“The year went very well for us,” says Avi Basu, director of marketing and business development, HP. “It was a drupa year and all that it entails. In retrospect, drupa 2012 was the year of digital, where everything was going more and more digital at drupa. We not only saw a reinforcement of that in 2016, but we saw a lot more of digital for packaging. Everywhere you went, you saw a variety of new models, new concepts, new technologies–from labels to flexible packaging. Once people went to the show, we really had a strong second half and finished very strong in our last fiscal quarter, which ended in October.”
Since less than 4% of drupa’s attendees came from the US, Labelexpo Americas, held in Rosemont, IL, allowed visitors interested in learning more about HP the opportunity to get the drupa experience. HP found that many of the deals that closed at Labelexpo originated earlier in the year, specifically at drupa.
Digital continues to see a rise in the label printing industry. With SKU proliferation and more small business opting for short runs–to go along with customization initiatives by major brands–the interest in digital has grown.
HP also recently held an Open House at Century Label, which functioned as a beta site for the HP Indigo 8000 Digital Press. Over 30 people attended the event. “Seeing it in action in a customer environment is very different,” says Basu. “We had great feedback.”
The HP Indigo 8000 Digital Press runs at speeds up to 260 fpm in color while supporting 0.5-18 pt. substrate thicknesses. HP describes the press as “the most productive digital narrow-web label press in the industry.”
HP continues to see improved success with the HP Indigo WS6800, as well. “In the case of label printers, it’s our mainstream press, our black bear,” explains Basu. “We’ve sold more than in previous years, and I’ve seen some other data that says that that product alone is outselling a lot of other narrow web machines. It is clearly the standard, and we’re going to continue to enhance it.”
Proposed enhancements include a recently announced embellishment unit, which has started to ship for beta. This unit will give converters the opportunity to add post-print enhancements like foiling and stamping inline. “Being able to do this is a huge step forward and opens up a host of applications for our customers,” says Basu. “And for customers who have already purchased a 6800, they can add the functionality on a post-print basis. What you’re seeing is HP and its partners are really coming together to deliver what we call the end-to-end solution, with automation, clarity and predictability.
According to Basu, HP continues to see annual double-digit growth in linear feet for the label segment. “This is usually the best indicator of the health of the customers,” he explains. “Are they getting work? Are they running it through our machines? And the answer to that has been an emphatic ‘Yes.’”
In 2017, HP anticipates accelerated growth for flexible packaging, which will include wider web machines like the HP Indigo 20000 Digital Press. The new year will include another edition of Dscoop, which will take place in Phoenix from March 1-4, 2017, in the Phoenix Convention Center. Dscoop is the largest digital printing user group in the graphic arts industry, and 2017 marks the 12th edition of the event.
Basu expects the event to draw upwards of 2,300 people, including guests from outside the US. “We’ll have the whole HP portfolio there, with lots of customers and prospects in attendance,” he says. “A lot of HP executives will be there as well. One of the benefits is it’s not a contrived environment. You can talk to anyone, people who like us, people who love us, people who might not be very happy with us. It truly gives you an impression of what’s going on in the minds and hearts of customers and prospects.”
Dscoop will feature emcee Lior Suchard and keynote speakers Billy Beane, EVP of baseball operations for the Oakland Athletics, and John Foley, former lead solo pilot of the Blue Angels. This year’s featured speaker will be Doug Lipp, former head of employee training at Disney. The 2016 version of Dscoop, which took place in San Antonio, TX, USA, drew attendees from twice as many companies as the record-breaking conference of 2015 and nearly 400 additional attendees. It was the first such event that was large enough to be held in a convention center.