Embark or miss the boat?
For many print service providers, the current financial realities are writ large and need not be rehearsed here. Suffice to say any port, even uncharted ones, can appear safe havens in an economic storm. As a print service provider steering through economic uncertainty, you take your eye off your technology compass at your peril. Its cardinal points remain innovation, efficiency, performance and opportunity. So in which direction is the needle pointing? The promise of new markets, receptive customers and enhanced margins is justification enough for any hard-nosed boss wearied from battening down the hatches, to change tack.
Recent advances in ink chemistry, media and imaging systems have converged, offering more from less. Digital textile is a case in point and many see this as the way ahead. But to my mind that ship has already sailed. Did you embark or miss the boat?
What is news is that new technology is offering fabric printing capability from machines that are no longer one trick ponies; the Designjet L26500 from HP is just one example. For dyed-in-the-wool textile converters, digital textile isn’t good enough compared to traditional processes. For others, it could prove a stitch in time for balance sheets fraying at the edges. The quality, versatility and low investment point of digital textile is reason enough to get on board now rather than wait for the next launch of cloth-capable machines. Someone once said, “a fair idea put to use is better than a good idea kept on the polishing wheel.”
The possibility of printing directly onto textiles opens doors that remained closed until now. Fresh expressions in visual communication; retail, brand promotion, soft signage, interior décor, wall art, garden and leisure products deserve another look. As ever, managing customer expectations is fundamental to success. Still, any stimulus to our marketplace is to be welcomed since a rising tide lifts all ships.