Digital textile printing in Belarus and the US
By Madelaine Cornforth 14 December 2017
PSCube is a family owned company, established in 2016 as a small business based in Houston, Texas, US. It is a spin-off of the European company Evroflag, which has been in business in Belarus for over 12 years, being founded in 2005. This was Melnikov’s first investment into digital textile printing. The company provides high-quality textile promotional products including flags, T-shirts and home textiles.
PSCube manufacturers frameless furniture, known as ‘cubes’ for a variety of different markets such as exhibitions, shops, corporate facilities, hospitality, education institutes, gyms and studios, to name a few. The cubes are digitally printed in the US using dye-sublimation and direct printing on fabric. The company uses Mimaki and Roland digital textile printing technology with Epson print heads and inks from Mimaki and Sawgrass. PSCube, through its online platform, as well as creating its own designs, allows customers to create their own frameless furniture.
Ivan Melnikov, founder and CEO of PSCube, grew up around the printing industry. His father, along with some friends, founded a small printing company in Minsk, Belarus, when the USSR dissolved. The company, named Marathon, printed cards, labels and later flags. The flags were printed using screen printing.
After securing a Master’s degree in IT, in 2005 Melnikov followed in his father’s footsteps and founded Evroflag. With the intention to produce flags but in a more modernised way, Melnikov and his business partner invested in a digital printer and a heat press. Melnikov says: “Over the years the company merged with my father’s company. We print all sorts of things now and have produced the largest Belarussian flag ever created and, at 4,000 sq m, it is now in the Belarus National Museum.”
In 2010 Melnikov moved to the US, but travelled to and from the US and Belarus, with his business still based there. However, as oil prices began to fall in Belarus and its surrounding region in 2014, Melnikov realised he would be better off doing business in the US.
Having previously found success in digital textile printing, Melnikov decided to stay in the industry and founded PSCube. He says: “Over the years we used many different technologies. To produce furniture, we use dye sublimation and we are currently experimenting with UV and latex inks. We print on various fabrics, and we always look for new materials and technologies. We are curious about exploring new fields.
“We like both digital and non-digital printing but because digital printing is the process in which no permanent plate is created, it’s a fantastic technology for short print runs and unique sizes and substrates,” continues Melkinov. “For example, we designed a pineapple cube with a Roland logo on for Roland headquarters in the US.
“The colour range is also incredible, and digital textile printing is great for spot colours. A combination of digital photo camera, software and digital printing is a versatile marketing tool.”
Melnikov thinks the US is the ideal market for PSCube. He says: “Doing business in the US is fascinating after our tiny Belarussian and even Russian market. The US lets the company grow and, compared to Belarus, it is much easier to reach your potential in the developed, large economy of the US.”
He also notes the US’ love of custom-made products. The customisation trend has grown rapidly over the last few years, especially in the digital textile printing sector. This growth has been global, but with the size and spending power of the US market, it is a particularly promising arena for customised textile products. Melnikov says: “Customised products make up 90% of PSCube’s business in the B2B market. Printing is a communication tool and digital printing is a great communication tool because each message can be personal.”
In the future, Melnikov hopes to digitalise the business further than digital printing. He says: “My goal is to automate the business as much as possible, including the production process. I am excited about AI, IoT and VR/AR.”