The future of digital textile printing

The digital garment printing industry is starting to make its stamp within the larger printing industry.  It has enjoyed significant growth in recent years and it looks set to grow even further in the future. Smithers Pira predicts double digit growth across 2016-2021, and is therefore making the digital textile printing one of the most exciting market opportunities in the print and textile industry.

Growth Opportunities

The company’s new report, The Future of Digital Textile Printing to 2021, forecasts an average annual growth rate of 12.3 per cent and expects the global market to more than double in value over the next five years, from nearly $2 billion in 2016 to more than $4 billion in 2021 (all figures in Canadian dollars). The soft signage and display materials sector is expected to maintain double-digit growth during that period, but the largest increase is expected in the clothing and household textile sector. This rapid and lucrative market expansion is being fuelled by a series of factors, including technical innovations and evolving end-user demands. The market in 2016 for the digital textiles market share was about 2.8% of  the overall print volume. But the digital print share is set to boom in a segment where the mean growth is just 3%.

According to the Smithers Pira report, “The greatest acceleration across the study period will be in clothing, which has the key sub-segments of fashion, haute couture and sportswear. Household textiles are predicted to grow at the next fastest rate. Displays and signage are growing somewhat more slowly – from a larger base – but will maintain double digit annual growth across the Smithers study period, which will convert into the largest absolute increase in value for 2016-2021. Technical textiles will lose ground slightly, which is indicative of a lack of visibility of, or focus on, these smaller niche markets.”

Mike Horsten, GM of Marketing at Mimaki EMEA says, “There is a big change happening in textile printing.  This is being driven by a number of factors, including the advancements in digital textile printers and inks, as well as the demand for shorter runs, faster cycle times and more customized textile-based products for home and fast fashion. Digital textile printing addresses these market requirements and offers a new, greener way to produce outstanding textiles.”

Heimtextil 2017

Heimtextil 2017, a leading trade fair for home and contract textiles, was held in Frankfurt Germany from January 10 to 13.  This show kicked off the first trade fair of the year for this sector, and provided a trend barometer for the whole business year in this category. At this event for interior textiles, design and trends, dealers and designers presented their products and innovations to a large audience of trade visitors. Many major manufacturers such as  d.gen, Durst, EPSON, HP, Mimaki and Mutoh were present.

New at Heimtextil 2017 was the Digital Textile Micro Factory, a live illustration of the entire digital production cycle, from design, digital printing and automated cutting to serial manufacturing integrated into the workflow. “We are very excited to be participating in this unique experience,” Horsten reported before the event. “It is an ideal opportunity for visitors to the show to gain a deep understanding of the digital textile printing process and to understand the benefits it brings to textile printing operations of all types and sizes. Visitors will be able to quickly understand how they can incorporate digital printing into the mix for their benefit and that of their customers.”


Since the rotary screen-printing machine was introduced in a middle of 1960s, there have not been any significant developments in textile printing technology until recently. With the onslaught of the new inkjet technologies, the upcoming years should prove to be a pivotal time for the textile printing industry and digital inkjet printing technologies to redefine a new workflow and textile design paradigm.