After more than a dozen years of solid technical development and intense marketing activity, digital color printing of labels is taken more seriously. A few concerns about the true cost of ownership and consumable costs remain, but HP Indigo remains as bullish as ever, especially where its European sales are concerned. With its six-color liquid ink presses maintaining their 2006 momentum, HP claims to be one of the top three vendors of label presses worldwide. As a rough guide, the monthly number of digitally-printed pages increased to an equivalent of 90.1 million A4-format pages, with HP’s web-fed ws series presses accounting for 71.5 million pages in October 2006 (the final month of HP’s financial year).
Besides changing market trends, HP Indigo says a key reason for the popularity of the ws series is an ability to print PSA labels on many paper and film substrates, as well as film based shrink sleeves and flexible packaging. Repeat sales have certainly helped. For example, Geostick of Uithoorn in the Netherlands plans to install a further five HP presses to print flexible packaging and PSA labels. It already operates three HP Indigo presses, including the first European ws4050 installation in early 2005. It will install the new presses in a new extension. Geostick has nearly 100 employees and operates 11 flexo presses with full finishing facilities.
“Geostick’s investment in HP Indigo presses not only demonstrates the company’s commitment to digital label production, but also the market trend toward shorter runs, on-demand and variable data printing,” says Enric Martinez-Abarca, EMEA industrial business manager, Indigo Digital Press, HP. “Geostick also exemplifies the complementary relationship between conventional and digital technologies in fulfilling customer requirements.”
Other recent European installations of ws4050 presses include one at Jung Bonbonfabrik in Vaihingen, Germany, for producing flexible packaging for confectionary. Label Imprime, of Carros in France recently printed up to 45 jobs in a single day on its new press. Inotec Barcode Security of Neumuenster, Germany, uses a similar model to complement an existing variable data numbering and bar coding and print full-color logos. The first ws4500 in the UK went to Springfield Solutions in Hull for producing labels, shrink sleeve and flexible packaging. It also runs a ws4000. In Spain ws4050s have been installed by Barcelona based Aplicaciones del Papel y Etiquetajes and Etiquetas Macho in Seville. Eshuis of Dalfsen, the Netherlands, has a new ws4500, while nearby DIOSS of Ghent in Belgium installed the sheetfed s2000 to produce high-value speciality products.
Nissa Group, HP Indigo’s distributor in Russia, reports strong sales of its products, digital front ends, software, and finishing systems. Apparently, attitudes in the printing industries in Russia and its former satellites towards digital printing are less entrenched as they are in many other parts of Europe. This makes it easier for printers to adapt to the changes required for this form of production.