Sun, Nov

Talking textiles

Where you at the Fabric Printing Now conference last month, or planning to go to upcoming Itma or Heimtextil textile shows? If not, are you missing out?

When did you last hear about tie dying fabrics and multiplex laser surface enhancement (MLSE) at the same conference? How on earth can they be connected? It was Fabric Printing Now organised by the Fespa UK Association that was the platform for these and many other textile orientated topics. If you did not attend, and you are a member of the association, you will soon be able to access all the presentations at www.fespauk.com. But it’s worth flagging up the main messages that came from the conference.

Need it be repeated that textile print is a hot topic when it comes to new business opportunities for PSPs? That’s a rhetorical question - the sector is awash with reports and commentary on market shape, size and scope, and there’s plenty of focus on the technological developments making access easier. Indeed, respondents to the Image Reports annual Widthwise Survey this year put textiles high on the list of new markets/services they expect to move into over the next two years (download the report at: http://www.imagereportsmag.co.uk/research/widthwise-2015-survey).

At Fabric Printing Now, Marabu said is sees the worldwide printing output as more than 30 billion square metres per year, which is equivalent to approximately half a billion litres of ink.

Kornit viewed the size from a different perspective - £100 billion in retail sales in printed textiles, apparel, and home, with £6.5 billion as digitally printed. In total it reckoned there are seven billion customers. Whichever way you cut it this is an enormous market.

“I have been printing garments for five years and I know all I need to know!” was the comment from one PSP before the event according to Fespa UK board member Peter Kiddell, who called this “tragic but representative of certain parts of the garment industry”. Presenters and delegates had a different perspective.

Paul Noble of Bannerbox, giving the talk ‘Behind the Studio Door: How to Get the Best From Your Digital Print Facility’ was clear that it is essential to avoid the race to the bottom, to have a unique selling point, to get really good at what you do, to look at your local market and go into areas that interest you – in his case that’s cycling and supplying the sport (events, shops etc) with printed textile display materials.

Debbie McKeegan owner of Digetex (see Talking Point) in her talk ‘A Commercial Designer’s Journey Through Digital’ emphasised the need for the merger of innovative design and rapid response times, and the need for creative and printers to work together to stimulate the market. She herself gets into the colleges and offers in-house work experience to students and graduates.

And education continues to be a necessary component within the print community itself. Mitesh Patel of Premier Textiles kicked off the event with an explanation of the vast range of textile substrates now available to PSPs. As the name of his talk explained, ‘Polyester is Not the Only Fabric’.

The University of Leeds, represented by Trevor Lambourne, showed where the industry could progress with electrically conductive inks with the required resistivity that can be laundered and dry cleaned many times through the life of a garment.

Both he, and Dr Kate Wells of the University of Derby, further emphasised the importance of building links between academia and industry. Kate showed how effects and materials finishes created by hand would work with developing digital techniques.

Graham Downhill from the Textile Centre of Excellence looked at areas of science that could completely alter the surface characteristics of fibres without the use of chemicals - for example, how absorbent fabrics could be made waterproof.

Straight polyester is just one of the 400+ printable fabrics available within Premier Textiles range for instance, which is constantly growing to meet the needs of what is a rapidly developing sector. Shorter runs and customisation in particular are creating new opportunities, with a huge growth in online services where the general public and designers can create one offs impacting the sector. Mark Smith of Adelco spoke of a client who had built a business of over a billion dollars in four years by targeting this market.

And in his talk Stewart Bell of MTEX UK, said he’s seeing a rapid increase in the middle market where PSPs want turnkey solutions and the technical support so necessary to succeed in providing digitally printed textiles.


At a glance

Itma 2015

Where: Fiera Milano Rho, Milan, Italy.

When: 12 – 19 November, 2015

Times: 10am – 7pm, 12 – 18 November, 10am – 4pm, 19 November


Where: Messe Frankfurt, Frankfurt, Germany.

When: 12 – 15 January, 2016

Times: 9am – 6pm, 12 – 14 January, 9am – 5pm, 15 January

If you’re seriously considering textile print then you have two major events taking place in the next few weeks – Itma 2015 in Milan and Heimtextil in Germany. Both have a reputation for delivering in-depth and wide-ranging insights on trends and developments across the various fabric print marketplaces. Both also have detailed websites so here’s just a heads-up on what you can expect at each. As Itma’s up first, well start with that.

Held every four years - at different venues across Europe - Itma is owned by Cematex, the European textile machinery manufacturers association. Alongside the event, which has been going since 1951, will be theWorld Textile Summit, helping it reach its goal of being a “global marketplace and one-stop sourcing platform for emerging trends and innovation solutions, acquiring new knowledge and best practices, and establishing strategic relationships with industry leaders”.

Be warned, this is no specialist print show. There is a dedicated print space in hall 18, but the other nine halls cover everything from colourants/chemicals, through to weaving, spinning, knitting and embroidery to finishing and recycling.

The one-day World Textile Summit 2015 on 13 November, said by the organisers to be “relevant to all those with a strategic interest in the textile industry and the physical, economic and social environment in which it operates”, will explore business responses to the international drive for sustainability and seek to answer questions that matter to strategic decision makers, such as: How do I go about establishing and monitoring a sustainable supply chain? And what are the market opportunities that arise from a strategy based on clean production and sustainable materials?

Also taking place, on 15 November, will be the Digital Textile Conference, which this year has the theme ‘The Next Stage: Latest Advances in Production Inkjet Printing'.

The New Year will herald Heimtextil, an international trade fair that is gaining ever more traction and which is predominantly for home and contract textiles. Last time, more than 2,700 exhibitors and close to 67,000 visitors attended the event, making it a great networking event as much as a fact-finding location.

Design, sustainability, creativity and emotionality are aspects that play increasingly important roles in the home textiles sector and?Heimtextil aims to spotlight these subjects via trend shows and design presentations as well as through the main product-based show and workshops. Worth note is a Print IT Digital segment that will comprise lectures and special events.

“Digital textile printing has three great advantages: firstly, the technology uses fewer resources and permits faster product cycles; secondly, textile designers can experiment much more creatively and flexibly with high-quality designs and models; and, thirdly, purchasers of home and household textiles have the chance to react more quickly and individually to modern-day consumer demands. All this strikes a chord with the sector and its orientation towards unique and complex designs”, said Heimtextil director Ulrike Wechsung.

Digital print machines, software and accessories will be on show alongside design offerings. In the main, the show covers most interiors textile product groups including wall, window and floor options through to upholstery, table, bath and bed products.

There is also a Heimtextil Themepark in hall 6. Each year six international trend agencies work with show organisers to discuss the latest textile trends and decide upon one overarching theme, and this time around it’s ‘Well-being 4.0’.

If that doesn’t mean much to you, the event team explains it as being “all about textile furnishing that exudes an aura of relaxation and calm. At the same time, technology and science intertwined with textiles play a key role. The number 4.0 echoes ‘industry 4.0’ and stands for smart, digital and customised solutions.” Make of that what you will!??Background information and project presentations are available on www.heimtextil-theme-park.com.

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