In this ‘Over the Skype’ session, you can hear more about Twine Solutions. Twine is an Israeli company that has specialized in digitally coloring yarns that can be be used for almost any applications thinkable. Product Marketing Manager Aviram Vardi explains very well the amazing opportunities and why this still is just the tip of the iceberg in digital print.
Great conversation – enjoy!
This is Morten from INKISH TV, and we are back with yet another episode of Over the Skype.
I know that it’s been a while since you got the pleasure of watching me, talking to good friends around the world, and this time we’re going back to Israel.
We’re going to meet Aviram Vardi, who is working for a very, very exciting company in Israel. It’s not exactly a startup, but I think they still consider themselves a little bit a startup because they have gotten very good. Maybe you saw that on Print Sample TV a couple of years ago, but the company is called Twine and they do individually, digitally colored yarns. And Aviram, why don’t you tell a little bit more about who you are and what Twine does?
Thank you very much for the opportunity, first of all. My name is Aviram and I am Twine’s Product Manager, Marketing Manager as well.
And, just a little bit about myself before we start, I am working in Twine for the last two years. Before Twine, I worked in the professional printing industry. So my whole professional life, I was an engineer in a multidisciplinary portfolio, which means there’s a lot of software and hardware and chemistry and physics involved in all of my world.
I’m a product specialist, and after being a part of the revolution, digital revolution, in the printing industry: watching how the conventional goes digital, I was offered this opportunity to join Twine by the founder of Twine Alon Moshe, who invited me to manage the product here at Twine, and join another digital revolution, now in the textile industry.
And I found it amazing, and I’m so happy to joining in so, here I am.
A little bit about Twine..
So, let me ask you a question before we go to Twine, because now you introduced yourself also as this. Because, just before we turned on the recording, you said to me that one of the things that surprised you a little bit about entering from the graphical market to the textile market was the size of the market. So what, you were taken away, blown away by the size, right?
I came from an industry which is considered among the big, one of the 10 biggest ones.
Now, it moves every year between the size, obviously. And I thought it was a huge industry.
I traveled the world from China to Mexico and I saw sites, well, huge in Germany, in Spain, and the volumes of material and people working in that industry. It blew my mind.
And I thought it was a big industry. And suddenly I joined the textile industry and I said “what! It’s even bigger!”. And not that it’s even bigger, it’s more complicated.
The amount of media you need to handle in order to get the product, the variety of processes that you’ve got. It’s 10 factors bigger than the tech industry, but it’s very similar in the process lifecycle.
So it was easy for me to penetrate this market personally and professionally because it’s very similar. It’s just 10 times bigger, and more complicated, obviously.
But, one of the things that I was so curious about when you say that, I think that you know, if you look at the printing industry, obviously the commercial printing industry has suffered quite a lot during the past years, and a lot of newer industries like the white format, large format also… the corrugated, the packaging, label, everything is moving, and I think that also sometimes ink is…
I think, you know, we are a main considered channel for the printing industry, maybe less for the textile industry, right?
But the reason why I was very curious about talking to you was also because I think a lot of printers are looking towards, you know, delivering… it could be garment print, it could be a textile print in general.
So, do you see this is starting as a kind of a crossover between industries?
Obviously, yes. Because when it comes to direct to garment and direct to fabric, at the end of the day, it’s a different media. Once you solved the issue of how to apply the ink on the media, why do you care about the media?
OK, it’s the engineers’ problem to solve the material tension and all of that. But conceptually it’s the same, you know.
Now, if you visited ITMA, obviously you did, you saw the huge section of the printing company that came in. If it’s HP, if it’s BOBST, if it’s MS from Italy, if it’s Durst from Germany and more and more companies.
And if I obviously and yes, there’s a huge overlap.
So that’s why I said it for me, it was quite trivial to go in because I understand it.
At the end of the day, the pain points are in the supply chain and I’ll even give later more examples.
And if digital can solve something, it’s the supply chain.
Because the T-shirt I’m wearing and the fabric I’m wearing, it’s the same fabric: I will use it the same way. It’s just what happened before it came to the retailer or to the brander or to the store that is really the story here.
And again, this is exactly what we’ve learned and now we promote : the major change is behind the scene. And then we’ll talk about… a little bit about the iceberg in the digital textile industry today. For me today, it’s an iceberg, and if you want to know why you need to ask exactly how I see it later on.
I don’t want to wait. I just want to hear it now. So why you don’t, tell me?
It’s funny because I used the iceberg as the finale because… look, digital exists in the textile industry. There are dozens of companies, if not hundreds today that are moving to digital.
I gave some of the names earlier, but there are also more, I would say more trivial companies.
You have Browzwear, then you have CLAW and you have DMI and you have Swatch Book. And I can continue if somebody… if I forgot somebody I’m sorry, and there’s CLAW and there’s so many… and Optitex!
I’ll continue, I’ll remember more! At the end of the day digital exists.
So the design is there and the 3D is there, and the only problem is that they are the tip of the iceberg. To be honest, the textile industry itself is beneath the water.
Okay, all the production, the dye houses, the cut and sew houses, the knitting houses: this is what you don’t see. And today, except for several companies. We said them earlier, but they are literally nothing. You know, you’ve got SPG and all of that. But there are small, small portions o, 10 times small in portions than digital in the graphic artist.
And this is beneath the water.
And that’s what we change. We literally bring something which is not on the top of the surface, to design digitally. Obviously, it’s… how do you do it differently? You have to go there, but to manufacture something, a part of the supply chain which will become digital, well, that’s new.
And the direct to garment and direct to fabric brought it a little bit. A little bit.
And we, in Twine, understood that this is the change that will come.
So to be the first, it’s always a pleasure, you know, to revolutionize something. It’s a big word. I don’t like to use revolution, I… and even if you’ll go to the website, our website, you don’t, you won’t find revolution. Everybody: “we wake up, we make a revolution”: no.
The change, the change must come from the inside. And we want to change that. We want the brand that until now had to spend time and money and waste it in, you know… I’m not even going into sustainability, just time and money, because they wanted this type of purple and they got this type of purple and I don’t know if you see it in your camera, but…
I can see the difference yeah
… But the difference between the two, you understand it today, it’s only the ph in the water, for example. And we can solve that. We can literally stop it and get it on time. That’s a change. That’s a healthy change because it’s coming from beneath.
One of the things that I can’t help thinking of, is, you’re probably familiar with the concept of New Print. I spoke to Ron Gilboa and to Frank Romano at Print in Screen when we talked about these books and the things.
And the two gentlemen were quite funny because they said that, well, new print, we talk about new print, as, you know, print to fabric, print to garment products like Twine and, you know, these kind of things, but I think it was Ron Gilboa from that, he would work with Keypoint intelligence at that time, he said: “well, it’s not really New Print, it’s just because we move it to digital”, because as you said, that all the things under the iceberg have been done conventionally since hundreds of years. Right?
So it’s more because the technology allows us to solve some of the issues.
For example, the environmental issues, the excess stock issues, the supply chain issues that you spoke about and all those kinds of things, and I think that is really what also is maybe the reason why some of the printing companies who used to work on paper are now also looking into it because, as you say, the methodology is pretty much the same, right?
It’s identical. Not the same. It’s identical. It’s literally copy paste. You don’t need to do more than copy paste. The challenges are bigger.
If I thought when I came in : Oh, what’s the problem? Let’s take the ink, we know the ink, let’s put it on a fiber instead of on a paper or a PET. Now, the challenge is I’ll begin, first of all….
But, that is because it’s the first mover thing, right? Because if… as soon as you have got the trick under your skin, then it’s not difficult anymore, right?
No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. That’s the challenge. That’s the big difference. If I can say that there is one big difference between these two industries, it’s the physical or the product challenge.
The product is much more challenging. The media is much more challenging.
The ink, there’s much more regulation. If you thought about regulations of ink migration or into food, think about gushing into the skin of your baby. The regulations are much more challenging here.
Not to mention the conditions : a soda bottle, you will buy with the label stands in the supermarket in their condition.
Right? But the cost, it’s in the sun. Now, I’m not talking about Germany when you have two days of [sunhill]. I’m talking about Israel, you have thirty six… thirty three hundred sixty days of [sunhill]. So the challenges are much higher in this. But conceptually copy paste, for sure.
OK, so there is a huge market opportunity and I think that Twine has, you… I mean, you are, as far as I know, you’re the only one that did sew yarns aren’t you?
No, not the only ones. There is one other company, and companies are trying to do it on fibers directly, but we are literally the first company who managed to do it for a wide range of media.
As I told you earlier, if I would take one type of yarn and there are hundreds, OK, there are hundreds or thousands, even, and I would build a machine that is focused on one type of yarn with one type of physics and one type of chemistry, it’s doable.
But then you have no solution because the smallest homegrown shop, you know, mums and pops, that is doing embroidery, they use literally five to six types.
So even for them, it’s not the solution.
We did came up with the first machine that is agnostic.
I don’t care today if you manufacture your yarn, you know, the whole yarn in India, in Turkey, in Germany. I don’t care, the system doesn’t care about it.
I don’t care if it’s a filament yarn or it’s a spun yarn, if it’s a core spun, if it’s a multifilament or a monofilament. So this is the secret.
The secret is to give a solution to the market and a machine that literally you can take white yarn, you see, there’s a white yarn. I don’t know if you see behind me…
… going into the system and going out with any color you selected with zero knowledge in physics, zero knowledge in chemistry: this is an industry 4.0 solution.
You can literally take your phone, send the colour info to the system and you dye it. So without any knowledge in dye staff, in chemistry… And you know the printing industry, you need a lot of it.
A five minutes course on the application here will give you the best mustard dye in the world and your quality result of yarn is equivalent to somebody who has been doing it for thirty years so, that’s a revolution.
Yeah, but that was actually why I was talking, because, or asking because I mean, OK, then you are few digital suppliers in that segment of the textile industry.
But that is like the first mover advantage you get because, I remember the first time I heard about you, I hardly believed that it was possible to do. So I remember, you know, I saw that yarns that were changing color or all this, all the lanes, and how it was woven into two parts that simply didn’t exist in my mind.
And that opportunity is like moving a complete new, as you say : one thing is to change the existence of existing fabrics and existing technologies, but another thing is that when you move things to digital use, you suddenly get an opportunity to create completely new types of products as well. Right?
Yes, I agree. Even if today you were working with the most advanced supplier who can do some kind of special customized space dyeing and control the color or the dye after.
These are super, super complicated and sometimes or in many cases, are not worthwhile. Nobody will do it. They are very expensive.
And then comes a machine that: by programming it to the right way, because you have the design, we can connect ourselves to a design software. If you have designed a 3-D model of the color changes and you understand the array of the yarn, put it in the system, tell the system “from meter to meter dye me this”. I can give you an example of a sock with it.
And it doesn’t gradient change. Why? Because I know that there are literally 0.6 or 1 gram of yarn there. I know when it starts. I know when it ends. And I can take the call to change along the way.
So, yes, it also allows you to do more because you would not do that. It’s not worth a while to do it. Even if you do, can do it today, manually, literally not worthwhile: too expensive for a product that you’re selling five bucks.
OK. Nobody will invest five bucks in the manufacturing of a product cost, its selling point. Nobody will do that. But we offer that.
And the capability to do something like that without… again, I’m going back to the supply chain because that’s where the money really is buried.
You want to do this? You know how much it will cost you to design it, to test it, and then to to approve it.
The cost cycle of these things is…. and that’s when digital comes into the picture. And this is the magic of digital. All of this cost disappears.
No, Morten, it’s a bulk product or a simple color, or a spot, I would say color for a brand or if it’s crazy design that you want to do a campaign… something unique: there are hidden costs.
And you don’t think about them today because we have no alternative.
You said, we are the first one. So yes, we are the first one to literally provide a solution that will change your cost aspects.
And if you look at it from… one thing you said, talk about the supply chain. And I would like to dig into that in a second. But you say that it goes from even from small volume to bulk volume and where is the breakpoint of going digital versus analogue? .
So this is challenging. If you are talking about a product like a sports socks and the majority of them are white because that’s what we like, the feeling of clean : you have a logo, you can do bulk logos, for sure. Bulk logo is 0.3, 0.2, 0.6 grams, it’s nothing, and you can do bulks with them.
When it comes to a shirt, a shirt is a 100 and… for example, my polo shirt is 120 grams and that’s polyester and semi-sport. I like it.
What can we do?
This one, this is only for sampling. Where’s the tradeoff. Pending product. Pending yarn.
This is a very challenging question because one kilo of this type of yarn will be something like 50 kilometers, one kilo of a logo yarn for a sport bra will be around twenty five kilos.
And that’s what I said. You know, we talk about the graphic art. It’s nothing compared to the complexity of every day with the textile industry.
The breaking point is per application.
Just one example if you’re talking about leather goods : bags , shoes, definitely production.
Now you’ve got five, six, seven meters in a shoe. Definitely production.
Again, when I’m going back to shirts, jackets, it’s sampling
The reason I was asking is because, I mean, the thing that I’m always interested in when we look into new technology is obviously also the business potential because one thing is the supply chain, because, I don’t know if you saw that, but we made an interview with your colleagues from Kornit when we were in Israel a couple of months ago.
And as they said, that the price points and the time and, you know, the KPIs are similar to what you’re talking about. Right? Right.
And I think that for the people that watch this episode and hopefully reach out to you and where they’ll be more interested in knowing how they can get on board with you guys is, you know, to understand where, how should they look at it?
Because if you invest in an offset press or a digital press for paper, you know the business model, you know everything. So I’m just trying to help our customers and audience to understand a little bit on what they should look into when they are in, you know, evaluating whether a Twine way could be interesting for them to dig into, right?
Your question is loud and clear. I would start by putting aside for a second the R&D, because that’s everybody or developmental sample making, because the value there is clear, and I’ll give you an example later. I’ll go for the production.
This is the first generation of the product.
The capacity is not enough for the majority of the textile industry. Again, the volumes in the textile industry are crazy high and it’s not enough for production. Where is it enough?
It’s enough when I am doing specific applications, when I am a shoe manufacturer, when I am an embroiderer, when I am a leather bags or leather goods or if I’m in haute couture, definitely it would suit you for your production because the volumes are small.
And we can answer these needs and the speed of production will be enough and by decent planning, you can go wherever you want.
If you are talking: Is this enough for production of sportswear in Sri Lanka today when they manufacture for the big ones? Definitely no. This will be the next generation.
But we also don’t aim there, you know, you need to know how to walk before you know how to run. Even the almighty HP Indigo to begin with. I remember the segment of label in a HP Indigo. They started with labels for, you know, small [breweries]. That’s it. That was the capacity, nobody did production with them!
And see where it took them, right?
And see where it took them: one of the leading segments. I remember there was a year that HP Indigo alone sold more label presses than the entire three largest suppliers in the market.
Yes there was a year when they sold more than the three largest. So understanding: where, can we go with that? But obviously, this is the first generation TS1800. It’s our first.
It is limited into the world of production. It is fantastic if you manufacture small batches or campaign or Haute Couture, definitely you can use it for production.
So in those examples, is that like, the fashion houses themselves who invest in the Twine or… who is the typical customer of this?
Today our main… we see our two main customers now are the brands themselves : fashion houses, the brands themselves. They use this as their supply chain problem solver for R&D and sampling.
I’ll give you an example. A minute before the Covid broke in, I visited a very large manufacturer of lingerie in France.
There are several so..
We can’t guess, right. We could just know France, right!
A small country like France. So their daily life is that: if they want to manufacture a bra, is that… they need to order in advance a yarn. And let’s say they didn’t go for a general or generic black or white, they went for the fashion colors. Last year, it was coral and they went for the coral. Okay.
And they order in the specific bra, two types of yarn. One was the decoration, the Zig-Zag and one more for the overlooks and the stitches and everything.
And they order the same color, the same shade. And it took them a week…
Now, first of all, there is a minimal order quantity, so instead of getting 100 meters for the test, they’ve got a box of 50 kilometers. So they’ve got the box. Let’s say they don’t care about the box. They paid for the box while they could pay for their 100 meters.
Let’s say they don’t care about it.
They waited eight weeks to get these two boxes because it’s not a card catalog colloid. It’s a specific custom made color. There are brands, they have their own shades. They waited eight weeks. Not only that, they waited something like eight weeks, they got two different shades.
Because it’s two different yarns. And you know what? At the end of the day, they didn’t make a hassle of it because they need to go to production. Eight is enough time to say, wait, I don’t have room for mistake.
Now, imagine walking with Twine. They took… they could have taken two white yarns. One was spun, the other one was filament. Put in the machine, choose the same catalog color and get it in a matter of minutes. So, just try to understand.
And even if the color is not the color they wanted, there’s no penalty. They just went back to the machine, said: “I want a little bit more orange, or darker”… and they got it a minute after! And this is what we offer today with this machine for the brands.
So you asked about the brands. Any type of brand, any type of brand: from Haute Couture to daily life, can benefit from that because it changes the supply chain of R&D, of sample making of safe simple making. Definitely every type of thing.
And when it comes to production, then you need to do this differentiation between small batches, campaigns, personalization.
Now with the bulks, that it’s less for them today except for small bulks, which suits perfectly fine.
So great opportunities. How did Twine, as a company, get started and how old are you? And how did you get along?
So that’s an easy one. Twine is five year old.
Only five years old?
Yeah, yeah. You said earlier we’re not exactly a startup, but we also, we do see ourselves as a startup. Sometimes Israel is, you know, people call Israel the startup nation, relatively to the amount of people who live here in Israel, yes, we have a lot of startup companies.
We are not a startup anymore. We have a product. When you have a startup, you have a concept. You need to…
I have to apologize because when I said startup, it was positively meant because it was more like sometimes, you know, sometimes, you know… Ekis is six years old. But we still consider it as a startup because it has this positive of always being adaptive to the market and the changes and being agile.
Ah! If this is the reference, we are definitely a startup. We came with cutting edge technology, everything is in-house. We learned that there are solutions in the market today : it does not suit us. For example, inside the machine, it’s not ink-jet. It’s our own treatment chamber, because we understood that if we want to be, as I told you earlier, yarn agnostic, we need to develop our own solution: there was nothing that could answer this in the market today.
So, five years ago, two brothers, Alon and Erez Moshe, the founders, who has a small, small thirty five years experience in the printing industry…
Oh, only thirty-five years!
…only! Yeah. They were both alone. Our CEO came from Indigo, was one of the main developers back there, in the days, and Erez is owner, more than owner if I’m not mistaken, of a very large printing house.
So both the R&D and both the industry coming together and then, you know, being so innovative and so into the industry, they came up with a question: why not textile?
So… and they said : wait, there is already textiles. You know, you said Kornit. Kornit is an amazing company!
And so there is already direct to garment and direct to fabric. But what’s behind it?
What about direct to yarn or something like that or direct to fiber. So they did some studies and they understood that there is a need for that.
And they need it from all over the market, all over the world. And they started this alone with our CEO, decided to go into a very DevOps kind of company; it means that we are production oriented : we manufacture a system which is reliable and stable and very mature in our approach. As you can see it doesn’t look like a toy. It’s a machine.
Looks like a real machine.
Like a real machine. And that was the concept to begin with.
That for, he hired a lot of professionals. I don’t think that in this company, except maybe for the students we have here, there is somebody who is less experienced than at least a decade.
And most of us are coming from EXJET, from HP, for AVT, from Scodix, from Kornit…. So yeah, a lot of us are coming from this industry of printing and multidisciplinary because to create something like this in such a short time and doing it with real product, with real value.
And again, as I told you, not something which is a niche but a product that I can go today to the largest brand of leather goods. I can go today to the largest brands of sportswear and with the same, same speech, and I can sell them. And this is a solution for all of them.
In order to do that, you need maturity.
And I think he did it really wisely because he could have done it… I would say more.. faster or more… or less reliable or…. But he didn’t.
We have five people who are PHD in the company, working on this. A startup company with five PHD! Nobody is investing so much money to do something. So. Yeah..
So just out of curiosity, because I mean, a five year old company and you have a product that already has a business record. I was just wondering because one thing is that with engineering and the amazing amount of people from different companies with different skill sets, but how to get it to market, because one thing is to manufacture and develop the prototypes and get it, you know, the nice plastic covers and everything like that.
Are you getting attention from the market?
Are you already breakeven or how far are you to that from a financial perspective?
So, I cannot tell you if we are breakeven because I don’t know. Sorry!
That was easy, that was easy right?
Yeah. I wish I knew. No, I’m not too much into the finances so I…
OK But…I was just about to say that you don’t have to say about the finances. I was more like, you know, one thing is to get the product and get all the research about the potential in the market. But do you also get it out working in the market because that is, you know, eventually that would make you breakeven. So that was more my question.
The system is installed, the system is working. The system is already working in production.
We have passed a lot of a test.
You know, such a new product. Think about the brand, very high-end brand, and they need to replace a product which is working for you. And suddenly they come and say: “let’s replace it!”.
It doesn’t work this way. It doesn’t. We have been tested and evaluated by so many institutes from Spain to France to Germany to Turkey. And we passed all of these testing criterias, which means that the product is already a product.
And yes, we have already sold the machine and it’s already working in production lines. I cannot tell you that in all of them, it’s 100 percent coverage of the entire production line.
But definitely products are out, products are being used.
We have specific campaigns that people now got because they could do some unique stuff with us.
And so, we are pleased. Obviously, we wanted more. Everybody wants more. But I can tell you that I am depressed and we didn’t penetrate, no…
You don’t look depressed Aviram.
No. No. What I wanted… you know, if you asked me, and I remembered that in ITMA, I’ve been in several Drupas and Drupas is always busy and.. a lot of potential prospects. The amount of attention we got at ITMA, which is the Drupa of the textile industry…
That’s the one in Barcelona, right?
I’ve never… I never saw something like that. Never ever saw so much attention. We’ve got so much attention. And so many people came in.
The largest brands, you know, the largest manufacturer you ever heard of, and the ones that you never heard of, who actually manufacture for the largest brand you heard of, all of them were interested in this solution. Now, as I told you, we are a very responsible company.
We do not plan to sell hundreds of orders next year or systems next year. No, not at all. We know where we are going. We’ll sell a dozens of units, yes, but very particularly because we want to give support and there is an application support.
We came from the world of application support. We know what the right support is and we plan to do it. And we have a nice assembly of a customer support and application team because every time you move with a new product, you need to remember that there are people who are going to use it.
For me to use it? It’s a game. It’s a toy. I can use it like that. But you need confidence.
So even it’s easy to use : you need to be confident in its use. And we know how to bring this into the table again with all of the experience we have from all of our past companies. And this is where we will help and we know our customers, in this exact aspect.
Very, very exciting. And time flies by so fast, so Aviram… I just want to thank you very much for taking time to talk to me here over Skype. It’s been a pleasure. I hope to meet you in real life someday. I hope to see your equipment maybe for some customers in the progress, that would be fun, but thank you very much.
Thank you very much for your time.