HP's Indigo Division Posts Record Monthly and Annual Page Volumes

Print service providers worldwide deploy digital presses to meet 'peak season' demand for photo specialty items

BARCELONA, Spain, 31 March 2010 - HP today announced that continued HP Indigo customer momentum has yielded double-digit annual page growth, as well as a 47 percent increase in photo specialty page output during the 2009 peak season, compared to the same three-month period in 2008.

HP Indigo customers collectively printed more than 10 billion four-colour, A4 pages in 2009 - a 13 percent year-over-year increase that led HP to a seventh consecutive record year in total annual page volume. This growth reflects the continued high demand for digital colour print applications amidst an otherwise challenging time for print service providers (PSPs).

In addition, HP Indigo customers made December 2009 the most active month for page volume in Indigo history.

"HP Indigo's best measure of performance for last year is the way we helped customers grow in one of the most difficult economies the graphic arts industry has ever faced," said Alon Bar-Shany, vice president and general manager, Indigo division, HP. "New-generation press models and ultra-efficient workflow and customer-support solutions significantly boosted our customers' productivity, enabling them to print more while lowering their relative total cost of ownership."

HP Indigo presses are commonly used to produce marketing collateral, personalised direct mail, colour books and publications that have the true look and feel of analogue offset print. HP Indigo presses are also among the world's leading solutions for label printing.

Snapshot of success: photo specialty growth creates best month in HP Indigo history

Photo specialty printing - including the production of greeting cards, personal calendars and photobooks - is the fastest-growing vertical segment for HP Indigo. HP Indigo presses are the main production devices used at many of the world's leading photobook manufacturers.

In FY 2009, HP experienced a 30 percent year-over-year increase in press orders for photo applications. Many of these orders took place in the second half of the fiscal year as PSPs prepared for the photo specialty market's annual production peak - the October 1 to December 31 time period when consumers order photo specialty products for the holiday season.

Monthly HP Indigo impressions for both the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region and the Americas region passed the one billion mark for the first time ever last December, making December 2009 the most productive month ever in HP Indigo history.

In the Americas region, one company, Seattle, Wash.-based RPI, produced more than 15 percent of total HP Indigo print volume for the region while serving as a photo specialty fulfilment partner for businesses like Blurb and Snapfish by HP.

"Manufacturing advances such as the HP Indigo digital press are revolutionising printing and production by making quantity one print-on-demand affordable for the main street consumer," said Rick Bellamy, CEO of RPI.

High uptime and reliability are key requirements for success in the peak season, with many photo specialty customers operating their presses 24 hours a day through the three-month time period. To ensure continued customer productivity, HP augmented its worldwide service teams for the peak season with 50 personnel from division headquarters sent to work in the field with customers.

In 2009, HP Indigo 7000 users had the added benefit of HP Indigo Print Care, a new suite of advanced diagnostics and troubleshooting tools, status summaries and remote communication offerings. HP Indigo 7000 Digital Press users experienced a significant increase in press uptime in large part because of the Print Care solution, which is now being implemented in the HP Indigo 5500, W7200 and WS6000 models.

Driving more pages with HP SmartStream

Upgraded HP SmartStream workflow solutions released during 2009 streamlined customers' prepress, file management and image-processing activities, driving more pages to HP Indigo presses.

HP SmartStream Director, which became available in May, provided PSPs with new, efficient web-to-print capabilities along with end-to-end workflow management. HP SmartStream Designer, an advanced tool for variable-data imaging and job impositioning, received updates to support the latest versions of Adobe CS4 and QuarkXPress software.

For the YGS Group, a York, Pa.-based PSP that also runs offset presses, streamlined HP SmartStream workflows, along with HP Indigo presses' reliability, productivity and high quality, make digital the most efficient and profitable printing method for a significant amount of existing client work. The YGS Group is now positioning itself for further growth in digital with its recent addition of HP SmartStream Director, which will allow the company to offer custom online ordering interfaces for its clients.

"The YGS Group's HP Indigo presses have enabled us to transition a sizable portion of our work from offset to digital," said Craig Rineman, digital operations director, The YGS Group. "Digital printing with HP Indigo technology is our ideal solution for many types of static-print jobs, plus it opens new opportunities with offset-quality versioned and variable-data work."

An updated version of HP SmartStream Labels and Packaging solutions improved label converters' workflow operations while providing better variable-data imaging and colour management tools. The mid-2009 release of the HP SmartStream IN100 Production Plus Print Server provided tools to simplify new customers' transition from offset-only printing to hybrid offset and digital production.

New HP Indigo web-fed presses make their debuts

Last year also saw the commercial launch of the HP Indigo WS6000 and W7200 digital presses. After it became commercially available in March, HP installed 70 WS6000 presses worldwide in fiscal 2009 as label and packaging converters took advantage of the press's financial benefits. The press is designed to be more cost-effective than narrow-web flexo on up to 80-percent of the label jobs converters typically produce.

The HP Indigo W7200, which was introduced in Q4, is one of the world's most productive offset-quality digital presses for the printing of dedicated applications demanding the true look and feel of offset. Designed to produce up to 7.5 million A4 colour images, or 30 million monochrome A4 images, per month, the HP Indigo W7200 helps PSPs drive profitable growth in on-demand and short-run book printing, personalised colour direct mail, high-value transpromotional statement printing and other applications.

The HP Indigo W7200 press has achieved significant successes in the book market, enabling "long tail" print-on-demand publishing applications as well as replacing high-inventory, high-waste offset book print operations with more-efficient digital print production. Worldwide installations include:

  • Mercury Print Productions, Rochester, N.Y., which installed an HP Indigo W7200 with Hunkeler's Roll2sheet line to produce teachers editions of educational books.
  • Paro Printing, Eindhoven, The Netherlands, which installed an HP Indigo W7200 with a Lasermax solution to print both book covers and book blocks on one press for Blurb and other publishers.

In November 2009 New Zealand's largest communications management group, Datamail, ordered a pair of W7200s. The two new presses have been installed at the company's new Auckland facility to print millions of transactional and transpromotional mail items daily.

"For 20 years we have been the major player of outsourced transactional and direct marketing communications," said David Allen, general manager - Product Management, Datamail. "Ultimately we see the transition to full-colour digital print as an extension of our commitment to leadership in communication management. In choosing the HP Indigo presses we are doing more than just replacing offset shells, we are expanding our ability to rethink the documents themselves and the communication they contain."

In September, the HP Indigo W7200 Digital Press won a Must See 'Ems award at the Print 09 trade show, one of several certifications and awards the division and HP Indigo customers received last year.

Most recently, book manufacturer Connekt Colour won the British Book Design and Production Award in the "Best digitally printed book" category for the HP Indigo-printed title, God's Cook Book: Tracing the Culinary Traditions of the Levant, by Jamie d'Antioc. In addition, HP Indigo users earned several first-place awards for digital printing in the Tag and Label Manufacturers Institute's 2009 Label Awards competition.

Last year, the HP Indigo 7000 and 5500 models earned FograCert Validation Printing System certification under the ISO 12647-7 standard for the use of digital data in proofing output. And, in February 2009, the HP Indigo 5000, 5500 and 7000 models became the first digital colour production systems to earn General Requirements for Applications in Commercial Offset Lithography (GRACoL) certification.

Continued environmental stewardship in digital printing

HP Indigo also achieved important environmental milestones last year, including installation of a new 50-kilowatt rooftop solar power system from SunPower Corp. at the division's main manufacturing plant in Kiryat Gat, Israel. Featuring the highest-efficiency solar panels available today, the system provides clean solar power to the division's press manufacturing lines.

Sony Corporation, a company that certifies the environmental characteristics of inks used to produce its print collateral, awarded the HP Indigo ElectroInk manufacturing plant in Singapore "Sony Green Partner" status in 2009. The designation validates HP Indigo's ability to meet stringent environmental criteria and gives HP Indigo-equipped PSPs the ability to pursue new business opportunities as print suppliers to Sony.

More information about HP Indigo presses is available at www.hp.com/go/GSB, as well as through the HP Graphic Arts Twitter feed.