Forsstrom’s Eliasson echos what Lamb said earlier. “You would typically outsource your fabric welding when you have a small production, and bring it in house when production is growing and you need to control the quality of your product and the delivery time,” says Eliasson.
“If a limited production of only a few pieces is needed, this can be outsourced,” suggests Karel Lansu, director of marketing & sales at Klieveri. “When a digital printer is occupied for a full shift daily, it’s necessary to have your own equipment for finishing. With the smallest drum-diameter calendar (200mm), you still have the possibility to grow in capacity, as one calendar can cope with the production of two to three digital printers.”
Izmirlian offers a word of caution when it comes to outsourcing. “I wouldn’t recommend PSPs outsource the heat transfer process. But, in the case of steaming and washing, I would wait until I have a real ongoing production to purchase the equipment, and this is due to the high cost of the equipment.”
Lamb says, “Fabric finishing requires a skill set and space. Often the extrusions, stretch frames, and finished pieces need to be setup for measuring and testing. This can require a fair amount of space. Additionally the sewing and construction require skill sets that are not common in non-textile print shops. Bringing these finishing components in-house make sense when the skill set, space, and level of pain that outsourcing is creating all converge.”
With the ongoing changes in the industry, PSPs are able to tap into underutilized markets and to follow trends to create a larger bottom line. The experts offer their insights.
Lansu feels it is important to direct PSPs to venture into the area of home textiles.
Izmirlian says, “This is an 11 million dollar question because your imagination and creativity can take you to unthinkable markets.”
Lamb gives an overview of the marketplace. “According to industry reports, the printed textile market is estimated to be a $165 billion market on a worldwide basis, and digitally printed textiles represent less than 1.5 percent of this volume. Within this overall market are exhibits and trade shows, retail, POP, soft-signage, upholstery and décor, and apparel.”
Lamb adds, “All of these areas are growing as end users continue to demand lower fulfillment and shipping costs, more environmental considerations, and a higher quality look and feel. Fabric addresses all of these areas.”
The current and future trends of this market rely heavily on technology and the abilities and innovation of the PSPs.
Lansu says, “Higher speed digital printers have been installed lately with capacities of 500 sqm/hr or more. Still, they have to prove themselves in the market. However, the trend will be certainly that digital will take over traditional printing with flatbed or rotary screen printing machinery.”
Lamb adds, “Some of the greatest attributes of fabric is the ability to create any shape or creative stretched piece that the end user may desire. Another great attribute is the lightweight and high quality finish. Therefore, the ancillary pieces need to match these attributes. RexFrame is a great example of a beautiful, lightweight, recyclable extruded aluminum that can be customized to any size or shape for stretched fabric. This is a very complementary product, and in the future we will see more products that complement the wonderful attributes of fabric.”
“We see our customers using the machines for other applications, such as light architecture with prints. We stress to our customers that they need to widen their customer type and base. Many PSPs find use of our equipment for many other applications. Since RF equipment is versatile it is easy to vary between different product types,” says Eliasson.