A number of trends are today shaping up the global textiles and apparel industry, and sustainability and automation figure more in discussions over other trends. One trend, arguably not any less in import than those two, is digital textile printing. What makes it an extremely crucial factor, apart from its well-known advantages such as mass customisation and cost-effectiveness, is that the technology has a bearing on both sustainability and automation. Subir Ghosh looks at the bigger picture.

Sometime in January this year, a group of 20-odd people had gathered at a textiles facility in the Peenya Industrial Area on the outskirts of Bengaluru. The occasion was the inauguration of two state-of-the art printing machines that Fashion Matrix Overseas (FMO) had just installed. The sleek new machines had been purchased from Israel-based industry giant Kornit Digital and officials of both Kornit and FMO were visibly animated about the event, and what it would do to their respective businesses.

It could have been just another mundane factory event, had one not looked out for the specifics that lay hidden under the palpable excitement. Here was export house FMO going digital big time with some heavy duty investment, not to speak of Kornit Digital being a giant of a brand in itself. In less than two weeks, the machines had been installed and the staff trained. There wasn't a speck of dust anywhere, or any kind of waste for that matter. FMO was all set to roll, and steal a march ahead of rivals.

There was, of course, more to the event. Kornit Digital has been in India for only two years now, but already has 20-plus high-profile customers. Mind you, Kornit's direct to- garment and roll-to-roll machines belong to the higher end of the printing spectrum, and its success so far can be seen only as the proverbial tip of the iceberg. And the iceberg in question is digital textile printing.