HP has thrown down the gauntlet to rival digital and litho manufacturers with the launch of a new B2 digital press, the 3,450sph HP Indigo 10000, almost a decade after it mothballed the concept.
The press, which carries a basic $1.5m (£950,000) price tag, was one of 10 new products unveiled at the manufacturer's pre-Drupa 2012 press conference in Israel ahead of their formal launch this May.
"This machine will take us into the heart of the offset market. It’s everything you would expect from Indigo, but in a larger format," said Alon Bar-Shany, vice president and general manager of the HP Indigo Digital Press Division.
The 11-tonne, seven-colour press, is part of a trio of fourth generation Indigos that includes the 20000, a 34m/min web press capable of "gravure-quality" printing onto films as thin as 10mic targeted at the flexible packaging and label markets, and the 30000, which is the same speed as the 10000 but can handle boards up to 600mic and is aimed at the folded carton sector.
All three machines feature a maximum print width of 750mm and use the next generation of HP’s ElectroInk.
The Indigo 10000 offers the same full variable data capabilities as other Indigo machines and comes seven-colour as standard, while its 3,450sph simplex print speed is equivalent to 230 A4 ppm.
"There’s no doubt that by 2016 a lot of business will be based on these presses," said Bar-Shany.
The 10000 will be the first machine to be commercially available in early 2013, with the 20000 and 30000 going live shortly afterwards. However, the first UK beta 10000 will go to Barking-based Precision Printing this August.
"There's a lot of pent up demand for the different formats the 10000 offers, simple things like A4 landscape books and 6pp A4, all the DL formats work do much better B2 too," said Precision managing director Gary Peeling.
"Our digital pages grow 50% each year, so this year I would either need to get two conventional Indigos or one 10000. I'm sure this is going to be interesting."
François Martin, worldwide marketing director of HP'S Graphics Solutions Business, said the 10000 was aimed at existing digital businesses expanding their offering as well as large offset businesses moving into the sector.
"Digital print is no longer an option. Customers have growing requirements that include short-run, high-quality, versioned jobs. The 10000 will cater for these," he said.
According to Martin, offset businesses investing in the press will be able to leverage their existing finishing equipment while digital finishing equipment – which is currently geared towards SRA3 – would be addressed from Drupa 2012 and beyond.
Three 10000s will be demonstrated at Drupa working within an end-to-end workflow alongside brand new and updated finishing equipment from Horizon and MBO.
All of the fourth generation presses feature HPs new Enhanced Productivity Mode (EPM), which enables full printing using just CMY, which reduces the presses’ colour gamut by 10% but boosts production speed by a third, giving the Indigo 10000 a maximum speed of 4,600sph (more than 300ppm).
HP estimates that approximately 30% of all commercial jobs would produce sellable results using EPM, which is also available on three of HP’s new third series Indigos, unveiled in Israel this week.
The Indigo 7600, HP’s first carbon neutral press, is capable of 160ppm in EPM and offers textured print and digital embossing, albeit at significantly slower speeds, while the upgraded Indigo 5600 offers EPM output up to 90ppm and has the option of ‘one-shot’ printing for plastic substrates.
The web-fed Indigo W7250 label press can print up to 320ppm using EPM and reach output of 960ppm in monochrome operation. The majority of the third series upgrades will be retrofittable.
The manufacturer has also updated its portfolio of web presses with productivity increases across the board. The HP T410 and T360 webs continue to offer colour output at 600ft/min but mono operation has been boosted 25% to 800ft/min.
In addition, HP has upgraded its T230 web with print speeds in both colour and mono increased to 400ft/min.
HP also used the pre-Drupa conference to unveil its 600dpi, 245m/min imprinting system, the C800 which HP will use to take on market leader Kodak. Up to five of the 108mm-wide heads can be ‘stitched’ together.
The launch of the Indigo 10000 concludes a long wait for a B2 Indigo press, following the unveiling of the XB2 concept press at Drupa 2000, which was intended to be commercialised as the Indigo b7000 by Drupa 2004 but was mothballed less than 12 months before the show.
Additional reporting by Darryl Danielli in Tel Aviv.Tweet