Hewlett-Packard (HP) set its sights on the commercial print market with the introduction of the new HP Digital Press 6600. Carly Fiorinia, HP's CEO, recently determined three core initiatives for the company: to enable intelligent devices, enable Internet infrastructure and enable e-services. With these goals in mind, building a solution that largely supports print's role in these evolving market segments made sense.
The Internet profoundly changed the way humans communicate, notes Ken Cloud, HP's director of product marketing, commercial printing solutions. "We've called it the McDonald's effect, but I suppose I should really call it the 'Fast-Food Effect.' We've become accustomed to getting our food right away. We're no longer content to stand in line and wait for it. And that's the way we want information. When we need it, we want it immediately. We want it right now."
Cloud adds that with the evolution of marketing from push to pull models, the ability to digitally produce personalized/customized print materials is becoming increasingly important to HP's clients and prospective customers. The Internet supports the on-demand demand for information, and for print to continue to be viable, it must address and respond to these market demands, as well.
So why has HP only now decided to get into the digital press market? For several reasons, Cloud explains: an explosion in the availability of digital content, increasing speed of information obsolescence, improved digital printing technology and a digital infrastructure that now supports the marketplace.
The new 6600 (based on the Indigo TurboStream) is a digital offset printing (liquid electrophotographic) press with embedded digital front-end (DFE), equipped with a true Adobe interpreter that supports PostScript Level 3 and PDF. It's a two-up sheetfed format capable of 4,000 impressions per hour at 800x800 dpi (optional 800x2,400 dpi configuration available), according to HP.
The press, according to Cloud, uses 10 basic colorants capable of covering 85 percent of the PMS color space, including two flourescents—yellow and green. It's operation sweet spot is between 1,500 and 2,500 impressions, 10,000 or more for personalized applications. "Our particle size is about three-to-five-times smaller than other toner-based machines," Cloud explains. "This allows even the gloss of the paper to show through."
Things to come
Hewlett-Packard expects that the new 6600 will meet a market need now and in the future. Cloud predicts five trends for the future of commercial printing, and suggests that digital printing adoption will see these to fruition:
1. Internet-centric print production will become a reality.
2. There will be "touch-less" digital file transfers from creative to production without the need for proofing.
3. The just-in-time/personalized content market will explode.
4. Junk mail will become obsolete.
5. You will be able to print anywhere, anyplace, anytime.
The very first Hewlett-Packard 6600 was installed at a photo-finishing shop in the UK, where they're also using the device to produce high-end real estate documents. The 6600 is now available and shipping in the States.
-Gretchen A. Kirby