HP Indigo launches new mid-web digital press

HP Indigo unveiled a new, more efficient and productive 200K mid-web digital press for labels, shrink sleeve and flexible packaging. Chelsea McDougall reports

HP Indigo launches new mid-web digital press

HP Indigo launches new mid-web digital press

HP Indigo has developed a new digital press aimed at the flexible packaging, label and shrink sleeve markets. The 200K digital press provides increased efficiencies and productivity built on the success of its 25K digital press.

HP launched the 200K digital press before a global audience at a VIP event at its headquarters in Israel in March. HP will bring the press to Dscoop in the US this spring and Labelexpo Europe this fall.

Tech specs

The new press is based on HP’s install base of over 300 HP Indigo 25K digital presses worldwide. HP says the new press – which runs at 56m/min (184ft/min) in enhanced productivity mode, or three-color printing in cyan, magenta and yellow – is 30 percent faster than its predecessor and can help converters realize 45 percent gains in productivity, compared to the HP Indigo 25K.

‘The HP Indigo 200K is a mid-web digital press specially designed for converters addressing the needs of brands in flexible packaging, but it also serves the growing requirements of the label and shrink sleeve industries for higher productivity and wider format,’ says Noam Zilbershtain, VP and general manager of HP Indigo and Scitex. ‘Flexible packaging is a growing market, and HP Indigo customers are growing much faster than the market. I have no doubt that the HP Indigo 200K digital press will open the door for more flexo converters who want to join the success, and reign in industry 4.0.’

HP’s successful mid-web digital press – the 20000 – was launched in 2014, and an upgraded version was released in 2020 with the 25K. ePac was the beta site at that time.

Nearly every element of its predecessor was modified for the new 200K press to run more efficiently. The laser writing head, the in-line primer, paper handling and more were optimized to increase speed and throughput. In addition, HP added more capabilities in the digital front end to reduce time to color, scaling and added AI-driven services to increase uptime.

An in-line priming unit on a 30in wide press enables the treatment of virtually any substrate ranging from 10 to 400 microns. The ILP unit is followed by an energy-efficient drying system before HP’s Liquid ElectroPhotography (LEP) print unit. The 200K offers a wide range of ElectroInks and is designed to print high-coverage packages with white on the majority of the substrate, both surface and reverse.
An inline spectrophotometer ensures color consistency with the Spot Master, a technology that HP claims is the ‘industry’s fastest time to color.’ After printing, an on-press inspection unit allows operators to inspect the quality of print jobs - both reverse and surface print.

The HP Indigo 200K digital press also features HP Indigo’s PrintOS software automation capabilities for batching, ganging and variable data.

The flexible packaging market seems primed for the digital disruption that changed the landscape of the label market years ago.

HP’s global product manager Aviram Iluz says: ‘We are still scratching the surface of digital flexible packaging production, with less than 1 percent of the total market value printed digitally. This equals opportunity. We’re bringing agility of digital print to the flexible packaging market – not only for short runs, for every run.’

Beta site

UK-based Sirane Group was announced as one of the press’ first beta customers – one of three being delivered worldwide. The new 200K digital press, installed in April, is Sirane’s first step into digital packaging production.

Sirane Group managing director Simon Balderson says: ‘For us, moving from analog to digital, is a change of mindset, really. It’s not just a change of mindset in terms of us as a packaging supplier, but it’s a change of mindset for our customers and the imagination they have to see what we can do with this technology.’

The company is changing to a digital-first mentality.

‘The way I look at it, digital will be our default,’ Balderson says. ‘Of course, we will have analog there behind us, but digital
is first. The mindset we’re trying to put in place.’

Sirane Group commercial and business development director Peter Ralten says: ‘At Sirane, we have been looking into digital print for a while now, realizing it is where the future lies. The HP Indigo 200K digital press, with its incredible increase in productivity, opens new business opportunities for us.’

The HP Indigo 200K digital press offers the benefits of digital production: on-demand delivery, no minimum orders, unique designs, reduced energy consumption and minimal waste.

‘Digital printing isn’t just about short runs,’ Ralten says, ‘If a company wanted 100,000 stand-up pouches or more with 100,000 different, unique designs then digital printing makes that possible, which opens up exciting possibilities.

‘But at the same time, short-runs are a key feature of the digital press, and again will offer our customers a service which we are not currently able to offer.’

Sirane is a packaging development-to- manufacture company, with expertise in absorbency and material science.
The company specializes in board; bags, pouches and film including traditional flexibles; absorbent products; assembly and fulfillment; plastic replacement and more.

Ralten adds: ‘Sirane offers a huge range of flexible packaging solutions, ranging from paper-based heat-sealable barrier films and recyclable plastics through to traditional flexibles. The HP Indigo 200K will offer something different and exciting to all our flexible packaging customers, no matter what substrate they use.’

Sirane has four main divisions: food packaging; horticultural; medical and healthcare; and lab supplies and services. The company is based in Telford, UK with three sites, and has additional manufacturing in Mexico, Czech Republic; the US.

VIP event

While the 200K launch may have been the highlight of the event, it wasn’t the only reason HP brought guests to its global headquarters. It was the first event of its kind since 2019 and welcomed more than 100 visitors from across the globe. HP says 60 percent of VIP attendees were new or prospective HP Indigo users.

One longstanding HP customer who spoke during the event was Deanne Sinclair, owner and president of Tornoto-based Cambridge Labels. Sinclair has several HP Indigo presses for labels but also invested in a 25K, which the company uses as a way to move short-run label and shrink sleeve jobs off her other HP assets. Cambridge Label doesn’t currently print flexible packaging jobs on the 25K, though Sinclair is investigating expanding the company’s application range.

‘We were getting pressure-sensitive label orders for, say 1,000 ft, that have a lot, a lot of versions,’ she explains. ‘And it would tie up our 6K for a bit too long. So in order to take care of other small to medium-size orders, I’ve been printing pressure sensitive and shrink jobs on our 25K. Just not flexible packaging ... yet.’

Sinclair’s talk was titled ‘Excuse me, where can I find a flexo operator,’ and lamented the trouble she – much like many label converters – has in finding skilled workers to run her machines.

Bavarian converter Labelisten offered an interesting take on sustainability in the packaging industry. Frank Plechschmidt started his lively discussion with, ‘Good morning, fellow waste producers!’

For Plechschmidt, digital printing is attractive because of its waste reduction. With digital, Labelisten can print just what the customers need. ‘Just think of how much packaging is thrown away before it’s even used,’ he says.

Plechschmidt also sees flexible packaging as ‘baby steps to sustainability.’ Flexible packaging replaces rigid packaging, which is more taxing to produce and transport. And, though there are some options on the market, flexible packaging materials are not inherently recyclable or compostable.

The VIP event also included tours to HP’s Ness Ziona and Kiryat Gat campuses, where guests saw HP’s ink production facility, as well as a behind-the-curtain look at the production of its V12 digital label press. The V12 made waves at Labelexpo Americas last year and will be on display with the 200K at Labelexpo Europe 2023.

Visitors on the flexible packaging VIP track also visited Digipack, a company that launched Israel’s first all-digital flexible packaging business with an HP Indigo 20000 installed in 2019. Digipack’s customers include food, pharma and cosmetics, and its CEO has witnessed rapid growth from the reduction of run lengths and an increase in specialized runs.

Digipack CEO Yiftach Stern says: ‘With the HP Indigo 20000, we can commit to short delivery times from the moment of the concept until the product reaches the shelf, with an added benefit of reduced inventory.’

Other sessions included a keynote address by Kfir Damari, co-founder of SpaceIL, Jose Gorbea, HP’s global head of brands, who discussed creative strategies for digital packaging and a customer panel that included Sirane, Labelisten and Cambridge Label, as well as PressUp, Beeri and Sealed Air.

Chelsea McDougall

  • Group managing editor