HP Indigo Presses’ Productivity, Turnaround and Media Advantages Shine at Labelexpo Europe

BRUSSELS, 23 September 2009 – HP today announced new solutions and media partner initiatives that take digital label converting even further into mainstream production environments with the industry’s leading digital press solutions.

“The HP Indigo ws4500 and WS6000 digital presses give label converters and their customers greater flexibility, faster turnarounds and superior supply chain management and inventory control compared to analogue flexographic and offset label manufacturing,” said Alon Bar-Shany, vice president and general manager, Indigo division, HP. “These advantages, along with a complete suite of prepress, workflow and finishing solutions, have made HP Indigo one of the world’s best-selling press lines in the global label converting industry.”

HP is an industry leader for label and packaging presses, offering the most widely installed digital presses for the converting industry.  At this year’s Labelexpo Europe trade show, the HP stands – Nos. 9G65 and 9G70 – feature a number of solutions showcasing the value HP Indigo presses offer in mainstream label converting scenarios, including jobs requiring multiple stock keeping units (SKUs) and medium-run prime label production. HP’s exhibit and announcements at the show include:

  • the HP Indigo WS6000 Digital Press, in its first showing at a Labelexpo Europe trade show;
  • the industry’s best-selling digital label press, the HP Indigo press ws4500;
  • the launch of the HP Indigo Smart Planner for Labels, a comprehensive estimator and business planning utility that illustrates the wide range of jobs suitable for digital production, and a new Labels and Packaging Capture Business Success Kit;
  • agreements with Michelman for new DigiPrime® priming solutions that expand HP Indigo’s range of certified media and the development of a new training programme for HP Indigo and Michelman customers; and
  • the expansion of HP Indigo’s preferred media partner programme.

Fifty worldwide HP Indigo WS6000 installations so far in 2009

The HP Indigo WS6000 Digital Press is designed to be more cost-effective than analogue flexographic or offset production for jobs up to 4,000 linear metres (13,000 linear feet), a figure that represents approximately 80 percent of the jobs label converters produce(1).

With more than 50 installations worldwide since the product’s introduction in May 2009, including installations at many of the world’s leading label converters, the successful introduction of the HP Indigo WS6000 demonstrates the increasing migration of work from flexographic printing to digital printing.

HP is presenting the HP Indigo WS6000 in a “Tower of Production” demonstration on the stand at Labelexpo, highlighting the longer cost-effective run lengths, volumes and number of jobs that can be printed in an eight-hour shift as compared to conventional flexography. Working in production conditions to an eight-hour schedule, the HP Indigo WS6000 Digital Press, operating at a four-colour printing speed of 30m/min. (98 feet/min.), the press in the “Tower of Production” exhibit is printing a variety of labels on various substrates, recreating the environment at a typical label converter.
The HP Indigo press ws4500, a leading technology in the worldwide converting industry, provides cost-effective, high-quality production on jobs up to 6,500 linear feet. The press’ virtual elimination of make-ready and streamlined processes for changeover enable it to print a large number of jobs per month.(2)

Both the HP Indigo press ws4500 and the HP Indigo WS6000 Digital Press can be used for label, flexible packaging and shrink sleeve applications. Additionally, the HP Indigo WS6000 Digital Press can be used for folding carton printing. Prepress solutions from EskoArtwork, finishing systems from AB Graphic International and HP’s Business Development services will also have a presence on the stand.

New business development tools to help customers grow their business

HP Indigo Smart Planner for Labels, a new component in the HP Graphic Arts Capture Business Success programme for tools, training and business development, will make its worldwide debut at Labelexpo. Available free of charge to HP Indigo customers through the “My HP Indigo” online portal, this advanced job estimator and business-planning tool not only calculates the crossover point in terms of cost between conventional and digital jobs, but also models the business impact of adding digital capacity to an existing business.

The planner, an upgrade to the former HP Indigo Label Job estimator, offers estimating tools for complex multi-step applications that require additional calculations such as advanced finishing costs, warehousing and special discounts. Additionally, the HP Indigo Smart Planner for Labels has an option for importing actual job data from PSPs’ management information systems.

HP is also introducing a new Labels and Packaging Capture Business Success Kit that contains the tools necessary to expand new press owners’ knowledge of digital printing with HP Indigo presses.

The kit includes a comprehensive business development guide complete with examples of customer successes, practical business suggestions, as well as a variety of labels and packaging print samples. The kit’s interactive menu directs HP Indigo labels and packaging customers to the Capture website where they can access an array of additional tools that can be used to assist them in expanding their business.

Also featured in the HP stands at Labelexpo is the HP SmartStream Labels and Packaging Server, powered by EskoArtwork. A high-performance raster image processor, digital front-end and workflow controller, the server can reside in the prepress environment or near the press. The server offers highly efficient file processing, best-in-class colour control, robust bar coding, enhanced step and repeat and high quality variable data output.

The HP SmartStream Labels and Packaging Server integrates into a complete EskoArtwork workflow, also demonstrated on the HP stands. This including the newest version of HP SmartStream Labels and Packaging VDP Tools, a set of variable-data printing prepress tools for HP Indigo from available in scalable configurations to process simple or complex variable elements, including barcodes, numbers text and images.

Expanded media opportunities for HP Indigo labels and packaging customers

The range of media certified for use with HP Indigo label and packaging continues to expand. To date HP Indigo supports more than 500 off- the-shelf certified substrates for labels, flexible packaging, shrink sleeves and folding cartons, including specialty media that are not available for competing digital presses. More than 130 of these substrates are certified for the HP Indigo WS6000 Digital Press. HP Indigo’s certified media solutions are provided by dozens of label converters and media suppliers worldwide.  

At Labelexpo, HP announced that Michelman, one of HP’s longest-serving partners for solutions in the labels and packaging space, has developed a new media primer for its HP Indigo label and packaging digital presses. The new Michelman product is currently being tested and evaluated by HP Indigo’s R&D, and is scheduled for availability in early 2010.

The development of a new Michelman training programme for HP Indigo/Michelman customers wishing to bring media priming in-house will launch in Q4 of 2009. As part of the programme, customers will be advised on the different priming solutions and will be trained on media coating best practices.

Preferred partner agreements with leading label and packaging media suppliers UPM Raflatac, Avery Dennison Fasson® Roll Materials, and Innovia Films have now been expanded to include North America. In addition, HP is announcing new preferred media partner agreements with Wausau Coated Products for North America and MANTER for Europe. HP Indigo’s preferred media partners develop and certify media solutions to HP Indigo customers and work with HP in marketing activities to expand the label and packaging digital print market.

New finishing solutions for digital converting

On the HP stand, finishing partner AB Graphic International (ABG), a leading provider of finishing solutions for digital converting, is demonstrating a new entry-level product, the digicon lite, operating along with an HP Indigo press ws4500. HP and ABG are selling the HP Indigo press ws4500 and the ABG digicon lite together as a special bundled package designed for converters looking to make their first step into digital production.

The HP Indigo WS6000 in HP’s stand at Labelexpo includes in-line connections to ABG digicon solutions including a digicon varnishing unit, a digicon dual die-cutting unit and an automatic turret rewinder. The dual die-cutting unit enhances productivity by allowing users to set up one die while the other is operating, with the dies automatically switching when a job changes. It can be integrated with the turret rewinder, which can automatically separate different jobs on different cores. For flexible packaging applications, ABG will also have at the show a flexible packaging laminator that can be used in-line or off-line as a module with ABG digicon units.

Third annual HP Indigo Digital Labels Contest

HP Indigo, with its unique liquid electrophotographic printing process, is renowned for quality. In the past two years, labels printed on HP Indigo presses have earned best-in-show honours in industry quality competitions that also judged entries printed on flexographic and offset presses.(3)

HP will celebrate the best work of its customers during the third annual HP Digital Labels Contest for outstanding labels, shrink sleeves and flexible packaging printed on HP Indigo presses. With categories for alcoholic beverages, flexible packaging, food, health and beauty, household, industrial, non-alcoholic beverages, nutraceuticals, pharmaceutical labels, self-promotion, shrink sleeves, wine and other applications, the competition attracted a wide range of entries from all over the world. Winners will be announced at a gala dinner at the Albert Hall in Brussels on September 24.

More information about the HP Graphics Solutions Business is available at http://www.hp.com/go/gsb.

(1) HP internal estimates
(2) Based on HP internal testing under specific test conditions.
(3) HP Indigo-printed labels were best-in-show winners in the packagePRINTING magazine 2007 Excellence Awards and the Tag & Label Manufacturers Institute 2008 awards competition.