HP Plays for all the Marbles


Well-known member
by Noel Ward, Editor @ Large

It’s barely three weeks until drupa-tization begins.

One of the leading questions pointed at many industry folks these days is, “Are you going to drupa?”

People answering, “Yes” are promptly asked about how long they will be there and where they are staying. Those who say “No” are slightly envied, because they get to view the circus from a safe distance and don’t have to subject their body to the abuse of walking miles in crowded show halls, eating too many sausages, seeing too many demonstrations of products that may or may not actually exist, drinking too many beers, and hearing the drupa theme song at the opening and close of every day.

I’m twisted enough to actually like, and look forward to, a few days in Dusseldorf and seeing the ongoing transformation of our industry. Sure, it’s next to impossible to see everything I’d like to see and I can totally do without some parts of this shindig, but drupa remains an amazing testament to the power, persistence and potential of print, even in this omni-channel age with its need for instant gratification. And there’s no doubt that the intersection of print and electronic media will be on full display at drupa 2016.

The pre-show news keeps pouring in and there’s lots to do before my plane goes wheels up at the end of the month, so I’ll just give you a quick look at some of the things I’m hearing about and planning to look at while across the pond. This installment is all HP, and I apologize: it’s long on bullet points and short on detail but there’s just so much coming out in advance that there’s no way to cover it all. Stay tuned, and I’ll have more to say from the show, and there’ll be news available on the drupa microsite here at PrintPlanet. But for now, let’s take a look at some things that have been flowing in.

A really big booth
Continuing its quest to be the biggest and most impressive dog in the park, HP will be occupying a soccer-field-size stand in Hall 17, rolling in nearly 60 pieces (230 tons!) of equipment to show off their strength in the marketplace. Aside from making HP the largest vendor at drupa 2016, this collection of hardware and associated software is poised to point out new opportunities for helping place HP presses in places they haven’t been before. While many of the new machines will undoubtedly replace existing machines, this is still ultimately a game of pages and impressions (which is where consumable revenue comes from), not just the number of units on shop floors, and the new HP boxes are intended to garner a bigger share of digital pages. With that in mind, HP will be unveiling six new presses, all leveraging Indigo technology. Three words come to mind: Bigger, faster, and more versatile. Take a look:
12000: This evolution of the Indigo 10000 B2 size press will have an optional new ElectoInk primer to expand the range of substrates the machine can handle, including metallized and synthetic substrates. HP says higher image quality is also in the works with new laser heads, although those may not be immediately available.
7800: This is another product evolution, also with the ElectroInk primer options, plus its own enhanced print quality features.
5900: This replacement for the 5600 series and also comes with the new primer. HP has long been sensitive to its need for specially treated substrates and the new optional priming units being rolled out addresses this directly and adds versatility to the presses.
WS6800p: The latest iteration of the leading photobook production engine is setting up to further capitalize on a segment HP has been actively growing.
50000: Heading directly into the commercial space, this B1-size press is teeing up to take on yet another segment of commercial print. OK, it’s huge and HP probably won’t sell a lot of them anytime soon, but this size digital press draws a line in the sand and shows where digital print can go–or is going.
8000: Many converters admit that digital presses have the image quality to play in the label printing market but just aren’t fast enough. But what if you double the speed? That’s the game plan for this press, which adds a second print engine without doubling the sticker price. This is going to be interesting to see.

HP will also be rolling out a plethora of other enhancements including Fluorescent Pink ink, Enhanced White Ink, a very light black ink, and several software improvements to raise the bar on image quality and productivity.

But wait, there’s more!
HP will have enhancements to its existing WS 6800 label press and the Indigo 20000 web-fed flexible packaging press. There’ll also be a commercial version of the 20000 and the big 30000 sheet-fed folding carton press. And then… with older Indigo presses being replaced on shop floors around the world, drupa will be the rollout for a new series of refurbished (“R” Level) presses. According to HP, these are 5 to 8 year old and machines that come equipped with compelling pricing and full warranties. This is a smart move that’s likely to appeal to a wide range of print providers, including those who have long thought of Indigos as unobtanium.

Then there’s inkjet.
HP’s T-series “PageWide” inkjet presses continue to come in multiple print widths and target a host of applications, not the least of which is book production, but also encompasses direct mail and production environments. All now feature HDNA, or high definition nozzle architecture, for improved print quality. The company’s largest press, produced in conjunction with KBA, is 110” wide. I don’t have any advanced intel on what HP will have at drupa for inkjet, but I’m sure it will be interesting.

As of this writing, it’s just three weeks until drupa-tization begins. My schedule is filling up, and I promise not to spend all my time with HP in Hall 17. Say tuned: Xerox is next.
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