Sublimation printing continues to create new and exciting opportunities for textile producers. As a result of the growing sector, cutting edge printing technologies keep pace with evolving printing requirements.
According to the latest report published by Smithers Pira, global testing, consulting and information services business, the market is expected to rise from a value of €6.99 billion in 2017 to €7.63 billion in 2018.Global dye-sublimation printing market will reach a total market value to €12.4 billion over the next five years. So, we must pay close attention to the key components of the sector to understand the future of sublimation printing.
More industrial and high-speed printer requirements
The demand for high-tech printers has been increasing in the market. For the last five years, in response to the increased demand, digital printer manufacturers have initiated the production of high speed, more industrial and high-volume systems. More compact designs, better printheads and other printer components are being produced. Especially newer printheads offer faster print speed and automatic circulation system and reduce printhead nozzle clog, one of the most common causes of downtime. All these changes affect ink and paper requirements of sublimation users as well. Accordingly, what are required is dye sublimation inks that feature faster print speeds and high-quality prints and better transfer papers that perfectly work in high-speed mode.
Capital expenditures and consumption costs
Dye sublimation printersat entry level and wide format printers at the industrial levelare offered at very reasonable prices for both those who want to start up small-scale print service business and to run large-scale textile printing. For those who will manufacture at the industrial level, capital expenditure is not the most important criteria in buying decision. What is important here is consumption or running costs for sublimation. Sublimation ink and transfer paper costs therefor become a substantial part of the total cost. The key requirement of the market is to get the most reliable print at the highest quality and efficiency, which make sublimation ink and transfer papers more important in that regards.
The printer software must set the ink consumption at optimal level and reduce unnecessary ink consumption. Additionally, another factor reducing the ink consumption is the quality of the transfer paper used in sublimation printing. In cases where coated papers are preferred, the ink should be transferred to the fabric at the highest rate possible, providing maximum productivity and efficiency.
Complex workflows and more useful software needs
Softwareis another key component that has a huge impact on printing manufacturers’ workflows and correspondingly printing manufacturers need more innovative software. Thanks to the practicalsoftware, the capacity of sublimation printers can be increased and the printer can efficiently use both the ink and material, resulting in lower consumption costs.
High quality polyester fabrics
As we all know, sublimation printing only bonds with polyester (at least 60% polyester). In the past, cotton fabrics were regarded the only healthy option, whilst today’s polyester fabrics now are more healthy and practical. So, when we look at changing trends and new developments in sublimation printing, we see that new polyester fabrics are more elastic, have better moisture wicking and anti-microbial properties. For instance, some polyester fabrics are flame retardant. For this reason, such polyester fabrics are widely used in car interior upholstery as well as upholstery fabric. Polyester fabrics used for sportswear have evolved in recent years as well. To set an example, we see shiny finish in sublimated jerseys andspecial and elastic polyester fabrics are specifically being designed for workout and yoga pants, shorts or arms of team uniforms.
Changing the final user profile
The same report by Smithers Pira reveals that the leading sublimation printing segments used by the end user are garment industry with 77.8% (according to 2021 forecast) followed by visual communication products with 10.7%, home textile with 8.7% and technical textile with 5.7%. As tabulated, garments, sportswear, fashion and other garment products represent a majority of the market value in sublimation printing.
Online shopping, in other words, e-commerce, hasbeen a rising trend in garment industry and customers’ shopping habits and demands have changed in this respect. Manufacturers now can directly sell their products through these platforms andend users can purchase directly from the printing manufacturer, and the value chain becomes shorter and flexible. As the manufacturer uses online sales channels, end-user’s demand for faster production and delivery influence the printing process. Given that customized items are being sold through online platforms and the market is growing day by day, manufacturers now seek to produce more customized designs in low quantities and accordingly suchfundamental needs as correct sublimation printer, ink and paper have emerged.
Wider application areas of sublimation printing
As a result of the Smithers Pira’s latest market data report, as we previously mentioned, sublimation printing attracts attention especially in garment fabrics, visual communication products, home textile and technical textile areas. Yet, as the report indicates, there are many sub-fields where the sublimation printing is utilized. Garment fabrics include personalized cloths, sportswear products, swimsuit and bikini, scarf and tie, socks and bags. Home textile is not limited to upholstery products; sublimation printing is also suitable for use in a wide range of areas like quilt cover set and bedding sets, wall coverings and carpets. As for the visual communication products, sublimation printing supports an extensive range ofapplications including interior and outdoor soft signage and banners, flags,retail and display products.And ultimately, sublimation printing is widely used in technical textile category including such automotive printing as seats, panels, sound absorption, bags, medical textile, and tents, sails, parasols, accessories and sports equipment.