Digital domination
Printing News
Digital domination

Years ago, Indigo founder Benny Landa declared, “Everything that can go digital, will,” and that someday Palo Alto, CA-based HP would occupy a larger booth than Heidelberg. His prediction came true at Graph Expo 2010: HP had the largest exhibit of any vendor, digital or offset.

While overall volumes have been flat or down, HP customers have printed significantly more pages this year. Collective page volumes on the HP Indigo 7000 series grew 90% year-over-year for the first three quarters of 2010 vs. the same time period in 2009. “People are printing smarter, with targeted, high-quality output printed on demand with less waste, more streamlined supply chain processes and a reduced environmental impact,” says Christopher Morgan, senior vice president of HP's graphics solutions business.

There are now 20 HP T300 Inkjet Web Presses (40 engines) installed worldwide, 12 of them in book manufacturing. “[The T300] is delivering, as we speak, on the vision of its launch three years ago,” says Aurelio Maruggi, vice president and GM, inkjet high-speed production solutions, imaging and printing group, HP. While most book manufacturers are going roll-to-finish, all mail producers are opting for a roll-to-roll configuration on the inkjet web, he says. MICR capability is now available, as well as numerous coated papers.

“The economy is accelerating the shift to digital,” says Maruggi, noting that long-run jobs are growing longer while the mid-range is fragmenting into multiple shorter runs. And many hybrid offset/digital jobs are now going straight to digital. “We are seeing the trends we predicted in publishing and mail production — reducing waste and finding new revenue — are more important than before.”

HP is seeing the “print and pray” book business model evolve into a just-in-time process, with publishers cutting inventory and waste while bringing more titles to market. French book printer CPI's sweet spot averages 7,000-8,000 books on the T300, according to Maruggi. T300 users are able to offer multiple short runs of a title over time,allowing publishers to respond to market shifts.

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