testing and limited consumer reviews.
Voxel8 Activelab Digital Fabrication System
“Voxel8’s innovative technologies and talent will help us accelerate the execution of our 4.0 strategy to digitize sustainable, on-demand textile production,” said Ronen Samuel, Kornit Digital’s CEO. “With this advanced and proven 3D technology, we will disrupt the business of fashion, empowering completely new creative decorative concepts and never-before-seen functional textile applications, while exploring new lucrative opportunities in the functional apparel and footwear markets.”
While it’s not exactly clear if Kornit Digital will implement this technology into its current line of DTG and DTF devices, what is clear is this acquisition opens the door to numerous additional market segments and verticals.
“By integrating Voxel8’s technology into Kornit’s product roadmap, we will be able to transform numerous market segments and verticals, accelerating our collective visions and technology advancements,” said Kobi Mann, Kornit Digital’s CTO. “Voxel8 offers direct 3D print-on-part capabilities, advanced design software that can be easily integrated with any production floor software workflow, and versatile chemistry, enabling on-the-fly formulation of high-performance elastomers to change the material properties of the resulting printed structures by multiple orders of magnitude. This means reflective, high-density silicone and metallics as well as compression elements for sports and therapeutics; protection elements like cushioning and impact resistance; and functionality applications like anti-slip, waterproofing, and other qualities combining form and function that are key to Kornit’s vision of digitizing production in every conceivable manner.”
The world of fashion encapsulates many different segments, including decorated apparel (e.g., t-shirts, hoodies, and hats), footwear, accessories, and bags. Kornit has excelled in the high-end industrial DTG and textile markets with digital printing technologies that produce retail quality, on-demand prints at high production speeds. Voxel8’s Activelab Digital Fabrication System appears to be a low-volume, prototype producing device that has been primarily used for product development sampling of footwear uppers. In my opinion, it isn’t clear how this acquisition will add value to the current Kornit lineup of on-demand high-volume production devices. However, Kornit has proven to be an innovative leader within the DTG and textile markets, and we look forward to seeing how they utilize this technology to expand their applications and product offerings.
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