Smithers Pira forecasts 17.5% annual growth for digital textile print

smitherspiratextiles-inDouble-digit growth from 2016 to 2021 is making digital textile printing one of the most exciting market opportunities in the print and textile supply sectors, according to the latest exclusive market data from Smithers Pira. The company is a global authority on the packaging, paper and printing industry supply chains supported by facilities in the UK and U.S. The Future of Digital Textile Printing to 2021 report assesses this global market at €1.17 billion in 2016 with growth forecast at an annual average of 12.3% for 2016-2021. This will see the market more than double in value over five years, reaching €2.42 billion in 2021. Smithers’ exclusive analysis tracks how this will drive an even more rapid increase in the volume of fabric printed with inkjet equipment – from 870 million m² in 2016 to 1.95 billion m² in 2021 – a 17.5% CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate). This is supported by data on, and analysis of, rising global ink consumption and pricing, and a comprehensive survey of the state-of-the-art in textile printing equipment.

Dr. Justin Hayward.
Dr. Justin Hayward.

“Growth is continuing at an attractive pace for investors and large corporations,” said Dr. Justin Hayward, author of the report. “This is witnessed by very important merger and acquisition activity in the past two years, with conglomerates from Japan and the U.S. creating groups of companies. Old family textile printing businesses have been purchased and are being incorporated into these larger businesses, combining expertise, inks and machines.” He went on to add that global near-exponential growth rates cannot be sustained in the long run as a market matures. But several very high-growth regions remain. The revolution in digital printing created in graphics, and more recently in ceramics, shows that a market penetration of over 70% can occur within a few years if there’s extensive cost parity – or better, and if barriers to change are removed.

In 2016 for textiles, the market share for digital processes is 2.8% of overall volume. But digital’s share is set to boom in a segment where the mean growth is just 3%. As this develops, major printing companies are increasingly taking an interest in the textile segment, fostering the development of new business models, printheads, inks, media, and high throughput machinery. 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 study period, which will convert into the largest increase in value for 2016-2021. Technical textiles are predicted to lose ground slightly, which is indicative of a lack of visibility of, or focus on, these smaller niche markets.

Other factors

Quick turnaround is an increasing priority as the fashion segment embraces multiple mini-seasons and print-on-demand delivery models, said the report. This specifically suits inkjet production with its reduced set-up times. It’s also supported by the growing availability of web-to-print platforms. These portals are also enabling “value web” approaches – generating direct online sales of digitally printed clothing, and increasingly household décor as well. Finally, global textile industry dynamics are changing and the importance of Asian economies continues to increase.


Tony Curcio is the editor of Graphic Arts Magazine.