Valencia, Spain-based Rafa’s Textiles personalizes t-shirts and all kinds of clothing with screen printing, direct (digital) printing, silicone transfer, sublimation, and even embroidery, serving a broad range of businesses and organizations.
“Our sector has been significantly reduced because we are very oriented to the world of advertising rather than fashion, and there are no parties or events—sports or otherwise. Yet we are taking more customers, especially customers who sell on the internet…and direct printing has really increased compared to last year; in fact, that’s why we recently acquired a third printer.”
Having built an operation around traditional analogue production processes, Rafa’s determined the agility and versatility capabilities associated with digital production were necessary to meet the needs of their customers, as well as adapting to the types of sudden market disruptions that reached peak prominence in 2020.
“When a customer asks you, for example, to produce twenty garments in three, four, or five colours in silkscreen printing, the cost is very high, because you have to make five screens, and it would take us a couple of hours, maybe three, doing it very fast,” says Sergio Alfaro Lloret, Technician at Rafa’s Textiles. “With a Kornit, those shirts are printed in less than twenty minutes.”
After evaluating the market for digital textile print technologies, Rafa’s invested in two Kornit Avalanche HD6 systems, which supplement traditional CMYK-plus-white ink colour schemes with red and green, for a wider colour gamut and greater colour-matching capabilities.
“We chose the Kornit system mainly because of its pre-treatment system, which increases production capacity,” says Lloret. “The most important factors are pre-treatment, colouring, and speed. When we found out about this new system whereby you put the shirt on and the pre-treatment was done inside the same machine, we immediately thought the time saving was enormous.”
“Kornit has the patent for printing on wet paper, which nobody else has,” he adds. “The quality is even better than screen printing, and Kornit’s inks are 100 percent water-based. They are totally ecological, so everything is perfect. We haven’t found a better print system anywhere; right now there is no one in the market that can provide that final result as Kornit does.”
Rafa’s Textiles serves European-based B2B clients who sell via web stores, both integrated with Amazon and independently. Each of them is integrated with Rafa’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, producing a workflow that typically amounts to 200-300 orders daily. There are no colour limitations, and handfeel and durability are retail-quality. With digital production capabilities in house, these orders are printed individually within 24 hours and shipped directly to all customers.
“Kornit Digital has helped us considerably to increase our business because we have opened up to other types of customers who were beginning to hear about this type of new printing technique, here in Spain, and then we have been able to redirect many other customers who used to work with silkscreen to this type of technique,” says Lloret. “Many orders of small quantities were impossible with silkscreen printing because they required a very wide base cost, and the production is much faster with digital than with screens.”
COVID-19 disruptions have had a profound impact on the business
“Our sector has been significantly reduced because we are very oriented to the world of advertising rather than fashion, and there are no parties or events—sports or otherwise,” says Lloret. “Colleagues of ours who are not working via the internet, their businesses have fallen between fifty and seventy percent, which really is a lot.”
Rafa’s Textiles, however, has weathered this storm better than most, which Lloret attributes to their focus on e-commerce, where buyers have increasingly turned for their needs in this new marketplace.
Meeting the challenges of the e-commerce era
“What sets us apart [in 2020] is that we have printed more t-shirts with Kornit than last year, and it is all because of the COVID issue,” he says. “We have always moved through the internet, and we are taking more customers, especially customers who sell on the internet, and direct printing has really increased compared to last year; in fact, that’s why we recently acquired a third printer.”
For Rafa’s Textiles, implementing Kornit’s digital production technology was simply the best means to meeting the challenges and capitalizing on new opportunities of the e-commerce age.
“We always adapt very well to the needs of our customers,” says Lloret. “With this system, we can print a single full-colour shirt as if it were a photograph without any limit—and now we are also opening up to the private sector, because there is a very wide market we are not taking advantage of, and with the Kornit Avalanche, we can.”
He concludes: “For anyone who is today considering the options of using Kornit printers or other brands, it is clear Kornit has no other type of competition. There is no one who can match them.”