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700 HP customers at Israel event – mazel tov

Wednesday, 21 February 2018
By Patrick Howard

Shalom from Tel Aviv: Roger Kirwan, Phil Rennell, Currie Group, Michael Gillis, HP Graphics, and Ken Williams.

One of the largest gatherings of HP Indigo print service providers (PSP) is spending three days in a deep dive into the company’s extensive digital printing portfolio at the company’s Israeli manufacturing and research site.

Four Australian printers made the journey; Roger Kirwan of Sydney-based Foxcil, Chris Zapris, of Melbourne-based PMI and father and son, Ken and Daniel Williams also of Melbourne-based Excel.

The huge troupe of printing industry professionals from all over the world testifies to HP’s status as the industry’s single largest technology supplier.The diversity of the PSPs in attendance showcases the company’s wide range of digital technologies across production printing and packaging. A number of new products were launched during the event including a new HP Indigo 6900 Digital Press, an upgrade to HP Indigo 30000 for folding carton production and the commercial release of the HP Indigo Pack Ready Lamination.

The chutzpah that informs such a massive event was carried off by the enthusiasm of the HP Indigo specialists on the day. From a basic 101 presentation of the foundation LEP technology through to the launch of the latest silver ink for labels, the power of electro ink was on impressive display.

With the theme of Print Anything, Be Productive, Stand Out, HP Indigo took to the central stage with assurance. During the packed event-filled day, customers, media and potential customers – half of the visitors don’t own an Indigo – were ushered in packs around the stunning manufacturing campus in Kiryat Gat. They thronged the press halls, the ink laboratory, the applications displays, and the technology fair of developing products. Demonstrators talked themselves hoarse in multiple languages, fielding the hard questions and explaining the technology in detail.

Alon Bar-Shany, head honcho of HP Indigo was a pervading presence, even among so many. He shared the limelight with Santi Morera, Global Head of Graphics Solutions Business, who reaffirmed the company’s innovation philosophy, which he believes is doing “what it takes to change an industry.”

While acknowledging the central importance of commercial digital printing, which is still the core business in this 25th anniversary year, Bar-Shany pointed towards the horizon of industrial printing, noting the company’s long-term commitment to digital labels since 1996, as well as its more recent engagement with flexible packaging and folding cartons.

Salutary to realise that it’s basically the same printing engine that drives the entire portfolio of presses, from commercial sheetfed up to high-speed publication webs, from the photo book market, which Indigo can claim to have invented, to security labels embedded with RFID. This is undoubtedly a major factor in the underlying strength and flexibility of HP Indigo.

While deadlines prevent an in-depth report of the day – for that you’ll have to read the next issue of Print21 magazine – certain high points are worth mentioning.

Ami Berger talked himself hoarse extolling the virtues of the silver ink released for the new 6900.

Undoubtedly the new HP Indigo 6900 Digital Press took the starring role. The latest generation in the best selling label series it incorporates a number of new features.

  • Pack Ready for Labels for the production of high-resistance labels for food, household, chemical, and pharma labels. Four beta sites are producing commercial jobs.
  • New HP Indigo ElectroInk Silver, now commercially available, delivers metallic effects across a wide colour gamut, similar to Pantone 877.
  • HP Indigo ElectroInk Invisible Blue and Yellow visible under UV light for brand protection and promotional labels.
  • Integration with the HP Indigo GEM embellishment unit, the first fully digital, one-pass label printing and embellishment solution for spot, tactile, foil, holograms, mini textures and lamination.

In addition, the high-performance digital front end, HP Production Pro for Indigo Labels and Packaging, now drives the press. It will be rolled out this year to the full labels and packaging portfolio. Featuring a five times faster RIP and the Esko Colour Engine, the powerful DFE provides extensive productivity and scalability for continuous digital production.

Now that’s an innovative business model

Changing the game is Jack Knott of ePac Flexible Packaging who shared his vision with Patrick Howard, Print21 Publisher, at the Kiryat Gat event.

Among the more stunning announcements at the event was the packaging press sale of ten HP Indigo 20000 digital presses to Colorado-based ePac Flexible Packaging. Jack Knott, CEO, the bluff, silver-haired founder and serial innovator described the operation as “trying to simplify flexible packaging.” Someone else described the 18-month-old franchise, where the owner operators buy 49% with ePac holding the rest, as “the Vista print of packaging.” The presses are for rollout across the USA coast-to-coast in new facilities opening in Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, and Miami and are in addition to the three already installed.

The idea is to deliver flexible packaging, mostly the rapidly growing pouch sector, to small-to-medium sized manufacturers in whatever run size they require, almost on demand. The impressive Knott reckons he can set up a packaging plant consisting of two HP Indigo 20000s, a laminator, slitter and pouch lines inside 90 days for a little over $3 million.

“Rapid turnaround time, low minimums, customization, graphics quality, and the ability to print to demand differentiate ePac from conventional flex pack converters. Printing is the core enabling technology we have built ePac on, with the HP Indigo 20000 serving as the foundation of our manufacturing platform. ePac’s collaboration with HP is fundamental to our growth strategy, as we look to adding ePac sites in the months ahead,” Knott is quoted as saying.

Tomorrow the focus for the small media contingent in Israel as guests of HP moves to Scitex for a look at the new corrugated inkjet press, the C500. With the first one currently being installed in an ‘alpha site’ in Israel the next is slated to go into Europe within months. Stay tuned.

However if HP Indigo, the original digital printing company, proved anything with today’s extravagant mediated chaos, a positive ballygan* at Kiryat Gat, it’s that it is still a powerhouse of innovation, playing the leading role in the digital printing industry and unlikely to be headed by the competition anytime soon.

* This is a Hebrew word used by Alon Bar-Shany. I’m told it comes up in Google in Hebrew, but without an English translation. Mediated chaos is the best I can do.

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