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Tue, Jan

Soft landings

It’s been a tough year, with many PSPs diversifying to cushion the fall in work from traditional markets. So could textile printing for the likes of the décor market be worth considering? Robin East, CMYUK group sales and marketing director, argues the case for doing so. 

It’s Heimtextil early in the new year - at Frankfurt am Main on 11-14 January to be precise. Those of you involved in textile print no doubt know that, and those of you thinking of getting involved probably should. But how many of you really are getting involved in textile print - beyond soft signage that is? Plenty of commercial large-format PSP have gone that route, but still relatively few have got into areas such as décor, where we’re constantly bombarded with reports of growing opportunity. We’ll ask questions about diversification into such sectors in the 2022 Widthwise Survey and report back on whether the Covid pandemic has prompted more PSPs to reconsider it. Meanwhile, given the timeliness of this issue in relation to what is Europe’s biggest trade fair for home and contract  textiles, CMYUK group sales and marketing director Robin East has this to say…

PSPs have long adopted textile printing (eg. soft signage and textile wallcoverings) but the vast majority have been reticent about diversifying into new sector opportunities. Yet, the fact is that PSPs have the transferrable skills to enter into these high-yield markets, and they may even already have some of the required core technology.

In many ways this is a mindset issue. While many PSPs continue in their traditional markets, a burgeoning new business demographic armed with digital just-in-time printing methods and powered by the internet has emerged. These owner producers design, digitally print, manufacture, promote and sell their wares online. This growing creative entrepreneurial sector has stepped up to the potential that digital processes present and adopted automated e-commerce strategies on which to build their brands. It has capitalised on advances in digital printing equipment where affordable machines provide consistent, reliable, high-quality output.

The pandemic has badly affected the global textile market. However, moving forward, the benefits of digital printing over conventional printing methods, and the practice of reshoring - printing locally, avoiding global supply chains, presents large growth potential.

Covid has also demonstrated two essential truths for traditional PSPs: they can diversify quickly in response to market trends because they have the equipment and skillset; that establishing an online presence for new revenue streams is a sensible, and possibly necessary exercise, for future resilience.

CMYUK’s new collection of eco polyesters and natural fabrics can provide PSPs with the additional tools to push into this growth market, offering credible introductions into new industries, servicing existing clients with fresh new innovations.

Fabric technology has come into its own measurably in a short space of timer. While digitally prepared polyesters are used for many applications for display, signage, they reach far more beyond this.

CMYUK eco polyesters have multiple weaves and handles, drape beautifully, and are soft to the touch. They imitate natural fabrics very convincingly, perfect for the burgeoning digital décor and fashion markets. They can also be used to great effect in the corporate décor, events and exhibitions sectors - really pushing the boat out in terms of an  ambitious new aesthetic that can bring that little something extra to a brand’s promotional identity. All polyesters can be printed with paper sublimation, and some if coated, can be printed directly using UV inks.

Another area that is worth exploring is digitally printing natural fabrics. Advances in pigment ink technology can now provide a colour gamut that was simply unachievable in the past.

Historically, to get a good colour on natural cottons and linens meant you needed to use reactive Inks. However, these need lengthy finishing processes (i.e., steaming and washing) that are time consuming and expensive. Pigment printing on the other hand, doesn’t require any of this, just heat fixation. This has made printing onto natural cottons and linens much easier and less expensive, allowing customers clear access to these high-yield and fast-growing markets.  

For all you HP Latex owners out there, CMYUK offers DuraVibe fabrics. This is a range of soft furnishing textiles that was specifically developed for use with HP Latex ink technology. By using a heat press to fix the print, HP Latex owners have the ability to offer soft furnishing, decorative homewares and kitchen textiles that are fit for purpose - durable, with high crock-fastness and the ability to withstand frequent washing.    

Traditional sign and display PSPs such as Colour Graphics, MX Display, 360 Solutions, YPP, Banner Box and Manchester Display recognise the synergy. The diversification message is slowly being heard.

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