HP had sold its 200th Indigo 20000, the wider version of the Indigo label web press, just before the show kicked off and has no doubt secured a few more sales since.
But this is not the only trend, according to Alon Bar-Shany, general manager of HP Graphic Systems Business. “The 20000 is being used for flexible packaging, to print posters, balloons; some are using it for labels and sleeves and pouches.
“We are trying to take someone experienced in Indigo label printing to come and join the flexible packaging business.” His following point that this machine is not only for the expanding groups like ePac, was underlined by the presence of LabelProfi, the customer placing the landmark order – a 25-year-old business in Croatia that had evolved from a back bedroom business. Its customers, liking its service on label printing, had asked the printer to meet their needs for flexible packaging.
Flexible packaging is not the only direction. In the core labels sector, shrink sleeves are identified as the fastest growing opportunity, Bar-Shany says. Embellishment of the standard digitally printed label is increasingly practical. At Labelexpo it ran its own GEM finishing line with digital varnish and a Kurz DM Jetliner, and showed its own silver toner available on the 6900 series machines.
He also discussed the increasing need for covert and overt measures for verifying the authenticity of a product. The use of taggants for track and trace, of micro text printing, of security inks which respond to dark light. “We have been talking about it for years, now we see interest expanding though most users don’t want to talk about it,” and explains that a key driver is e-commerce.
Online retailers rely on the trust that consumers place in the products they buy. “In China a big part of anything printed on Indigo is security applications. It is a big issue for Amazon and Alibaba to prove that the products they ship are genuine.
“And security has to go beyond a single approach, brands need to use more of them and combine them, changing all the time.” This increasing interest has in turn led HP Indigo to sign up with Agfa to access the security print applications that the Belgian company has developed.
This is now the entry level to the HP Indigo range of machines and is geared towards shorter runs and labels where up to seven colours are required. The technology is equally at home with longer production runs, either on the wider web 20000 or on the 8000. “This is pushing us deeper into the flexo world.
It is not replacing the 6900, but is proving complementary to it,” he says. “Printers are buying the two for separate purposes.” And an increasingly diverse range of purposes.