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Mar 1, 2006 12:00 AM


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Digital Printing

The Hewlett-Packard vision is to be a recognized leader in the graphic arts industry,” asserts Steve Nigro, senior vice president and GM of HP’s (Palo Alto, CA) newly formed Graphics & Imaging Business. Speaking at the recent HP Graphic Arts Summit in Salt Lake City, Nigro expanded on his opening statement. “We bring to print service providers and creatives high-quality solutions that fit into their current print processes. Along with high-quality digital presses and wide-format output devices, HP offers robust, easy-to-use color management, workflow and storage systems. That’s why we believe HP will lead our graphic arts customers into the Digital Age.”

These words of optimism brought perspective to the meetings during the next two days, which focused on new products, customer success stories and HP’s strong involvement with the Sundance Film Festival.

Wide format for all
The first day of meetings emphasized the HP efforts to deliver a broad range of digital wide-format devices, a wider variety of substrates, workflow and ongoing support. Enrique Lores, vice president and GM of the Inkjet Commercial Division, introduced the first products to be launched as a result of the HP Seiko | Infotech partnership announced in late 2005.

“The new Designjet 8000 and 9000 series are key components in our outdoor graphics and signage strategy, which now covers wide- to super-wide-format solutions,” comments Lores. Tekgraf will partner with HP to support a solvent reseller channel.

The HP Designjet 9000 is suitable for signs and banners. The 64-inch printer handles 176 sq. ft. of output per hour at 720 x 720 dpi. Low-solvent inks enable a wide color gamut and produce durable color prints that reportedly last up to three years outdoors without lamination on uncoated vinyl.

The 9000 printer series comes with 1,000-ml ink cartridges and a heavy-duty take-up reel for unattended operation. Optional accessories include an HP Air Purifier System for air filtration and a high-speed dryer to accelerate drying time. Ink cartridges can be replaced on the fly. The unit has six heavy-duty piezo printheads with 512 nozzles per printhead for high-speed printing.

The HP 9000 also comes with cleaning and maintenance kits and a wide range of outdoor media, including Universal and Premium Scrim Banner, Premium Self-Adhesive Vinyl, Backlit film, and Universal Photo-realistic Paper.

The HP 8000 Designjet is an entry-level version of the 9000. Digital wide-format printing constitutes a $90 billion to $100 billion market (measured by the cost of output), comments Dov Ofer, vice president and GM of HP Scitex Industrial Division. “Twenty percent of jobs today are done digitally, but by 2008, 40 percent will be done digitally.”

Among the fastest growing applications are outdoor signage, with digital growth at 30 percent a year; indoor graphics, with total growth at seven percent a year; and POP displays, with digital growth at 60 percent a year. With HP’s acquisition of Scitex Vision in 2005, the product portfolio has been expanded to serve both entry-level and industrial markets.

The HP acquisition also reflects a trend toward consolidation in the wide-format market. In the past year, the industry has seen EFI purchase VUTEk, DS acquire Inca and HP grab Scitex Vision. In addition, Agfa has made stronger entries into the inkjet marketplace in late 2005.

Digital presses
HP’s graphic arts business is built on the success of its Indigo acquisition and the resulting product enhancements. “There has been a 40 percent growth of pages printed digitally between 2004 and 2005,” according to Alon Bar-Shany, vice president and GM of HP Indigo. “These pages are coming from short-run applications, personalized direct mail, labels, and specialty applications such as yearbooks and photo books.”

At the summit, Bar-Shany announced a new version of the HP Indigo 5000. HP now offers a version of the HP Indigo press 5000 in monochrome (1/0) configurations. Designed to print up to 16,000 iph, or 272 ppm, the new monochrome press is suitable for producing manuals, variable-data statements, transactional documents and other materials that require extensive single-color printing.

Upgraded press software, version 7.2, includes features such as divider sheets between jobs in job offset mode, support for multiple substrates loaded on press, faster stops when interrupting and switching jobs, and a reduced cold start time. Additional stackers can be added to a standard stacker to feed multiple paper stocks and allow loading and unloading of media while printing.

At Ipex in April, HP expects to launch an enhanced business development program, which will be welcome at the first Dscoop conference in Florida on April 27. Dscoop (Digital Solutions Cooperative) is, in itself, a newly launched organization for supporting Indigo customers in the United States. Although “Dscoop” is a rather inelegant acronym, the organization is supported heavily by HP. In fact, HP created it with the assistance of some of its customers. Reportedly, it was developed to provide support in developing new markets, profit opportunities and business strategies, as well as training. A special password-protected customer portal offers a variety of information plus the ability to order supplies and service online.

Online purchasing is an undertaking that has been long in coming for the graphic arts industry. Let’s hope that HP’s foray into this, even on a limited basis, proves to be so successful that other vendors will find it attractive.



HP at Sundance
With its comprehensive digital cameras, printers, wide-format output devices and digital presses, HP found the Sundance Film Festival to be a perfect venue to showcase its capabilities. From color postcards to large outdoor banners, both in Salt Lake City and Park City, UT, HP was the Official Provider of Graphic Arts at the 2006 film festival.

HP printed and produced much of the festival’s marketing collateral and signage on HP Designjet, HP Scitex and HP Indigo equipment. “HP has provided us with another way to expand our reach and the impact of our festival identity,” says Kelly Schaefer, Sundance Film Festival manager, graphic design. “The range of printing solutions has inspired us to push our creative boundaries.” (Creative it certainly was, but one can only wonder why the colors selected by the art directors were so murky. I suppose a festival for independent film makers needs to be supported by graphic designs created by “independent” art directors.)

HP’s photo experience was a clever idea that worked impressively. Sundance Festival attendees could stop by any one of four venues to have their picture taken and printed on the spot. And, if you had the time, you could have your picture taken at all four venues in order to enter a daily HP Snap 4 Sweepstakes.

The pieces are in place for HP to achieve its vision. The coming year will show how successful the message will be to the graphic arts industry. Stay tuned for updates.



Jill Roth is Special Projects Editor for AMERICAN PRINTER. Contact her at jill.roth@penton.com. Don't miss moderator extraordinaire Jill Roth at Variables, AP's variable-data print conference, July 24-25 in Chicago.