Fabric-on-demand pioneer prepares for global expansion, relies on one-step digital printing technology.
Spoonflower, Inc., a pioneer and fast-growing producer of on-demand fabrics, has purchased its fourth Kornit Allegro system. This fourth system will be the first unit to go into Spoonflower’s recently announced Berlin, Germany facility.
Spoonflower’s business model is driven by current market trends, with buyers of printed fabric looking online for ways to express their individual style and creativity. Based out of Durham, North Carolina (USA), Spoonflower is a leader in the on-demand production of printed textiles. Their website allows people from around the world to upload their own designs and print them on a range of fabrics which then can be used for making curtains, quilts, clothes, bags, furniture, dolls, pillows, framed artwork, costumes, banners and much more. The Spoonflower marketplace offers the largest collection of independent fabric designers in the world. Spoonflower’s average print run is just a few yards so the company depends on a printing technology that allows for the profitable production of a high number of very short ‘micro’ production runs on varying fabric types. Since Spoonflower’s founding in 2008, it has expanded rapidly; it now receives 2,000 orders every day, and the business has grown 50% in each of the past three years. Since taking delivery of the first production Allegro in the fall of 2013, Spoonflower’s success story has gone hand in hand with Kornit.
The Kornit Allegro, with its print width of 1.8m, is a single-step digital textile printing system that is designed for high-speed end-to-end production, using Kornit’s patented NeoPigmentTM printing process. The system features an inline pretreatment technology and works on a variety of fabrics, both natural and man-made fibers and blends. It is the only industrial textile printer available today that integrates all production steps in a single, integrated production line, removing the need for complicated pre- and post-treatments such as steaming and washing. In fact, it is the fastest way from digital designs to the finished fabric. Relying on Kornit’s proprietary process, textile companies and brands can shorten their turnaround times, cut intermediators and eliminate inventory cost. Because of its resource-efficient technology, saving energy and water, the Allegro is also a top choice for environmental protection.
“With the Kornit Allegro, the manufacturing process happens in one step. Essentially, it takes the entire textile printing industry and consolidates it into one machine,” says Spoonflower Founding Partner Gart Davis. “This allows us to deliver an e-commerce experience where we custom print a fabric to order in a timeframe similar to a vendor that is pulling a traditionally printed fabric from a warehouse.” Davis also praises the reliability of the system: “Our Allegros are running three shifts, seven days a week. And we have not needed to replace a single print head since the beginning of the year.”
Sarel Ashkenazy, Kornit’s Executive VP of Sales, is happy about the way the relationship has developed: “Digital roll-to-roll textile printing is a market with an enormous growth potential. The global demand for printed textiles is huge, and we are just at the beginning of the transformation from conventional to digital production methods. Still, it requires entrepreneurs like the Spoonflower founding team to recognize the opportunity, pick the right tools and develop a business model that works. We feel very privileged to be able to work with customers like Spoonflower.”
With Spoonflower’s success spreading to global markets, the company recently decided to open a second production facility in Europe, choosing Berlin, Germany, as the right place to go. Spoonflower announced in August that it closed a $25 million series A investment to fuel its global expansion. “The Kornit-Spoonflower partnership is very important to us”, said Davis. “Like us, they are very committed to enabling the transformation of textiles into a digital medium. Thanks to innovators like Kornit, we can all look forward to an explosion of creativity and choice in textiles and everything that is made with printed fabric. They are wonderful partners. We enjoy working together and are confident in their ability to support our evolving needs as we go global.”
As the world’s first Internet-based service for creating custom fabric, Spoonflower has been featured on thousands of DIY blogs and in publications as diverse as Martha Stewart Living, BUST Magazine and The Wall Street Journal. Making things with Spoonflower is also the subject of a new title from Abrams/STC Craft called “The Spoonflower Handbook: A DIY Guide to Designing Fabric, Wallpaper & Gift Wrap with 30+ Projects.” Triangle Business Journal recently named Spoonflower one of the Best Places to Work, and the company ranked at #1009 on Inc. Magazine’s list of the 5,000 fastest growing companies in the US.