Label converters and packaging converters both got important news recently from the world of color digital printing, that HP Indigo is installing the first of its jumbo electrophotographic presses for packaging, namely HP Indigo 20000 for flexible packaging and HP Indigo 30000 for folding cartons. These “beta” units are setting up or testing now with customers in Europe, North America, and Japan, and are significant for a few reasons:
Both HP Indigo digital packaging printers are built off of the same engine as HP Indigo 10000, over 90 of which have been placed for commercial printing since the “drupa” show in 2012.
Of the 29” web/B2 sheet fed digital presses unveiled at drupa for packaging, HP Indigo 20000 and 30000 are the first to ship multiple units, with a total of 10 betas by June now likely.
HP Indigo is the top supplier of color digital presses to the label industry, with likely a few hundred converter customers globally, many of whom want to expand into packaging.
For readers of Label and Narrow Web, the HP Indigo 20000 will be the more interesting of the two presses, because it’s a web press (HP Indigo 30000 for folding cartons is sheet fed, the same as HP Indigo 10000), and because it’s suited both for both flexible packaging, where digital printing has only a tiny foothold, and for label printing, where digital print is well established. The new press runs a 30” wide web, printing in CMYKOV colors, and also white, up to 29” wide (equal to the long side of a “B2” sheet), with a repeat interval of up to 44 inches. HP Indigo 20000 uses the same “liquid electrophotography” (LEP) as the narrow web HP Indigo WS4000 and WS6000 Series label presses, but its web is more than twice as wide. After a “priming unwinder” applies an aqueous primer to allow the use of off-the-shelf media, HP Indigo 20000 prints film, aluminum
What about label converters and flexible packaging? That application has been an adjacent one for label converters for a long time, but it has been barely tapped by users of narrow digital webs. HP Indigo has prepped the way for its wider web 20000, though, by fostering for several years the printing of flexible packaging on its narrow format HP Indigo WS6000 Series. Flexible packaging today is a profitable side application for some label converters using HP Indigo label presses, and it is also the main application for rare digital shops that specialize in flexible packaging. HP Indigo has helped things along, such as by qualifying film media for it from Avery Dennison and others, and partnering with Karlville and AB Graphics for finishing. Those first steps by HP Indigo and its customers into flexible packaging have helped set the stage for a new, much more productive digital press for that application, a system that will be of interest to many converters, including label converters.