Israeli firm Kornit Digital (NasdaqGS: KRNT) is fast becoming a leader in digital fashion, digital textiles and the on demand production and printing of garments. The firm has previously acquired 3D printing startup Voxel8 and demonstrated a 3D printing process for clothing. Now, Kornit has bought Tesoma, a German textile drying and curing machinery company. The firm has industrial continuous dryers for UV inks, compact cloth dryers, as well as all sorts of dryers and ovens for non-textile products.
“Kornit is writing the operating system for on-demand sustainable fashion,” Ronen Samuel, Kornit Digital Chief Executive Officer said. “Digitizing the production floor is a key pillar of our strategy and the acquisition of Tesoma will allow us to continue accelerating on our mission to transform this industry, with innovative and sustainable, never-before-seen, on-demand textile production solutions.” We’ve been working with Tesoma’s phenomenal engineering team on revolutionary product innovations and unique integration concepts, and I am very excited with our immediate and longer-term roadmap plans.”
“We are excited to join the Kornit team and be an integral part of its journey to transform the fashion and textile industry,” Andreas Irmscher, Manager of Design Engineering at Tesoma, stated. “As partners, we have been working closely together with Kornit on innovative next-generation solutions and we are enthusiastic to join forces, as one team, and accelerate Kornit’s mission to elevate the industry standard, with intelligent user functionalities and industry 4.0 connectivity. Together, we will heighten the market’s expectations for clean, efficient, automated on-demand production, with a fully integrated solution that yields a superior, brilliant impression every time.”
This further extends Kornit Digital’s product portfolio and gets them closer to being a one-stop-shop for all things textile. The company could develop smaller scale dryers that could readily sell to its installed base, especially if they could be used for UV prints and inks. This could broaden the functionality of textile processors to larger appliqué or could enable the production of stickers or highly-detailed prints for iPhone cases and the like. Industrial drying equipment doesn’t seem to be the most obvious first choice for Kornit, but it could very well grow their product portfolio while giving them interesting opportunities to cross-sell products.
While we focus on polymers and metals, there is an analogous digitization revolution ongoing in textiles. Simultaneously stickers and prints are replacing more manual screen printing processes. On-demand printing equipment is allowing companies and stores to be more versatile. Digital knitting is enabling more round, form-fitting shapes made on-demand and to size. Overall, digital weaving and knitting machinery is making new forms possible.
Textile businesses that go digital could be more responsive, proactive, and versatile. A fickle market could be tackled with a greater level of granularity using shorter, more accurate runs. In effect, Zara parent company Inditex has already done this by going from idea to store in eight days, then resupplying quickly when products are successful. Zara does this by managing its own supply chain and manufacturing close to its distribution centers. Without that same type of investment, digital fashion could make a clothing maker versatile as well.
Imagine just importing 10 different colored t-shirt runs from Vietnam, but storing them in Germany. Put hundreds of different prints online, but only print on the garment once the customer has ordered it. This digital process would combine low-cost production by hand with last minute digital printing. It would mean that you would have less fashion risk and could update your designs that day with your latest ideas. This kind of development is very close to what we are doing in 3D printing. At the same time, we can see that we and the digital textile world will collide at one point.
Everlane, Allbirds and others have brought woven uppers to market that have created a much wider design language for shoes. Woven or knit wool uppers also provide a lot of comfort and are low cost. Meanwhile we can be used to 3D print insoles and midsoles to the exact size of the wearer. If we could join custom woven uppers with variable density 3D printed insoles you’d have a truly unique shoe which is completely custom to the wearer. Even though I’m a noted shoe 3D printing skeptic, that’s a future that we can all get behind.