The Wide World of Fabric Printing 06-08

When it comes to wide-format printing, there are a myriad of options out there for the types of jobs that can be produced. Printers and designers alike have come up with some highly creative uses of the technology, and the innovation will only continue as inks, printheads, and even substrates continue to improve. But one category in particular is starting to gain some real steam: fabric printing.

And while fabric printing can mean anything from soft signage to curtains and couches, one subset in particular is gaining momentum, and that’s garment printing.

Patrick Clark, founder of NextWave Media Solutions, is one printer here in the United States who sees a major shift in how clothing is created coming. He is the first customer to be up and running with the EFI Reggiani press here in North America, and he has big plans for where he is going to take the market.

“The ability to do short run, on demand apparel printing has great advantages,” said Clark. “Because of the technology, and because of the practicality, it’s now become a reality in our marketplace. The ability to—at a decent price—produce a garment on demand, and not just custom pieces, but any garment, is incredible. It takes the cost of inventory and closeouts, which can be as much as 60% of total cost of the garment, out of the picture. We can efficiently produce pieces not just for micro production houses, but for any retailer, and this is the way Amazon and other big players will fulfill their production in the future. It’s on demand so they don’t have to carry billions of items, they can just produce whatever is required, in whatever size is needed.”

He noted that this isn’t just a pipe dream either — companies in Europe are starting to have some success with this model, with clothing house Zara being a prime example. Clark notes that they have shortened their design and production times, using wide-format digital technologies, to tighter cycles than have ever been seen in the industry before. “It used to take six weeks just to get the first design approved, and they would be selling up to 14 months in advance,” he said. “You would have some young buyer purchasing for 14 months in advance, for four colors and then finding three don’t sell.” With the new technologies, however, he notes that Zara is taking just six weeks from the design phase to having it available to purchase, and then they are moving on to the next design.

In the United States, the push to use these technologies in garment design and production has been a bit slower to be adopted, in part, Clark says, because the stores here tend to have larger minimum production runs required, and in part because Europe is where the technologies are being developed, so they are the first to try the new systems. But late to the party doesn’t mean getting locked out entirely. NextWave just had the Reggiani system on display at Magic Marketplace in February, the twice-annual trade show for the clothing and accessory market, showing a full scale “apparel microfactory” that attracted interest from some of the industry’s biggest clothing manufacturers. Clark plans to be there again in August to further demonstrate what the complete system—which allows them to take a design from print, to fixation, to cutting, to sewing all in one sequence—is capable of.

DuPont Honors Bemis in 2017 Packaging Innovation Competition 06-08

Bemis Company has been honored by DuPont for the Kellogg's Nutri-Grain Bakery Delights package featuring textured film. The package received a Silver Award in the 2017 DuPont Awards for Packaging Innovation.

The innovative Kellogg's package features textured film technology, presenting on shelf as a bakery treat that looks like it's wrapped in kraft paper and twine. To capture the attention of millennial shoppers, the package is designed to look, feel, crinkle, and crunch like paper.

The thin-gauge flow wrap film is a practical alternative to paper laminates. The packaging extends the breakfast cake's shelf life and appeal, while meeting brand owners' need for packaging speed, hermetic seals, and product protection.

"The DuPont Packaging Awards honor innovations in the packaging supply chain that demonstrate excellence in technological advancement, responsible packaging and enhanced user experience while incorporating science, inspiration and creativity," said Bernard Rioux, global packaging leader, DuPont Performance Materials. "The 2017 winners are true representations of how companies innovate and collaborate to solve industry problems."

The awards were announced on Monday, May 22, 2017.

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