New Engines Target Traditional Presses Game changers from HP and Océ
Both HP and Océ have announced important new printing systems in early March. These products are game changers, and while some of them won't
be available until later in the year, that's OK. High-dollar digital
presses aren't exactly impulse buys, so planting the seeds now is a
good strategy even though the sales won't show up on the balance sheet
right away. Here's a quick look.
HP's WS6000 Digital
printing offers a number of advantages for labels and packaging and the
technology is offering real alternatives to flexo printing. HP's new
WS6000 is a label printing press that HP calls a game-changer in the
label and flexo printing market. It's not simply a matter of short
runs, but one of security and variable content addressing some market
needs. For instance, the ability to vary every label enables one-step
bar code serialization, where each label or package carries a unique
identifier that aids distribution tracking and helps thwart product
diversion and counterfeiting. Printing the label digitally makes sense.
WS6000 prints at 98 feet per minute in four-color mode on a range of
media spanning thinner flexible packaging substrates to folding carton
material. HP says it is more cost-effective than traditional
flexographic printing processes used for jobs up to 13,000 linear feet,
a figure that represents approximately 80 percent of label jobs.
Océ JetStream Family Goes Wider... and Slower Océ
invited some customers and a few freeloading analysts and journalists
to its Poing, Germany factory last week to roll out the latest members
of its JetStream family of ink jet printers. These included the 30"
wide JetStream 2800 and the JetStream 500/1000. There were other
announcemetns on the toner and software side, but I'll stick to the ink
The JetStream 2800 squares off against the HP's ink
jet Web Press announced last May at drupa. It relies on the same
technology Océ uses on its other JetStream printers and is intended as
a monochrome press with the ability to upgrade to four or five colors
using dye-based or pigment inks
One of the key target markets
for this device is book production, but not in the sense of the
ultra-short runs of titles produced on toner-based presses. Instead,
the 30" JetStream aims at offset replacement, offering publishers a
less expensive means of printing up to about 3,500 copies of a title
--well below the typical first-run length for an offset book press.
This range, explains Manfred Maier, CTO at Océ Printing Systems, can
help keep publishers from building inventories of books that only sell
in low quantities yet are normally produced in runs of about 5,000
copies to meet economical production levels with offset technology.
Both HP and Océ see this type of press as the next phase of the shift
in book manufacturing from purely offset to partially digital, and
eventually for certain types of direct mail and other commercial apps
such as newspapers and packaging.
As intriguing as the 30-inch
system is, I found Océ's new JetStream 500/1000 more interesting
because it addresses the needs of many printers and their customers.
First, Océ has dialed back the speed to fit operations with moderate
monthly print volumes. Next, unlike most continuous-feed print systems
which require two print engines to print both sides of a page, this
smallest JetStream can print both sides of a page in one pass through a
single engine. Field upgradeable from simplex to duplex, the new system
can also print up to six colors, one of which can be MICR ink. A number
of transactional and direct mail print shops I know have been thinking
this kind of flexibility and moderate speed in an ink jet device would
be a good fit for their businesses. It's going to be interesting to see
the markets' reaction to this as it becomes available.