The textile industry in the age of digital printing. What are the new growth drivers?

The textile printing sector boasts a cultural and technological heritage rooted in many countries of the world such as China, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Turkey, to name a few. A unique sector of its kind, it has succeeded in creating fabrics with extraordinary graphic motifs since ancient times, when carved wooden blocks were used to print fabrics. Today, billions of square metres of fabric are printed globally each year, using an unprecedented mix of technology, with an increasing use of digital technology to support screen and rotary printing.

According to Keypoint Intelligence, global production of printed fabrics reached approximately 37 billion square meters in 2019, growing an average of 3% year-on-year since 2014. Traditional printing techniques, dominated by rotary printing and flat screen printing, continue to dominate in all applications using different types of dyes or pigments for different fabrics. However, the progressive refinement of inkjet printing solutions and the development of increasingly high-performance inks have cleared the way for the use of these technologies even in areas where a high output is required.

In recent years, technological progress in the development of inkjet print heads and inks, combined with the implementation of pre- and post-treatment processes for textiles, have made it possible to create qualitatively and economically competitive products, even in high volumes using most types of fibres and fabrics available on the market. From both a creative and production point of view, digital printing on fabric has radically transformed the basic characteristics of various industries: from haute couture to fast fashion, from sportswear to accessories, and even furnishings. The assertion of these technologies has offered maximum creative freedom of design, and more and more architects and interior designers have chosen to use digitally printed fabrics for their collections.

For some time now, interior design has rediscovered the value of personalised solutions, turning regularly to customised patterns and graphic designs for both private and commercial spaces. The pandemic has further accentuated this trend, especially in the furniture sector. This market is growing strongly globally: it is expected that by 2023 it will exceed 741 billion dollars, approximately 623 billion euros. And according to Fibre2Fashion, in the home textile segment, digital textile printing will increase by 19.44%, reaching 640.01 million square meters.

Taken from Scenarios and Protagonists, 2022 edition