Dr. Stefan Kappaun
Executive Vice President Durst Group
On demand web-to-print businesses for textile applications expected to grow
With headquarters in Brixen, South Tyrol, Italy, Durst is a manufacturer of advanced digital printing and production technologies. In an interview with Fibre2Fashion, Dr. Stefan Kappaun, Executive Vice President, Durst Group, gives an outline of the core business areas of its digital printing business, the way the company is contributing to sustainability initiatives and new product developments.
What is the growth story of Durst Group?
Durst is a family-owned company with its headquarters in Brixen, South Tyrol, Italy. Founded in 1936, Durst started off with pioneering photo enlargers and continued its innovation journey with a multitude of different photo products such as cameras (e.g Durst Automatica) or digital developers (e.g Lambda 130).
With the digital disruption of the photo business in the mid-1990s, Durst had to re-invent itself. Remaining true to the core competency of "reproducing images", Durst entered the field of industrial inkjet printing and initiated an impressive growth story. Soon, the company realised that a pure focus on machine engineering and print heads/electronics is not enough, so further know-how in the fields of applications and ink chemistry was established. Owning and optimising this "magic triangle of inkjet printing" is still considered as key success factor for bringing inkjet technology to industrial markets. Today, Durst is fully focused on digital printing technology and serves customers in the business areas (i) Graphics, (ii) Industrial Textiles, (iii) Labels and Packaging, (iv) Ceramic Tiles and (v) Corrugated Packaging with digital printing machinery, inks, services and software solutions.
How has covid-19 impacted your country, especially the business of digital printing technology?
Durst is a family-owned company with its headquarters in Brixen, South Tyrol, Italy. With a company history of more than 80 years, Durst is fully focused on digital printing technology today. Here, it serves customers in the business areas (i) Graphics, (ii) Industrial Textiles (iii) Labels and Packaging (iv) Ceramic Tiles and (v) Corrugated Packaging with digital printing machinery, inks, and service and software solutions. In the field of industrial textile printing, Durst offers highly productive Alpha product line that can be operated with reactive, pigment and dyesub Inks.
As any company in the world, Durst was also impacted by the pandemic. Especially during the first lockdown period from March to May 2020, the global demand for printed textiles dropped sharply. However, with the end of the first lockdown, the industrial textile printing business has also picked up again. Driven by the "new normal" in combination with re-thinking of supply chains, glocalisation and strong e-commerce push by many companies, digital textile printing proved to be the perfect match to this new business environment.
By what percentage has this affected profit and is likely to impact further?
While the global demand for printed textiles dropped sharply during the first lockdown period, our industrial textile business picked up again in the mid of 2020. In contrast to analog printing technology that was not fully utilised that time, digital industrial textile printers were running at full capacity. The ability to produce shorter run-lengths in a cost-efficient way together with ultra-fast design changes proved to be the perfect match for the new business environment - and still is! Doing so, the Durst industrial textile business was able to continue its growth also in 2020.?
What are the new developments in terms of your product line? Kindly elaborate.
For customers with an industrial textile background, Durst offers the Alpha series. This machine platform comes in printing widths of 190 and 330 cm, respectively. It is designed specifically for industrial textile professionals, such as textile mills and web-to-print print houses, and offers impressive image quality combined with outputs of up to 1470 sqm/h in a so called dual-roll setup. Basically, two ink options are available: Alpha Reactive Inks for printing on cotton-based materials and Alpha Pigment Inks for printing on a broad portfolio of substrates ranging from cotton to blends and even polyester materials. The versatility, the hand-feel of the prints and the fastness properties of the pigment prints are very popular with the textile industry. At the moment, a lot of market interest is observed in this area especially in combination with the Durst Smart Shop solution allowing customers to enter into the e-commerce business straight away. As the mentioned inks are Oekotex-compliant and GOTS-compliant, a broad range of applications are possible: home textiles, fast and quality fashion, textile specialty products, and many more.
For direct-and transfer-printing on polyester and polyester-blend materials, Durst also offers dedicated product lines such as the Rhotex 325 and P5 TEX iSUB series. These are excellent products for fulfilling the trend towards consumer individualisation, especially in Point of Sale (POS), soft-signage, web-to-print and print-on-demand business environments. The recently introduced P5 TEX iSUB even comes with an inline fixation unit simplifying the entire production process even further.
Sustainability across the supply chain is an imperative today. How earth-friendly is your product line?
Durst has always pursued an ecological and sustainable approach, which is also firmly entrenched in our corporate philosophy. Every technical solution is evaluated against its possible effects to people and the environment, which is why, for example, solvent and eco-solvent concepts have never been pursued within our graphics and textile businesses. This goes hand in hand with our concept of sustainable print solutions where it is our clear target to offer the most sustainable digital print technologies to our customers. This starts with considering the ink technologies but also the minimum substrate waste when feeding the machine and minimum waste generation, energy and water consumption in the machine manufacturing itself.
Putting the spotlight on the textile industry, it has one of the most extensive water and energy footprints of all industry sectors. Analog textile printing techniques generate high amounts of ink wastage, require the preparation, cleaning and storage of screens, do not permit short production runs and utilise high water amounts. For example, the water usage for rotary screen printing is in the region of 50-60 litres of water per metre of printed product. In contrast, digital textile printing technologies are far more sustainable than analog alternatives and pave the way towards a cleaner, more efficient and more profitable textile production approach: no ink is wasted in screens but also the water consumption is much lower. According to FESPA, digital textile printing saved more than 40 billion litres of water usage in the worldwide textile industry in 2018. From this example it is evident how digital printing and especially the Durst Alpha series is contributing to sustainability improvement of the industry.
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