Aaron Burton says there has been tangible growth in the market for soft signage and textile banners
The explosion prediction
In general terms, how do you see your area of the wide-format market developing and how do you see your role in it?
We actually predict an explosion in demand for digital textile printing across a host of applications. The environmental benefits will become huge as we work our way out of recession. Also, more and more companies are looking to extend their printing capabilities so that they can offer more services to their customers, widening their reach. And with textile output they hope to increase their profit margins.
We actually predict an explosion in demand for digital textile printing across a host of applications”
This is why we recently decided the Mutoh ValueJet TD printers distributed by Colourgen were a great addition to our portfolio. We wanted to be in a position to be able to offer solutions from top to bottom along with the associated consumables we also carry. Our role will be to be there and be ready. We need to be able to react quickly to customer demand because they are having to react quickly too.
If we don’t have a solution for them the day they ask, they will go elsewhere. End-user producers will turnaround jobs faster and faster and we are now in a position to turnaround their requests faster still.
What are the main challenges facing your business and how are you meeting them?
The main challenges facing our business are the so called ‘cheap’ products produced in the Far East. We have seen several companies sending jobs out to China due to the attractive prices they offer. However, all of our customers that tried this route soon decided it was not as attractive as it first appeared. There were ever increasing shipping costs, long lead times and the language barrier which meant that many mistakes were printed.
What are the latest developments in terms of products? What are their strengths, and why are they suitable to your target market?
As I mentioned, we have just become a reseller for the Mutoh ValueJet 1628TD (64") and 2628TD (104") dye-sublimation and direct-to-fabric textiles.
We needed printers that fitted the entry to mid-range level and these printers were ideal in terms of their technology, flexibility, speed and price. They are dual operation in that they can be used for dye-sublimation printing or direct-to-textile. This is hugely appealing as it means our customers can be very flexible with regards to the work they take on and they shouldn’t have to turn anything away. The printers also feature all of Mutoh’s new technological developments, such as Interweaving Technology and they achieve good top speeds.
With budgets being tight, the cost of investment is low with one of these printers and cost is king at the moment}”
In these somewhat austere times, customers are reluctant to take the ‘risk’ and invest in the new, higher cost technology—not just because of the price, but also because they can’t be sure it is for them. The fact that Mutoh have been around a while, have a lot of experience in this sector and have proven products gives both us and our customers an advantage. With budgets being tight, the cost of investment is low with one of these printers and cost is king at the moment.
Where do you see the most success with them coming from?
We took them on to address the entry to mid-level textile production market, specifically for soft signage, flags and banners. We will be looking for new opportunities and marketing them over the next few months, so watch this space.
What is your view on the growing demand from end-users for environmentally-friendly technology?
This is where digital textile printing is a real winner. Not only is the material printed or unprinted, and cheap to transport because it is light and the inks are water based, but the output can be used time and time again if needed because it is 100 percent washable in a standard machine. On top of that, if you don’t need it any more, it is 100 percent recyclable, so the environmental benefits really top anything else at the moment. Our digital sublimation paper is also produced from sustainable sources.