Happy New Year - 2020 the year of printing

January 06, 2020

Well Happy New year to all. I hope you have made some new a great promises to yourself.

I imagine they should be in this row, stop smoking, stop drinking, stop flying, stop eating meat, stop yelling at your dog, stop, stop & stop.

Funny enough we are always thinking of how to stop bad habits in the new year. I would like to start new habits, let’s start producing for better prices & margins, start interacting with your customers and staff, start becoming more active in private and professional areas, start being honest to your fellow workers and just start doing more different things.

On that note, I will start with opening our thoughts to things happening in 2020. In the Middle Eastern city Dubai for example they will host the World Expo 2020, for the first time in history the European soccer championship will not be held in one country but across Europe. Air Travel will grow even more than before and but CO2 emissions will continue to be a main topic.  Public right movements, nature activists and just protesters will get there ways or not and family live will continue as it was before the 31st of December.

This year the global print show Fespa will be in Madrid, while it’s again a big year in Dusseldorf, that will color red again from the drupa signs and flags. Istanbul will host the ITM show, Print Unlimited expands in the USA and there are some other great shows around the world that I might have forgotten.

Yes, all of these shows will be dedicating a part of their floorspace for sportswear and fashion production. Textiles will again be the next thing in 2020.

In the end of 2019 I did a small Western European Textile survey about what companies would be doing in textile production, what type of inks, printers and productions. I compiled the results and found some interesting directions.

In the survey I asked things like, what textile printer do you have today? Well over 50% of the respondents said they had a Mimaki textile printer, 35% had large industrial products like Durst, MS, EFI-Reggiani machines. The rest had others printers like Mutoh, Roland, HP Stitch, Mtex and others.  A great mixed bunch of textile producers.

What are we producing:

As expected we are still producing a lot of roll-to-roll fabrics for fashion but look at sportswear, it’s with winter wear almost more than fashion.

(Please note that this survey was for Western Europe only)

Screen print is still a big part in the garment industry but the upcoming of the direct to garment devices is also getting a big share companies like Epson, Ricoh and Kornit Digital have been placing garment printing devices in Europe since the last few years and are getting the traction they deserve.

The printing of carpets was my big surprise of the survey. There is a demand for sure, unfortunately I don’t know if these are promotional carpets or the household carpets.

The question on inks was no surprise at all, 87% of all respondents where using dye sublimation inks in some way or another. 37.5% of the users are using Pigment inks and there is still a big group users printing with reactive and acid inks. That the trend is pointing to dye sublimation, that is a fact.

I did not ask about ink pricing as there are some many local differences, not only in ink quality but also in pricing. Pricing based on volume, location and source all could make it non transparent.  But I do see a trend that inks are becoming more expensive again and that qualities are also going up.

Asking, where would they buy their next printer from was very interesting Japan, USA and Italy are the favorite countries. India & China where not even mentioned. This is very strange, as the Chinese companies Atexco & Homer and the Indian company ColorJet produce more printers than the others combined.

As 75% of all the respondents have 2 or more printers, 12.5% had more than 5 printers installed there must be a notion that there is more than Italian or Japanese machines.

The mix of size was also interesting the 1.6-1.8 meter printer size was many times combined with a 3 or 5 meter printer.

Quality is still the main factor for printing digital, speed comes second but Durability and service that has a high ranking. In my opinion is that the respondents value the service offering and what to make sure all works well. Reliability and professionalism are key today.

Hybrid printers (paper/direct & 2 ink types) are becoming also more popular if you ask the survey respondents.

Including a rip is less important, due to the fact that most production houses that did the survey already have a rip. Newcomers and starters would need a rip and would like to have it in the box.

When we asked what is your current printing speed for the  roll-to-roll devices you have in your production today, we came out to about 60sqm or 40 linear meter per hour as an average.

So overall we see a trend of having a better, faster printer with good manufacturer or dealer service organization in the dye sublimation printing arena. This is going to be the focal point for 2020. Although most of the respondents did not believe they needed to expand their production for 2020.

With all the events and sporting events in 2020 I believe we will see some growth in the printing of sqm’s but maybe the saturation of printers in western Europe is big enough to pick up the slack.

Wishing you all a happy new year and a lot of printing.

Mike Horsten
ZEMT Consultancy and freelance writer
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