Brett Platt talks about his new role as Digital Textile Manager at CMYUK and the ongoing evolution from traditional screen-printing to digital

Brett Platt will be working alongside CMYUK’s Consumables Commercial Director, Michael Crook, establishing an R&D infrastructure that will bring new fabrics to market.
Brett Platt will be working alongside CMYUK’s Consumables Commercial Director, Michael Crook, establishing an R&D infrastructure that will bring new fabrics to market.

CMYUK has announced the appointment of Brett Platt as Digital Textile Manager. The new position reflects the significant investment CMYUK is making in digital textiles across soft signage, home décor and fashion markets. With over 20 years of experience across every element of textiles, Platt is unique in his skillset and in this new role he promises to bring something special to the UK market that doesn’t currently exist.

Talk us through your background Brett.

After studying Textile Design, I started working at The Dorma Group. I initially joined their design department, and progressed through the ranks to the role of Senior Creative Colourist, staying with the company for nine years. This was an exciting time in the industry as it saw the transformation from conventional screen-printing for design sampling to the first investment in digital printing using drum printers. Our team used the best digital technology available at that time to move design sampling away from costly conventional screen-printing. We used one of the first roll-to-roll digital printers in the market, a Stork digital printer with a TX1 Mimaki engine. It printed at a speed of 1 metre per hour. That may not sound much compared to the 90 metres a minute we can see today but it was a milestone in digital textile print history. It really helped to speed-up processes by sampling in digital and using reactive inks. I personally ran a project testing and developing one of the first wide format digital printers using pigment inks, developed jointly by DuPont and VUTEk. Bearing in mind this was more than 15 years ago, it goes to show that we were ahead of our time. 

In 2004, I joined RA Smart working across both their Print Bureau and Equipment Sales divisions. My responsibilities spanned most areas of the business; integrating textile solutions, customer demonstrations, installations and on-site training, supporting a range of both Mimaki and Robustelli printers. My role also entailed specifying and sourcing fabric across many territories; silks from China, cotton from the UK and linen from Belgium. I stayed with RA Smart for 11 years, before joining Think Positive Prints.

Based in Sydney, the business wanted to expand into Europe by creating a UK hub. I was contracted to establish a production facility in Macclesfield, which included recruiting and training staff, specifying and implementing the digital textile printers, coating, steaming and washing equipment. By 2017, I had turned Think Positive Prints UK into a business renowned for producing the highest quality digitally printed fabrics for the fashion and interiors markets. 

In 2017 I joined Hybrid as Textile Product Manager, responsible for developing the Mimaki textile printer portfolio. That takes me up to the present, where I am delighted to be joining CMYUK as Digital Textile Manager.

Do you think the digital textile market is changing?

Driven by improved equipment technology and ink, it cannot be disputed that the dynamics of this marketplace are changing. This economy is driven by reduced capital investment in stock, reduced deadlines and a market appetite for print on-demand – this mirrors many other printing sectors where the transition from analogue litho and screen-printing followed the exact same dynamic. We have seen this trend before. The shift only happens when quality and cost allow it, which is pretty much now in the digital textile market. It’s exciting as it means we will be bringing production back to Britain, back to the smaller outfits that can now offer print on-demand, making us as cost-effective as China and Pakistan.

So it’s on an upward curve?

Absolutely! The once prototype market has rapidly accelerated due to technological innovations from leading manufacturers such as EFI, Reggiani and Mimaki, offering printers that drive global digital textile production. With the lowering cost of digital ink, production runs are open to all. It’s a multibillion pound market that will continue to grow. Digitally printed textiles are expected to more than treble globally in the next five years as home décor and fashion producers embrace the benefit of multiple mini-season trends, as well as an increasing appetite for digital on-demand production.

What can we expect from you at CMYUK?

CMYUK has always done things the right way, at the right time. We aim to position ourselves as the leading UK provider of digital textile printing equipment and associated technologies, with an expansive digital textile material range that will enable customers to emulate the quality and feel enjoyed from traditionally produced products. The industry-renowned facility we have in Shrewsbury is unparalleled in developing and supporting customers to implement new technologies into production, showcasing best in class digital textile technologies that will perfectly deliver to the new market dynamics. We are poised to deliver a customer resource that doesn’t currently exist in the UK.

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