Tag Archives: HP

HP Delivers Seven New Digital Presses, but One Steals the Show!

A printing-related announcement from Israel is not something your local news conglomerate would cover, but to me it was the best news I’ve heard in a while! Two weeks ago, HP Indigo announced it will debut a 29″ Indigo seven-color digital press this May at Drupa (the world’s largest printing equipment exhibition, held in Düsseldorf). What this means in short is that any traditional commercial printing application can be reproduced digitally on this machine. If you follow the link above, you will also find that HP will be introducing six additional presses to its lineup along with the new 29″ Indigo.

Maybe I’m alone in this quest for a larger-format digital press, but I doubt it. Over and over again I find myself returning to traditional sheet-fed offset equipment because of the size restrictions of current digital equipment. Pocket folders, six-page brochures, oversized posters––the list goes on. Well, look no further––HP and Indigo have created a product that can (and I think will) take traditional offset off the market.

The HP Indigo 10000 Press is not just any digital press. It touts Indigo’s seven-color, mineral-oil based liquid toner system that can provide a much larger color gamut than the traditional four-color process. You have a choice of the standard four-color process, a six-color process, or even a seven-color process with the addition of white ink. Or, for the brand police out there (provided you have an Indigo ink mixing station) you can custom mix any non-metallic PMS color to make the most impact while dealing with a brand color.

It’s the innovation and commitment to quality that HP and Indigo have that keep them at the forefront of the market. They heard the cries for help and have delivered a product that no one thought was even possible. Now I just can’t wait to get my hands on the first press on US soil.

Author: T. John Mehl

Are Laser Printers Really as Bad as Cigarettes? Depends on How Many Trees You Burn!

In a recent study conducted by the Queensland University of Technology, researchers have found that laser printers release harmful amounts of toner into the air during normal printing. What is concerning in this study is that almost all of us are sitting in an office just a stone’s throw away from a laser printer. While not all laser printers release harmful amounts of toner into the air, no report has shown what makes and models are worse than others. Now we just have an additional area of concern when buying a new laser printer.

I have been saying for a while that printers using plastic-based toner have reached their highest possible quality. In order to increase the image quality, the toner particles would have to become smaller. Making these particles smaller would result in more airborne particles and lead to a greater health risk. Little did I know that the current toner particle size was already affecting our health during normal use! My colleague John Carew and I have always warned our fellow coworkers that changing a toner cartridge can be potentially dangerous to one’s health, but at least this is an isolated event that can be controlled. I was surprised that HP was one of the culprits in this report, because it is the only company to use a liquid-supported toner (in its HP Indigo machines).

The irony of these findings is that the more you print and the closer you are to the printer, the more potential harm you are in. So let’s think back to the times when we were printing something big that would pose a threat to our health. I remember printing a 100-page proposal just last week on one of our laser printers. Luckily the printer is about 20 feet from my desk. But, by the time I reached the printer, it was only 20 pages into the print run. This means that I hovered over the carcinogen-spewing printer for the remaining 80 pages, unknowingly inhaling tiny black toner particles, with no buzz to boot!

I propose that the industry take one of three steps to resolve this threat. One, it could increase the size of the toner particles so that they cannot become airborne. Two, it could switch over to liquid-supported toner, like that used in the HP Indigo. Three, the industry could infuse nicotine into the toner, so at least we would be getting some bang for our buck. (Actually, this way we wouldn’t have to go outside to catch a smoke! Thinking more about this, this could increase worker productivity. People would work harder to get that 100-page report in print in order to catch their fix.)

In all seriousness, this report brings to light an issue that has long been known by the manufacturers. We can only hope that this gains enough traction to prompt regulation of the amount of harmful toner particles that are released from the unit during normal operation. This could mark a shift to more inkjet-driven or liquid-supported machines, which for the most part are of higher quality anyway!

So, how far away can you get from your office laser printer? Did you already go out and buy a really long USB or Ethernet cable to extend your life?

Author: John Mehl

Kodak Gets Overexposed on Film––Will Digital Be Its Savior?

Founded in 1892 by George Eastman himself, Eastman Kodak is one of America’s most iconic corporations. Kodak can be credited with the invention of amateur photography, among many other technological evolutions. But where does it stand today? The sad facts point to a company that is near death in all aspects of its financial health.

Headquartered in Rochester, NY, Eastman Kodak is partly responsible for the rise and unfortunately the demise of the local economy. In its heyday, Kodak employed over 60,000 people in Rochester alone; today that number is down to only 7,400! Teetering on the verge of bankruptcy, Kodak has fallen back on its long inventory of patents and commercial printing ventures.

In January of 2010, Kodak began enforcing its patents. It kicked off what will be a decade’s worth of court battles by suing Apple and Research In Motion (RIM). The case was based on patent infringement in regards to digital photography. Unfortunately Kodak lost this battle, but it continues to pursue other infringements with other organizations. Now that Kodak has reached a point where it fears losing everything, the company is toying with the idea of holding a fire sale of its patents in a desperate attempt to drum up needed revenue.

Kodak’s other angle of revitalization has been in the digital print arena. Kodak’s NextPress has been a strong player in the toner-based digital print markets. The most intriguing venture into digital print, however, has come in the form of inkjet technology. Kodak is developing high-volume solutions for digital color inkjet printing and imprinting. It will have a tough time competing with HP in all digital print arenas, but for now Kodak seems to be on the right page.

It’s hard to watch the demise of a well-known American brand. Kodak has always been innovative and creative, and I hope it can continue that in the future. This could be labeled a sign of the hard economic times, but I say it’s a sign of short-sighted business planning. This should remind us that we need to keep looking forward to try to anticipate market changes, or at least be flexible enough to adapt quickly to new models.

So, will this be the company’s Kodak Moment?

 

Author: John Mehl

HP Introduces the T400 Inkjet Web Press

Back in March, HP introduced the newest addition to its line of high-speed inkjet web presses. The T400 is the first of its kind to offer a full-size web width of 42 inches. HP has again opened the door to opportunities that were never before available in the digital print industry. This fills the gap between where digital laser presses stopped and traditional offset presses began. Now quantities from 500 to 5,000––books with high page counts or direct mail applications, for example––are seen as perfect candidates for these machines.

Of course, these high-speed inkjet presses require a substantial investment in finishing equipment, but a traditional offset plant may already have invested in that equipment. The T400 is special in that it can deliver on a 42″ roll or split that web into two 21″ rolls to match most preexisting finishing equipment.

Since HP started installing its T200 and T300 high-speed inkjet presses in 2010, these presses have already printed 1.46 billion pages. Acclaimed print enthusiast Frank Romano, a man I was privileged to study under at Rochester Institute of Technology, has stated that this press is at the “top of the industry,” meaning that this is now the standard of print! Not to mention that in all aspects concerning speed, flexibility, and image quality, this press trumps all the competition.

It is additions like the T400 that will continue to keep the print industry alive and well. Being able to pair variable print with amazing speed is what will allow marketers and advertisers to target exactly who and what they want, when the time is relevant. I honestly can’t wait for the first opportunity that drives me to use this press; it will be a true joy to work with such spectacular innovation.

So, what opportunities do you see this machine opening up for you?

Author: John Mehl

Variable Print on Traditional Offset Equipment: OK for the Long Run!

I’ll bet the first word that comes to your mind when a client says “variable printing” is “digital.” And I guarantee the first word that comes to your client’s mind is “expensive”! The funny thing is that printers have been doing variable printing on traditional equipment for decades. It’s just when digital printing came around that we forgot all about it. The ease of digital printing has made processing complex variable print runs simple, but this comes at a price that is very prohibitive to long runs.

When HP came out with its inkjet web press, many people, including me, were in awe. This piece of equipment has so much potential that I won’t even begin that discussion now. After that initial “love at first sight,” I began to think of where the technology originated. That’s when it dawned on me: Kodak has been retrofitting traditional web presses and bindery equipment with inkjet heads for at least 20 years. Sure, it was primarily only black ink being sprayed, but this was variable print on analog equipment!

Just recently, Kodak and a few other companies have been installing color heads on web presses at trial locations. So, you might ask, what does this mean to me? It means that we can affordably manufacture variable print in very large quantities. Just think–on the same press, on the same pass, you could print your static four-color plus the variable content, including the mailing information. What this basically translates into is blank paper rolls going in one end of the press and a finished, mailable product coming out the other! Don’t think this is low quality either; most heads are laying down 1200 dpi images and text.

So, the next time you’re working on a piece that is headed for a web press, think about adding variable. It won’t cost you a boatload more, and according to industry metrics, it should boost your response rate by more than 500%!

When is the last time you received a piece of mail at home with variable content that wasn’t digitally produced?

 

Author: John Mehl

HP unveils the TouchPad

HP TouchPad shown in stacked card view and exhibition mode

Since the debut of the iPad, tech companies have been racing to make a valid competitor to the wildly successful Apple product.  We saw this with the Blackberry Play Book, the Motorola Xoom, and now we’re seeing HP’s shot with the release of the TouchPad.  So one would ask, what is it that HP can bring to the tablet market that could possibly compete with the iPad?

WebOS: A powerful touch screen-based operating system developed by Palm that released with the first version of the Palm Pre over two years ago.  Many say this is the reason that HP acquired Palm—just to buy the rights to the OS.  WebOS has a unique way of dealing with multitasking through the use of “cards” or small active windows of each open program.  The user can flick through the cards to switch between the different open programs, and when they are done, a card can be easily flicked off screen to quit.  WebOS 3.0, which will debut on the new HP/Palm devices, will add “stacking” to the cards—grouping similar cards together to help the user stay organized.

Notifications: WebOS has always had a better notification system than iOS devices, and it has been improved for webOS 3.0.  Letting users see the notifications on the lock screen (coined “exhibition mode”), as well as letting them flick through notifications until they find the one they want to act on.

Adobe Flash Player 10.1.2 Beta: The first tablet with Adobe Flash compatibility, a huge step up from iOS devices.

Touchstone Technology: Allowing wireless charging of any webOS device with an additional HP stand or charging unit and no third party add on.  There is no need to take off the case to let Touchstone go to work.  But going further than just charging, you can now share information from one webOS device to another by simply tapping them together.  Share a URL, receive a TXT or MMS, and even answer phone calls on a different webOS device through Touchstone connectivity.

Synergy: Consolidating and organizing multiple calendars and contacts from all your outlets.  Facebook, Linkedin, gmail, exchange, etc. Constantly updating and consolidating when data changes to make sure you have the most up-to-date information.

All in all, the HP touchpad seems to be a very well thought-out and functional device.  WebOS will be an excellent platform for tablet computing, because it focuses on touch interface and multitasking from the ground up!  The success of this device depends on how well HP can pull together its community of developers and publishers in order to establish a wide array of apps like the iOS devices.  Look for this to hit shelves by summer 2011!

Author: T. John Mehl