Digital Textile and DTG Trends: A Year-End Review
Diving into the best of 2022
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As another year comes to an end, I took the opportunity to reflect on some of the digital textile and direct-to-garment (DTG) trends that emerged in 2022. However, it’s difficult to overlook the hardships of global inflation, supply chain disruption, and labor shortages that affected us getting back to normal. For me, while these challenges are difficult to deal with, they weren’t that surprising after a two-year shutdown. If your car sat in your driveway for two years and you tried to start it, you wouldn’t expect it to immediately start and purr like a kitten. There would be some difficulty, backfiring, and sputtering until the engine started and warmed up…much like what we are experiencing now. But amid the uncertainty, there were several bright notes in 2022!
We saw the return of in-person trade shows and conferences—let’s be honest, there’s nothing like an in-person event. Nothing compares to that in-depth conversation with an industry colleague or seeing new technologies and applications in person. The energy level at the events I attended were, without a doubt, the highest I’ve ever seen in the 35+ years I’ve been attending them. Attendees across all events were enthusiastic and had a positive outlook about the future of the industry. They were also opening their pocketbooks to buy. Announcements for new products in 2022 were above 2021 and there were several worth noting.
New in 2022
Here’s just a sampling of some of the cool new stuff the garment and textiles space saw this year:
Brother International Corporation released the GTX600 in January 2022. The new printer is designed for industrial-level production and includes Brother’s newest fifth generation printheads, a bulk ink system, an intelligent platen height adjustment system, a built-in humidifier, and an industrial maintenance station that are designed to minimize operator training.
- Aeoon Technologies launched its MAIKURO printer, which is a two-platen direct-to-garment (DTG) printer that can print up to 65 garments per hour. The printer uses eight Ricoh Gen5 printheads that jet images at 600 dpi.
- DTG Digital (a subsidiary of Pigment Inc.) developed its new Q2 DTG printer that is configured for hybrid capability to print direct onto a finished garment as well as direct-to-film (DTF) transfers on a single platform.
- The newest DTG printers are also delivering faster print speeds, higher print accuracy, and are incorporating advanced technologies, all with a smaller footprint and price tag that is closing the gap between commercial and industrial printers. Many DTG OEMs are also promoting that their DTG printer can also be used for direct-to-fabric (DTF) while others are developing a dedicated DTF system.
- Newer high-speed industrial DTG systems, most notably The M&R Companies’ introduction of the Polaris, include features like pre-treatment, flash curing, heat presses, and (on most) separate print engines for white and CMYK.
The DL2200 from Brother uses two or four GTX600 DTG printers and can print 100 or 180 shirts per hour, respectively. One aspect of Brother’s system is that there are multiple DTG printers, so there is printer redundancy that keeps production moving should a printer go down. Brother is also promoting the POD concept that also uses multiple DTG printers, a pretreat unit, and heat press or conveyor dryer.
|POD Manufacturing Concept from Brother. Source: Brother International.|
In the digital textile space, the most notable trends are the continued movement toward sustainability as the textile industry experiences accelerated growth and digitalization. Textile producers have reinvigorated and re-energized themselves to bring about change to one of the most polluting industries on the planet. They are making efforts to shift manufacturing toward digital technology and are near-shoring or even on-shoring manufacturing, capitalizing on the capabilities of on-demand digital printing.
Another trend in the digital textile space is the continued shift to pigment inks in the fashion and décor industry due to pigment’s energy and resource efficiencies. This year, EFI Reggiani launched the ecoTERRA, its new all-in-one solution for water-based pigment printing that requires no ancillary equipment for pre- and post-treatment. Kornit also launched the Presto MAX, which includes in-line pretreatment. These technologies dramatically cut energy and water consumption in the overall process for a more sustainable direct-to-fabric printing experience.
|EFI Reggiani ecoTERRA, an All-in-One Solution for Water-Based Pigment.|
Keypoint Intelligence Opinion
The future looks very bright for the digital textile and DTG spaces. Up to 30% of manufactured apparel does not sell at full retail price, and we are well past the time for these markets to tighten their manufacturing methods, become more sustainable, and reap the benefits that digital printing brings to their table. But now these markets are experiencing great momentum and growth that is being fueled by consumer demand for sustainable manufacturing practices and desire for customized, on-demand products. Here’s to a great 2023!
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