Print on demand is the environmental friendly printing system, which has developed with digital technology started in the reprographics industry has now moved into the textiles sector. We look at a range of systems and services that are providing the consumer an online platform to print their own products on demand. Offering a sustainable design solution and a creative interaction and participation for the consumer with their product.
Meganews, a Swedish company has created a print on-demand newsstand, providing an innovative way to print and sell a range of newspaper and magazine titles and currently testing it in railway stations, airports, hotels, shopping centers around Stockholm. Meganews is ironically moving away from the trend in tablet publication back to the real paper experience. The newspaper vending machine with Internet access prints, in real time, over 200 magazines and journals and takes just two minutes. This system is more environmental, saving on transportation and waste but also engages the consumer to be part of the production process and giving an interactive experience.
Image 1: Meganews
Yr Store, an innovative UK fashion company has set up the ingenious live print system and design app offering the consumer to create their own fashion from their touch screen – ‘Custom fashion at the tap of your finger’. Your design is printed onto a finished garment and dispatched within 24 hours. Alternatively you can go to the Top Shop store and design and print it while you wait and it’s even warm from the heat press when you put it on! Targeting the design savvy young customer, to have live interaction designing their own identity prints.
Image 2: Yr Store
Spoonflower, USA was the first user-friendly digital print bureau aimed towards the pro amateur and crafter who want to enjoy designing and printing small quantities of fabric at a very reasonable price with no minimum order. Spoonflower were early pioneers that developed an easy online system to upload your designs and create your own personal library to refer to. Using a limited range of fabrics with the focus on cottons they manage to keep the cost down to make it an affordable option. Spoonflower provides its customers weekly competitions and a democratic voting system as well as a shop to sell designs. This online connectivity has created thriving online communities, support and has aided to the growth of small cottage industries. Spoonflower’s business model has inspired many other small print bureaus to follow making digital textile printing affordable, accessible and inclusive to all.
Image 3: Spoonflower
Front Row Society based in Berlin has an online fashion platform using the print on demand onto a range of garments and accessories targeting the design savvy trend aware customer. Fostering an open design collective where you can respond to their design challenges, upload your design and winning designs get curated into the latest fashion collections which are sold through their online store. It allows the consumer to be at the forefront of the design process and express their individuality.
Image 4: Front Row Society
The Print on demand or ‘fast print system’ could be an antidote to the ‘fast fashion’ and offer a more sustainable solution to design and manufacturing. The consumer is becoming less passive and wanting more interaction in the design and production of their product. Print on demand reduces waste that mass production incurs and empowers the consumer to be more environmentally responsible. These new business models encourage participatory design and production giving the consumer the tools, support and skills to design their own garments and having a greater attachment with their goods. These issues are highlighted in Kate Fletcher's pivotal publication Sustainable Fashion and Textiles: Design Journeys (Earthscan 2014)