Russia’s Diverse Digital Textile Printing Market

By Oleg Litvinov / Published:

Russia is one of the largest consumers of textile products in Europe. Products are delivered from China, Turkey, Italy, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Vietnam, Uzbekistan and Belarus. Local market requirements are directed towards the production of high-quality clothing, with quick sale through marketplaces.

The industrial systems market is still shaping up in Russia and the machinery install base is increasing rapidly. However, the market is still far from saturation. The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has transformed industry and accelerated digital transformation. Across a wide range of businesses, the proportion of total sales delivered online rose from 46% in 2019 to 62% in Q1-2021. This was particularly true for digital textile printers which had established online platforms. Textile-focused businesses are attempting to restructure supply chains and restore more of their activities, bringing manufacturing operations back home. Digital printing offers a number of advantages over traditional printing, including speed, shorter lead times, customization options, cost reduction and flexibility.

Let us take a look at numbers. The Digital Textile printers installed in Russia have been the basis of application in the Direct to Fabric (DTF) and Direct to Garment (DTG) sectors. In each sector they are categorized according to throughput.

Direct To Fabric

There are 44 industrial high-volume DTF Printers (no less than 1.8 meter-wide, productivity 150 m2/h. and upwards) installed in Russia.

The leader in this category, with a high market share of 23 machines, is MS Printing Solutions, part of Dover Digital Printing. Seventeen of the machines are the roll-fed JP4 model, equipped with Kyocera printheads. In Russia MS Printing Solutions sells via the Textile and Technology (T&T) Moscow company.

In second place is EFI Reggiani with eight installations, including Russia’s first EFI Reggiani POWER 180 and POWER 240 digital printers, as well as EFI Reggiani NEXT (EFI partner in Russia Nissa Distribution (TM Stensart). There is also one EFI VUTEk FabriVU, sold by the Prizmix.

Konica Minolta Russia sold three single-pass Nassenger machines for direct printing on fabric, knitwear and textiles, and a fourth will be installed in neighboring Belarus. Additionally, three Homer presses from Shenzhen HOMER Textile Tech Co., Ltd have found customers in Russia, two of them using sublimation ink and one reactive. Kovcheg and Zenon sell a range of Homer digital textile printer in Russia. Two carpet printing machines sold by Zimmer and two HP sublimation printers have been sold by local dealer Printdetal.

Chinese Atexo, sold by ALLART Service, Flora and Italian Durst (SignArt from Saint-Petersburg is an exclusive distributor for Durst) each have one machine installed.

Among those 44 high volume industrial digital textile printers, 30 print on synthetic fabrics and knitwear, 13 on natural fibers and only one uses pigment inks.

Fewer than 50 units account for Industrial mid-range wide-format digital textile printers, which include 1.8 meter-wide or bigger machines with productivity more than 75 m2/h. Among these are fewer than ten Mimaki TS55-1800 machines as well as Chinese Gongzheng GZS 3202 sold by Zenon. For this the category install base grew 20% during the first nine months of 2021.

Commercial Digital Textile Printers, at least 1.6 m. wide (productivity may vary – below or above 50 m2/h), take the lion’s share of DTF machines installed in Russia. For the past ten years around 1,000 machines have been installed, with 50% from Mimaki via distributors Smart-T and RussKom, and 25% Epson, who sell through a partner network. The third position belongs to the Chinese brands, including ALLART Service own brand, COLORS, with width 2.2 and 3.2 m. Mutoh and Roland also have several installations in Russia.

Commercial entry-level digital textile printers, at 1-1.6 meter-wide, and desktop printers of less than 1 meter-wide, also have a few dozen installations.

Out of a Total of 24.5 million square meters of textile printed in Russia, 39% was produced on high and mid-volume DTF machines. The remaining 61% was printed on less productive models. As for the ink, sublimation dye ink dominated the market share in Russia with 86%, compared to a worldwide average of 52%. Reactive ink shares 11% and pigment only 3%. Among recent trends observed is investment in reactive printing systems for natural fabrics such as the recent MS JP7 and Konica Minolta Pro8 installation. The demand for pigment printing is also growing, owing to a waterless process and the use of eco-friendly inks. This requires considerably less equipment and simplified workflow. Implementing a regulatory framework which outlines environmental requirements for print production could further facilitate the demand for pigment printing in Russia. The market for printing with pigment inks on natural fabrics is developing fast. One of the most popular models on the market, with almost 70% market share, is Mimaki Tx300P-1800, followed by Colors printers 2.2 or 3.2 m. in width, with embedded infra-red dryer. The sublimation printing market is also growing steadily, owing to low cost on entering the digital textile printing business.

Direct To Garment

More than one thousand DTG printers have been installed in Russia over the last decade, with another 150 units expected to be sold in 2021.

Among 20 industrial high-volume DTG printers, the first are Aeoon Compact, sold by Nissa Distribution (TM Stensart) in 2020, and three Kornit Storm HD6 sold by ATD All Prints Technologies.

For the industrial mid-range models there could be around 20 to 25 machines before the end of this year, among them the Epson 3000, Brother GTXpro BULK and Epson SureColor F3000. The rest are Commercial entry-level, including different DTG models from Brother, Epson, Polyprint (distributor in Russia Smart-T) and Compact (A4 size) printers such as Ricoh Ri 100 and Roland Versa STUDIO BT-12. It is worth noting that among 150 DTG printers sold in Russia in 2019, 50% cost less than 15,000 EUR.

COVID-19 has had a negative impact on almost every sector, including digital printing. Sales of equipment for direct-to-garment printing in 2020 decreased by 25%. The prognosis for 2021 is that around 150 DTG printers will be sold in Russia, the same as the previous year.

Prior to COVID-19, sales of direct-to-garment equipment were growing, owing to the high demand for personalized garments. E-commerce and changing consumer habits with regard to buying preference have increased the demand for DTG printing solutions. The pandemic drove an increasing number of consumers online and increased the demand for digital commerce as well as local manufacturing and logistics.

Taking into account the fact that Russia’s direct-to-garment printing market is on the rise, there is an opportunity for textile business companies to bring outsourced business in-house. Russia had a few online stores selling custom-made textile goods with digital print but no international internet platforms offering third party fulfilment . This gives local companies plenty of space for the future growth of direct to garment printing business.

Special thanks to Mikhail Shpilkin, co-founder of Digital Textile (Russia) Magazine who helped with the research for this article.

About the Author

Oleg Litvinov

Oleg Litvinov is a freelance business development consultant based in Brussels, Belgium.  He has been active in the printing industry for more than 20 years, specializing in Digital printing. Previously, with CREO, Oleg was responsible for the pre-sale analysis and support of Kodak distributors in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Baltic States and the former Soviet republics of Central Asia and subsequently negotiated Kodak’s largest contract in Russia. He has also held positions with Fuji Xerox and Canon supporting Russia and the APAC region. Leveraging this business experience along with an engineering background, Oleg has developed a strong track record for defining and implementing total printing solutions for customers.

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