Keypoint Intelligence’s Worldwide Direct-to-Garment Forecast: 2020-2025

Automation, new applications, and faster speeds top the charts



Johnny Shell


Keypoint Intelligence recently released its annual Worldwide DTG Forecast for the years 2020-2025. The forecast includes printing devices exclusive to direct-to-garment (DTG) printing and covers a range of commercial entry-level through industrial high-volume devices. Also included are toner transfer printers used for direct-to-film (DTF) applications, a new and emerging area for decorated apparel. Market research and analysis of appropriate technologies available from OEM manufacturers and distributors, as well as other sources, provide additional cross-checks to validate and ensure that the market size and projections are consistent with existing statistics. The metrics that are tracked in the forecast include unit placements, sales revenue, print volume, ink volume, and retail value from among four main geographic regions: Asia Pacific; Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA); North America; and South/Latin America (SLA). The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) are calculated over five years (2020-2025) for the metrics reported.


Due to the range of DTG products in the marketplace, devices fall into one of four categories:

  • Commercial entry-level: Up to 40 light shirts and/or 20 dark shirts per hour; typically priced under $25,000 USD
  • Commercial: 41-80 light shirts and/or 21-30 dark shirts per hour; typically priced under $60,000 USD
  • Industrial: 81-200 light shirts and/or 31-80 dark shirts per hour; typically priced between $60,000-$150,000 USD
  • Industrial high-volume: >200 light shirts and/or >80 dark shirts per hour; typically priced above $150,000 USD


As more PSPs look to streamline and automate operations, web-to-print technology developments will be crucial. OEMs have added new automation technologies to complement their devices, and third-party providers of workflow automation continue to introduce software that integrates with web platforms like Shopify, Amazon, and Etsy to compete directly with OEM workflow solutions.


One example would be Kornit Digital acquired Custom Gateway, an innovative technology provider of cloud-based software for B2B and B2C business models and manages all steps of on-demand production. The platform enables content sourcing and creation, as well as content management. Orders created are captured by a robust order management system and are directed to the appropriate back-end production sites using sophisticated routing algorithms. Once orders proceed to the production floor, they are routed and managed to allow for efficient on-demand production on a mass scale.


The evolution of ink chemistries continues to expand applications on polyester and poly-blends using low-cure inks that reduce dye-migration. Additionally, improved pre-treatment and innovations with inline fixation have taken shape as OEMs continue developing solutions to reduce handling of blanks, pre-press steps, and overall print quality. A new application from Kornit Digital, called XDi, simulates embroidery and high-density prints by interlacing fixation-on-the-fly with white ink to build thickness and create 3D prints.


Commercial and industrial devices continue to focus on improving print speeds attempting to close the gap with industrial high-volume devices. While there is nothing available currently, models released in the next few years may forge a new category of commercial high-volume devices offering alternatives to PSPs that do not have the budget for an industrial high-volume device.


While global DTG print volume is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels in early 2022, total equipment revenue will not reach pre-pandemic levels as soon. By geographic region, North America equipment revenue will continue to see healthy increases while EMEA, Asia Pacific, and SLA equipment revenue is not expected to rebound to pre-pandemic levels for the next several years. Print volume will return to pre-pandemic levels quicker than new device placements. Industrial device segments account for the highest volume of prints, while representing the fewest amount of device placements. Global print volume is expected to be near 18% CAGR 2020-2025. Ink volume will reach over 2.9M liters by the end of 2025. Global supply chain disruption and labor shortages are adding to the uncertainty as to when these will return to pre-pandemic levels. Shortages or late shipments of consumables, parts, and garments continue to affect PSPs and it is unclear when these will fully recover. Keypoint Intelligence does not expect to see a return to normalcy until the global pandemic is under control.


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