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The Print-On-Demand Fabric Game-Changer

Bringing Imagination to Life Is Easier Than Ever with Print-on-Demand Fabric

Written Exclusively for Little Cocalico by Robert Zoch, formerly of Kornit Digital

For a long time, creating custom fabrics was a slow, expensive, and creatively restrictive process, making it difficult for the creative DIY-er to build a brand around custom designed fabrics. In this article we’ll look at the reasons for these difficulties and discover why print-on-demand fabric is changing this narrative, allowing even the emerging designer, hobbyist, and small business owner to have easy access to custom fabrics.

Barriers to Custom Fabric for Designers and DIY-ers

In the past, to get custom fabric, you had to pay by the color, and would need to order quite a bit of material to justify the time and labor needed to complete the job – a costly process which involved multiple machines. For the aspiring designer trying to start a business, this meant investing in a large roll of imprinted fabrics, with the possibility that a good portion of it may never go to profitable use. This reality thwarted many creative people from even trying and created a prohibitive burden on those who did try.

Traditionally fabric production and printing has happened overseas in countries where cheap labor and unethical or irresponsible practices (think textile dyes coloring rivers in Asia, unsafe or abusive working conditions, young children working long hours in factories as just a few examples) are prevalent. Sourcing from places like this isn’t a good look plus the logistics of overseas sourcing meant finishing the job – or even obtaining a quality sample – takes time. These long production cycles and shipping times are definitely not suited to a digital age and a high-speed marketplace. Throw in an international crisis, a labor shortage, strikes at the ports (or a bridge collapse that blocks the port 😳) and who knows when that material you’re relying upon will arrive?

How Print-On-Demand Fabric Is A Game-Changer

With all the barriers mentioned above, it makes sense why the rise of print-on-demand fabric, using fast, efficient, eco-conscious digital pigment printing technology, has been such a game-changer for the do-it-yourselfer (DIY-er) and the designer needing a reliable source to launch their own brand.

Digital print-on-demand fabric production gets rid of the excess time and waste that comes with mixing plastisol inks for screen printing, it eliminates the consistency or sustainability issues that are associated with reactive or acid dyes, and it removes the limited fabric compatibility of the dye sublimation process. Print-on-demand fabric with digital printing technology is produced nearly as easily as printing from your laptop to an inkjet paper printer. One machine, for any quantity, at the push of a button.

Lower Cost Of Entry

Freed from long setup times and minimum order quantities (MOQs), print-on-demand fabric means an accurate sample can be generated, without limitations of color or graphic detail, within minutes. It allows for printing on natural or synthetic materials (or whatever material happens to be available in a pinch) with consistent color and detail, regardless of the yardage needed. This removal of MOQs makes custom fabric much more accessible to the hobbyist, the individual designer, and the small business owner.

The efficiency of print-on-demand fabrics also eliminates much of the risk long associated with creating custom patterns. Fast, small samples mean more freedom to try new things, seeing which designs inspire or sell, and turning a profit with very little upfront investment. If you’ve been thinking of starting a new venture, or simply sewing crafts of your own design in your free time, what’s the harm in taking the chance if the cost of entry is far lower than it used to be?

Higher Quality

Print-on-demand also means higher quality control, with the complete process taking place in one location and requiring very few people to be involved in the process. In the case of Little Cocalico, customers have the assurance of knowing each imprinted piece was produced, packaged, and shipped by Jon and Jen themselves. Produced using versatile, state-of-the-art digital on-demand mechanisms, the impressions are durable, meeting the need for long-term wash, rub, and light fastness. These custom prints are made to last.

More Sustainable For Everyone

Digital print-on-demand fabric technology has opened the door to a new era of eco-friendly and sustainable practices in the fabric printing world. The inks and fixations used by providers like Little Cocalico are organic and certified safe by multiple authorities, for apparel, home upholsteries, and other applications fit for babies and small children.

Furthermore, because print-on-demand fabrics are efficient and carry a low, consistent production cost, print shops like Little Cocalico are able to fulfill designer needs right here in America, keeping good folks employed domestically. This also means the customer gets their finished material quickly, confident that the job was done in an environmentally responsible manner. There’s no worry about shipping bottlenecks slowing down the order, so you can be sure it’ll be in hand at the speed of Amazon.

By shrinking the time between order and fulfillment, creators are better able to predict their own costs and fulfillment times, and better able to create their own e-commerce operations. Everyone expects “see-now-buy-now” reactivity, and print-on-demand fabrics meet this new normal while delivering vibrant, uncompromising pieces fit for high-fashion garments, interior decoration, outdoor applications, sportswear, religious crafts, and other concepts.

With print-on-demand fabrics, made sustainably here in America by folks like Jon and Jen at Little Cocalico, the imagination is the only limit for bringing bold, durable, consistent creations to life!

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