The impressive growth of dye sublimation is expected to continue over the next five years, as the once-disruptive technology aligns increasingly well with market dynamics.
By Janine Young
Smithers Pira’s survey of new machines introduced to the market over the past few years points to the availability of more printers priced in the upper end of the mid-productivity segment. Significantly, these are designed for optimum flexibility so as to behave, as much as possible, like the highest productivity machines. They achieve this via greater print widths twinned with the capacity to scale down smoothly for personalization or variable data work, and can allow print service providers to postpone the major capital investment of buying a press with top-tier productivity.
Printing, as with other industries in developed economies, is navigating a market pull for increased automation. Technology developers often advance the concept using the term “Industry 4.0,” incorporating existing disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence and enhanced machine vision.
In practical terms, digital print does help enable faster turnarounds for short to medium run lengths compared with conventional printing due to the reduced make-ready times. Beyond this, technology developers can achieve further productivity gains in dye sublimation through greater automation of:
• Ink and fabric loading
• Head cleaning and alignment
• Fabric handling
• Software for web-to-print ordering and press management
These improvements can be implemented now, and their growing use and adoption in the industry is imminent.
Meeting the Needs of Fashion and Online Retail
The increasing prevalence of the internet as a sales channel is having a profound impact on the supply chain for printed fabrics used in the fashion and related clothing segments.
The fast fashion trend pioneered by the likes of Spanish fashion retailer Zara has resulted in brands launching multiple collections within a traditional quarterly season. The idea is to increase the number of mini-seasons in a given length of time with a steady stream of unique new stock entering stores and posted on websites, giving shoppers more reasons to interact with the brands.
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