By Melissa Donovan
According to the U.S. Digital Printed Textile Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Application (Home Textile, Apparel, Industrial, Soft Signage) Forecast, 2022 – 2030 from Grand View Research, Inc., the U.S. digital printed textile market size was estimated at USD 668.6 million in 2021 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 15.9 percent from 2022 to 2030.
The report claims that growth in demand for custom designs on a large scale is increasing requests for soft signage on fabrics or flexible woven materials. These trends are expected to drive the market in the forecast period.
“Fabric has long been replacing traditional, rigid substrate signage materials and other promotional collateral at events like trade shows. It’s a more portable, mobile, and versatile option in booths as printing technology and graphic technologies continue to evolve,” states Jeff Nonte, VP of sales (print media), TVF.
Digitally printed textiles are a force to be reckoned with, and as Grand View Research’s report indicates, it’s a vast topic that can be divided into multiple segments. For this article, we’re looking at digitally printed fabric used in promotional materials—this includes soft signage, as well as items like totes, blankets, tablecloths, and even eyeglass cloths.
Above: Fisher Textiles offers several durable fabrics for tote and drawstring bags like its 600 Poly Duck.
Connecting with a Brand
Promotional materials for corporations, businesses, and non-profit organizations are a draw as people start gathering for events again. On the textile side, this relates to bags, t-shirts, blankets, soft signage, and even carpet.
Digital textile printing is trending in the promotional garment and apparel market because people are looking to personalize various products that can help promote a brand or event. This includes personalized hats, bags, t-shirts, outerwear, and blankets, suggests Kara Work, Brand Management Group (BMG) product development director, S-One Holdings Corporation.
“Giveaways are now a valuable tool for even virtual events. These personalized products help customers connect with the brand and keep it top of mind. The design and quality of the promotional item play a major role in successful promotional products and building trust in the brand,” she continues.
“While t-shirts remain popular, we’re also seeing interest from partners who are creating promotional bags, table coverings, koozies or other branded items, and giveaway bags with messaging or logos using fabrics we supply. One reason behind these trends is the buzz that continues for trade shows,” shares Nonte.
Promotional bags, t-shirts, table coverings, branded items, koozies, and giveaway bags are popular. Nonte recommends 300 denier polyester for tablecloths and runners, which can be sublimated; t-shirt jersey fabric that is also dye-sublimation (dye-sub) compatible for wearables like shirts, long sleeve pullovers, or lightweight jackets; and brushed microsuede is ideal for eyeglass cloths. Heavier weight goods like 600 denier polyester are well suited for customized bags that are great options for dye-sub as well.
Another trend, cornhole. “Recreational events are growing in popularity. Cornhole has become a staple at outdoor events. Textile end uses for cornhole include custom cornhole bags, custom jerseys, and pitch pads,” shares Sharon Roland, advertising manager, Fisher Textiles.
When referring to soft signage, fabric-based trends in the promotional space focus on achieving ease of use and minimizing cost. For example, Lawrence Delesio, business unit manager, DAF Products, Inc., says lightweight polyester fabrics are becoming popular because of their ability to fold or roll for easy shipping and cost less to transport versus a traditional PVC banner. He sees them used in flag, backlit, and banner applications.
DAF’s W64 3.2 oz flag material product is used for traditional exterior flag stands as well as ice rink graphics for the NHL and professional curling. The versatility of this particular product as well as others is an attractive feature, especially with current supply chain issues.
This leads to our next point, working with accessible materials. “There is a huge trend toward locally sourced, which has become a need during the pandemic, so Serge Ferrari is working with a national and North American distribution team so customers do not have to wait for shipments from outside the U.S.,” explains Steve Weiss, sales manager – sign/digital North America, Serge Ferrari North America.
There is a demand for digitally printed promotional soft signage in retail, trade shows, events, and museum graphics. BMG’s HP Light Fabric is made from knitted polyester and Work says customers prefer the soft, high-end feel of the product. “It is especially useful and cost effective for trade shows or events where you must ship the signage as it is lightweight and doesn’t wrinkle. Also, with fabric banners and signs, you don’t get glare from the existing lighting,” notes Work.
Another factor driving attention to textiles is their eco-friendliness and sustainability. Weiss explains these are big topics. Serge Ferrari offers several products that are either 100 percent recycled polyester yarns, PVC free, or 100 percent recycled polyester banner and mesh.
How to Print
As with any application, it’s difficult to pinpoint the best ink process for the job without looking into factors such as material type and end use.
“No printing process is exclusive to promotional graphics. It really depends on the application, volume, and turnaround time,” shares Delesio. DAF offers traditional polyester-based fabrics for dye-sub, UV cure, eco-solvent, and latex.
According to Work, “a new generation of digital textile printers facilitates fabric printing and offers fast and cost-effective production, versatility, and reliability. Promotional items can be printed with multiple ink technologies, including dye-sub, solvent/eco-solvent, latex, and UV.
Weiss leans toward dye-sub—direct or transfer—as the leading print technology when it comes to fabric-based promotional products. Explaining that both offer the most vivid images for today’s top retail brands.
“Dye-sub printing is the best type of print process for promotional products by a long shot. Its range is nearly unmatched for most end uses in this space. For instance, you wouldn’t print a t-shirt using latex or UV methods, but dye-sub uses stretch from branded items to banners to giveaway pieces of all kinds,” agrees Nonte.
Brands look to fabric-based products as promotional vehicles, whether it is a table covering or an eyeglass cloth. With more textiles optimized for the latest digital print technologies, there is an even better chance those chachkies picked up at trade shows and corporate events will find their way into the world.
Nov2022, Industrial Print Magazine