Keypoint Intelligence Publishes Worldwide Direct-to-Garment Forecast for 2021-2026

Automation, new applications, and faster speeds lead the list of trends



Johnny Shell


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Keypoint Intelligence recently released its annual Worldwide DTG Forecast: 2021-2026, which includes printing devices exclusive to direct-to-garment (DTG) printing. The forecast covers the full range of commercial entry-level through industrial high-volume segments and includes toner transfer printers. Also, for the first time, we’ve included placement figures for direct-to-film transfer devices. Market research and analysis of appropriate technologies available from OEMs and distributors, as well as other sources, provide additional cross-checks to validate and ensure that the market size and projections are consistent with existing statistics. The metrics that are tracked in the forecast include unit placements, sales revenue, print volume, ink volume, and retail value from among four main geographic regions: Asia Pacific, EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa), NA (North America), and SLA (South/Latin America). The Compound Annual Growth Rates (CAGRs) are calculated over five years (2021-2026) for the metrics reported.


Due to the range of DTG products in the marketplace, devices fall into one of four categories:

  1. Commercial Entry-Level: Up to 40 light shirts and/or 20 dark shirts per hour, typically priced under $25,000 USD (also includes EP Toner printers)
  2. Commercial: 41-80 light shirts and/or 21-30 dark shirts per hour, typically priced under $60,000 USD
  3. Industrial: 81-200 light shirts and/or 31-80 dark shirts per hour, typically priced between $60,000-$150,000 USD
  4. Industrial High-Volume: >200 light shirts and/or >80 dark shirts per hour, typically priced above $150,000 USD


At the time of data gathering and forecasting, the world had emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic, but economic disruption remains as the global economy struggles to restart. Global supply chain and shipping disruptions continue to impact supplies of consumables, parts, and garments. The global e-commerce market is projected to reach $5.55 trillion USD in 2022, achieving a 21% share of all retail purchases. That growth is expected to continue, reaching a 24.5% share by 2025.


Faster print speeds are closing the gap between commercial and industrial mid-level printers and faster industrial high-level DTG printers dismiss the notion that “digital is too slow” as these new systems can print 300+ garments per hour. We’ve also seen industrial high-level polyester DTG printers come to market. Workflow automation continues to be a focal point and solutions are available from both OEMs and third-party providers clouding the competitive landscape.


Print Volume has exceeded pre-pandemic levels by nearly 12.5% showing a CAGR of 16.8% through 2026. Industrial-printed garments are forecasted to have a healthy CAGR of 20.6% through 2026, accounting for the largest percentage of total prints, while representing the least amount of device placements. The value of inkjet DTG garments is projected to reach nearly $20 billion USD by 2026.


Source: Keypoint Intelligence Worldwide DTG Forecast: 2021-2026


Global supply chain and labor shortages are still looming and disruptive as shortages or late shipments of consumables, parts, and garments continue impacting PSPs. With the global economy stagnant for the entire pandemic, a full return to supply chain stability is difficult to predict, but Keypoint doesn’t expect to see a full return to pre-pandemic modes until late 2023 or early 2024.


New DTG devices are blurring the lines between commercial and industrial mid segments and new inline digital inkjet Industrial High-Level devices can now achieve 300+ prints per hour. As mentioned previously, direct-to-film placement data is included in the 2021-2026 DTG forecast which is impacting placements of other technology segments. In 2021, commercial entry level-toner placements saw a -7.2% decline vs. 2020 and Keypoint Intelligence projects a CAGR of 13.9% for direct-to-film through 2026.


Keypoint Intelligence Opinion

It is clear from the data included in our forecast that volumes are shifting to digital printing technology in the apparel industry. New dedicated printers for polyester, faster printing speeds, and the closing gap between commercial and industrial mid-level devices clearly indicate a shift in decorating technology. Analog printing will still dominate print volumes for the foreseeable future, but the day is coming that digital will be the dominant technology for decorated apparel.


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