Nearly 100 textile product suppliers and producers with an interest in digital textile printing gathered at the Wilson College of Textiles Sept. 30 to discuss the benefits that accompany this rapidly emerging technology. Keynote speaker Joe Quinn of Walmart spoke on bringing manufacturing back to America, and NC State researchers celebrated the official opening of the College’s new digital textile printing lab. All of these events comprised “Digital Textile Printing and the New Supply Chain: Innovations in U.S. Manufacturing – The Walmart Initiative to Rebuild the US Textile Base: Onshoring / Reshoring of Manufacturing”.

Digital textile printing is gaining momentum as a competitive solution and an alternative to traditional textile production methods. Adoption of this technology is driven by several factors including a desire by stakeholders to offer more customized on-demand products, reduction of inventory, and increase in sustainability and a positive environmental impact.

Conference presenters discussed:

  • The advantages of using digital textile printing for U.S. textile manufacturing and sampling
  • How to reinvigorate and rebuild a strong domestic fabric and textile products complex using direct digital textile printing as a way to produce textiles to meet market demand
  • How value chain suppliers and stakeholders can shorten the supply chain, bring product to shelf in less time, and transition from inventory to demand driving the sale
  • Environmental and competitive advantages
  • The business case for onshoring/reshoring

Joe QuinnKeynote speaker Joe Quinn is senior director, Public Affairs and Government Relations for Walmart. He is focused on a major Walmart effort to bring manufacturing and jobs back to the United States. The company has committed to buying an additional $250 billion in American products during the next 10 years.

The day also included a ribbon cutting to mark the official opening of the College’s Digital Textile Printing Lab. This 2,600-square-foot, on-campus, digital print, cut and sew facility was able to be completed thanks to a 2014 grant from the U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund, created by Walmart, the Walmart Foundation and the U.S. Conference of Mayors. The Fund focuses on the development of domestic manufacturing with a specific goal of advancing the production or assembly of consumer products in the U.S.

Experts at the Wilson College of Textiles at North Carolina State University have been collaborating for years with print and color science professionals and textile solutions provider to advance digital textile printing technology and find ways to effectively integrate digital printing with cut and sew. The new lab space significantly improves their ability to pursue these goals.

Read more about NC State’s Innovation Fund project.

The  event also allowed ample time for attendees to network and make valuable businesses connections. Representatives from various textile product suppliers and producers were on hand to discuss their services and products.