Reinventing Décor: Digital Textile Printing
The décor and textile markets are some of the trending niches in the digital printing industry, so using digitally printed textile for décor is the next logical step.
According to the new market research report on the: Digital Textile Printing Market by Printing Process (Roll to Roll, DTG), Ink Type (Sublimation, Pigment, Reactive, Acid), Application (Textile & Decor, Industrial, Soft Signage, Direct to Garment), and Geography – Global Forecast to 2023: “The digital textile printing market is expected to be worth USD 2.31 billion by 2023 from USD 1.76 billion in 2018, at a CAGR of 5.59% between 2018 and 2023”.
Digital textile printing has maintained a constant growth for over five years, and it has continued to rise at a rapid pace. Consequently, markets such as décor, soft-signage and fashion and apparel have also grown, due to the acceleration in which new technology for digital textile printing is being developed: new printers, inks, printheads, media (transfer paper and fabrics).
Advantages of Digital Textile for Décor
There are many factors that prompt the increase of décor production using digital textile printing versus traditional textile printing, such as:
- Development of new technologies for the digital textile printing
- Reduction of costs per unit of digitally printed textiles
- Rising demand for sustainable printing
- Energy and ink savings
- Reduced water wastage from digital printing production
- Increased range of printable materials
- Instant gratification for current customer demands (turn out is very quick)
- Reduces inventory costs, since you print-on demand and deliver when it is ready
- Short run availability, this allows customization and personalization
- Significant decrease in productivity and running costs, compared to the past
- Design limitations are almost nonexistent, since there are no restrictions in number of colors or scales.
- Photorealistic image printing
Digital Textile for Décor Workflow
Nowadays, producing customized décor items is relatively easy and cost effective.
First step is to choose the type of product you need: curtains, bed sheets, carpets, pillows, etc. this helps you decide what type of fabric, printing method (direct-to fabric or via transfer) and ink type (dependent on the chosen fabric and printing method) you will be using.
Second step is doing the actual design on any of the digital design software available (whether you scan a texture or design it yourself) and prepare the file for printing.
Proofing and color matching, this step is crucial to achieving quality prints and to keep customers satisfied. It also depends on monitor calibration and ICC profiling.
Next, process the selected file with the RIP software (tiling if needed) and send to printer, depending on the ink type and printing method the process will vary:
- Acid dye ink (silk, mohair, polyamide, nylon, wool): pre-treat, print, steam, wash (cold water, hot water, cold water), dry.
- Reactive dye (cotton, hemp, linen, rayon): pre-treat, print, steam, wash (cold water, hot water, cold water), dry.
- Disperse dye ink (polyester or polyester blends): pre-treat, print, sublimate with a hot air or roll-to-roll calendar, wash, dry.
- Pigment ink (non fiber specific): pre-treat (you can avoid this step depending on the fabric), print, fix.
- Dye sublimation ink (transfer paper): print onto paper, transfer to fabric using a roll-to-roll calender or heat press.
Final steps: draw, cut, seam patterns, assemble the finished product, and add embellishments.
Applications of Digital Textile for Décor
The décor market is very large, it covers all that is used to furnish or decorate a room, and in this case we only focus on products that are made of or contain fabric in its structure.
Instead of buying fabrics at a store, digital textile for décor allows you to design and print your customized designs; this way creating a unique environment and create a one-of-a-kind atmosphere.
This allows a more creative design; interior designers have more freedom to design what they need instead of choosing from an existing array of decorative objects. They can take a texture and created an ambience by using the same pattern of different objects.
Even no-designers benefit from this emerging technology; nowadays there are many websites where you can design your own furniture, accessories for the bedroom, bath etc. This websites offer a catalog of pieces you can customize by selecting a pattern/texture form their library or uploading it; and they later print and deliver the finished product.
Here are some examples of different things you can create by using digital textile printing for décor:
- Upholstery for: sofas, stools, chairs, beanbags,
- Curtains and drapes
- Pillow cases and bed sheets
- Towels: beach, bath, hand and face
- Carpets and rugs
- Napkins and placemats
- Pot holders and oven mitts
- Textile wall art
Although digital textile for décor still represents a small percentage of the décor market; and traditional printing covers most of it: rotary screen-printing, flat screen-printing, copper roller printing, etc. This niche is estimated to continue growing in the next couple of years, plus new technologies will continue to emerge due to the interest manufacturers have in this particular market.