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Kinetic Colorization returns jobs to US apparel manufacturing
Jun '11
A new demand manufacturing technology has created a new profit option for domestic apparel retailers and brands. Instead of depending on cheap labor from overseas manufacturers, retailers and apparel manufacturers can use this new short run demand activated coloring and printing technology. “New permanent coloration technology allows us to “change on the fly” and produce only the units that are actually selling,” stated Mark Robinson of Katmandu Partners LLC. Bringing this new demand activated color technology called Kinetic Colorization (very advanced form of sublimation) to the California apparel and fabric markets and was invented by Critical Mass.

Robinson goes on to explain, “Brands and retailers take huge risks if they manufacture their high profit specialty items overseas. These products usually have unique performance or visual features that front load costs. Mass manufacturing to lower cost creates too much inventory risk to offer these high profit garments and accessories.”

With very low minimum order limits and flexible “style contracts” Katmandu has a solved the dye, print and imprint forecasting risk and color matching that have limited some company's ability to design and offer products that visually separate them from their competitors.

“We are working with surf companies, active wear apparel companies, outdoor backpack companies as well as some of the specialty mills and the military with regards to coloring their fabrics. Fabrics colored include many of the Cordura® nylons and ripstop nylons' colored both single and double sided,” stated Brian Henry from Katmandu.

The goal of “Demand Manufacturing” is to shorten the supply chain to a response time that allows retailers to operate on a real time basis and project orders to match sales. Currently thousands of garments and accessories go unsold and the cost of these products must be added to the cost of the price of sold goods. The key to profits is not to make goods based on forecast but rather make the on consumer demand. The paint industry learned this lesson and now instead of stocking a vast array of colors, paints are colored in the store on consumer demand.

This new technology is poised to bring back textile coloring and more apparel manufacturing to California. With smaller runs being possible prior to large scale production and with the ability to test color, designers have a great deal more flexibility.

Kinetic Colorization technology is a revolutionary approach to permanent dying and printing. This process triggers the energy stored in high tech fabrics to create micro tunnels which move the dye through the center of the fiber without using water or toxic chemistry. Through the use of proprietary equipment both pass through color or pattern print coloration is possible. The process allows for a high degree of dyeing control, even thin fabrics can be dyed with different colors or pattern prints on opposite sides and theprocess uses no water.

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