Early printing methods
Textile printing, first known since the 3rd Century B.C., has come of ages. Printing designs on fabric, arguably, started in Asia. And India, in particular, has a very rich, and long tradition of making colorful designs and decorations, something that is found rooted in its culture. No wonder then that it was a forerunner in textile printing designing, using wooden block or stamp printing techniques initially. Later, China came up with stencil techniques that spread to Japan. From there on, printing took new forms and names in Batik, Shibori, and Tie-die. Trade flourished from Asia to Europe to Africa, and eventually, new design forms and techniques kept originating.
Later, around the 17th Century, the East India Company took the design and print forms to the British market. The British came up with styles and techniques of their own, to suit their taste and requirement. Calico printing, in particular, gained acceptance in other European countries such as France, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
Roller or cylinder printing techniques came into existence in the early 20th Century and gave shape and structure to the printing industry as a whole. By the mid 20th Century, multicolored screen printing paved the way for large scale printing processes that were not only popular but economical, too.
Why did Digital Printing Technology Expand Over the Years?
Like any other industry, textile printing evolved over a period of time, and what we now have is the process of digital printing. In the age of computers and the Internet, digital is key to any industry, and textile printing is no exception to this. It has got the answers to the consumers of the current generation, which is so dynamic. Also, global brands resort to digital printing technology to address industry requirements, market demands, supply chain et al.
Using digital technology one can ideate, create, and produce designs in a jiffy. Manufacturers can now deliver on time, with the help of automation tools; as a result, the TAT (or the Turn-Around-Time) gets shortened. The younger generation could not have asked for more - a new design every month, or every week, or even every day.
With the advent of technology, there would be no need to store finished products in warehouses, for a longer period, as ‘Just-In-Time’ manufacturing is a reality now; textile mill owners manufacture only what is on order, and deliver them instantly to sellers, who are pleased to see their customers happy and loyal.
Why is Digital Printing More Cost Effective than Screen Printing?
Digital technology offers cost-effective printing solutions that lead to large scale production as a result of huge demand and is now a key economic driver. Its applications are unlimited and cater to the needs of the industry across the globe. 3D printing technology that offers seamless printing solutions has started gaining acceptance in the textile industry as well.
Current textile printing technology has been synonymous with endless opportunities. Customization, sophisticated inks, and hybrid fabrics offer a range of clothing options; from big players to smaller ones, clothing companies are striking gold. E-Commerce has taken their businesses to the next level. Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra, Alibaba, Jabong have their doors open to small manufacturers and traders who have bridged the big gap, and in the process ensured customers in remote corners of the world are served.
What will be a shocker though is the darker side of this industry - the workforce around the world are made scapegoats to the advancement in printing technology. Job loss percentage is on the rise, as digital technology overtakes human intervention. We are living in the age of the human-touch-free era; we want everything that is technology-driven.
Old is gold, indeed
Technology may have invaded our homes, and things that we use daily, but deep inside we have this feeling that machines cannot replace man - very true. Experts would agree with the fact that the fabric is given life by the human touch, and no technology can ever replace that, though textile printing may have come of ages, to adopt digital technology.