HP has advanced its digital printing capabilities for labels, flexible packaging and folding cartons with its new end-to-end workflow solutions and product enhancements that span the HP Indigo portfolio for labels, folding cartons and flexible packaging to help converters improve efficiency and accommodate high-value applications.

These announcements reinforce HPs worldwide leadership in the label industry (1), which is also validated by rapidly increasing installations of the HP Indigo WS6600 Digital Press at new and existing customer sites over the past year. Converters are taking advantage of the presss productivity for medium-run label and packaging printing, with print quality surpassing that of conventional printing. Of the added presses, nearly half stemmed from new HP Indigo customers (2). Interest from current customers also continued, with more than 20 percent of customer sites now owning multiple HP Indigo WS6000 series Digital Presses (3).

HPs momentum across the labels and packaging industry continues, with more than 50 companies around the world now producing folding carton and flexible packaging on HP Indigo Digital Presses. In addition, more than 100 customers have agreed to purchase the HP Indigo 20000 and 30000 Digital Presses, including 10 of the largest flexible packaging converters in the world and several multinational folding carton converters. First installations of the presses are planned for the end of 2013.

The new HP SmartStream Labels and Packaging Print Server, version 4.0, powered by Esko, is a solution for simplified colour management and automated job preparation. This new colour engine transforms existing processes by automating common procedures that are time-consuming. The result is quick and accurate colour management with fewer manual workflow steps required for efficient, high-quality printing. For added flexibility in file preparation, the solution also includes new imposition and variable-data tools, including dynamic marks. The transformation of existing workflows and procedures will allow for time savings of up to 70 per cent throughout the entire colour management process (4) and enable an average of 25 per cent more jobs per shift (5).

This new solution will be available in September at Labelexpo Brussels as an upgrade for all HP Indigo WS6000 and WS4000 series Digital Presses, permitting existing customers the ability to protect their investment in HP Indigo equipment.

To help HP Indigo users expand their range of applications, HP is working together with AB Graphic, Int. on new end-to-end solutions for label converting on a wide web. AB Graphics Digicon 3000, designed specifically to support the HP Indigo 20000 Digital Press specifications, will be integrated in-line with the press, allowing one pass for optimised production of labels and flexible packaging. Its modular design will enable users to produce labels and a variety of flexible packaging laminates. The solution will be showcased at Labelexpo in Brussels and will be available upon release of the HP Indigo 20000.

With the introduction of the HP Indigo 30000 to mainstream production, leading folding carton players are investing in complimentary technologies. New finishing products powered by TRESU Group and Kama will become available with the HP Indigo 30000 Digital Press in 2014.

TRESU Group, a leading supplier of coating solutions, will provide an in-line coater for the HP Indigo 30000. The Tresu iCoat 30000 will allow for both UV and aqueous post-print selective coating. Designed to match the HP Indigo 30000 capabilities, this in-line coater will offer an optimised process for the digital production environment. 

Kama recently unveiled a complement to its existing solutions for folding carton finishing. The newly developed stripping and blanking unit (SBU) (6) contains programmable rollers to strip waste and blank printed boxes without the need for expensive tools or cumbersome manual processes. The SBU joins Kamas DC 76 die cutter, a die cutting and foil unit with automatic registration camera for a complete, digital compatible finishing solution.

Comprehensive solutions that span labels, flexible packaging and folding cartons

As a result of rapid growth in digital print, ESKO will expand its digital front end (DFE) infrastructure to include dedicated packaging applications. Esko is a global supplier of integrated solutions for packaging, sign and display finishing, commercial printing and professional publishing. The DFE infrastructure will enable seamless integration of the HP Indigo 20000 and 30000 Digital Presses into the production workflow through the Esko Automation Engine.

(1) According to IDC market share data. 

(2) Based on HP internal data.

(3) Based on HP internal data.

(4) Based on HP internal data.

(5) Based on HP internal data.

(6) Patent pending.