Inside HP’s Digital Press for flexible packaging

PrintAction
April 19, 2018
By PrintAction
Roy Oomen / HP Indigo Category Manager, North America / HP Inc. / Atlanta, Georgia

What stands out about the Indigo 20000 in terms of capabilities for digital packaging?
RO: I think what stands out about the Indigo technology, in general, is the one-shot process on the packaging presses, and the same on the label presses. That means all of the colours are built up on rotation on a blanket and transferred in one pass. With most print processes you have multiple passes for the colours and the material may actually be contorting or changing because of temperature or whatever. We transfer all of those colours in one pass.

Why is Pack Ready important for HP’s packaging interests?
RO: We found a way to combine HP ElectroInk and laminate it to a piece of material, without an adhesive, and achieve a really high bond. And by the way, achieve it instantaneously. We call it zero cure time.

What typically happens in flexible packaging whether you are laminating a water-based or solvent-free or solvent-based sheet, you have a wait time that can be anywhere from a day, a day and a half, all the way up to five days.

How does the 20000 address spot colours and how important is ElectroInk White?
RO: With the Indigo 20000, we had two stations of white ink feeding into one ink tank because there is so much white ink being utilized… As far as ElectroInk and spot colours, it is really no different than any other Indigo digital press model. Most customers will often run orange and or violet on say 20 or 15 percent of their jobs. The great majority runs are on a four-colour process and when there is a need for a specific spot colour we have the ability to mix that and so we can achieve 97 percent of the Pantone book…

The system also has a spectrophotometer – as do all of the Series 4 presses, 12000, 20000 and Indigo 30000 – and we leverage that to make sure we maintain consistency. Most of the time when we have flexo printers come in [to HP’s Atlanta facility] they are blown away by the capabilities… There are just things we can do with photographic images, highlights, drop shadows and things of that nature that are very hard for them to do in flexography.

Can the 20000 leverage HP’s Enhanced Productivity Mode, with CMY printing?
RO: I worked with the narrow-web series at the very first beta site of Enhanced Productivity Mode, going back to an older generation of presses, and 20000 is no different. From my point of view, it is probably a capability that our customers could leverage even more… When you compare three and four colours, it is a 33 percent productivity increase. It is significant and all Series 4 presses have it.

What impact has the Indigo 30000 press already made on the folding-carton sector?
RO: I did the beta-launch agreements on the 30000, so I am familiar with it… We seem to do really well in a couple of areas: health and beauty, and pharmaceutical, so a lot of cartons where you can get at least a 4-up on a B2 press sheet.

And we have also seen a lot of adoption in the speciality-card business, loyalty cards, financial cards. We have a number of customers who have added second units, but in the beginning our customers had to learn a lot. In many cases, these were brand-new customers who were getting their first digital press.

What growth does HP see in the packaging sector when it comes to digital printing?
RO: We typically look at print volumes and I can tell you they are growing rapidly… When you look at the statements that Alon Bar-Shany [VP and GM of HP Indigo] has made, our vision is that label and packaging will become about half of our business and we are on this quest to become a multiple-billion-dollar business unit.

Our investment is deep… and you will see us continue to expand. For instance, I never thought we would be at a point where we could do retortable packaging, which we have been able to achieve now on the Indigo 20000 with specialty coating. It is very demanding flexible packaging.

Our customers see this investment from HP. Our expectations around packaging are high and that goes for all of the packaging markets – corrugated, flexible packaging, folding carton.

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