HP has added a new Edge Printing feature to its variable data SmartStream Designer software for Indigo users.
The latest feature for the technology manufacturer’s Smartstream Designer software plugin for Adobe InDesign Version 11, will allow printers to create images on the page edges of books as well as across multiple spines.
Printers can use the feature to create a broad range of effects such as personalised designs that are only visible when the book is closed, that are different according to which angle the book is being viewed from, or only visible when the pages are fanned.
According to HP Indigo R&D manager Amir Gaash, although printing on the edge of books is nothing new, the ability to do so in one pass and with such accuracy using this latest update, is.
He said: “This is a tool we ordinarily use for creating variable data and this is a new application for it. Usually it can only be done by using a second printing process where the layers of ink are very thin. It is very difficult and time consuming to do and involves a great number of steps.
“The new feature allows users to select an image, using one simple interface, and divide into tiny slices, according to the number of pages in the book, and print that consecutively onto the bleed area of each page.
“This has such huge possibilities in terms of application, not just books. It could be used to print on the side of blocks of show tickets for example, which could also be a security feature,” he added.
The edge printing facility can also be used for spine printing across sets of books, DVDs or packages, Gaash said. "It can create one continuous image that can run across a set of 10 or 20 books, such as the Encyclopedia Britannica for example. It could even extend to use in a supermarket where a retailer could use the packaging to create one word or image across the front of the whole display, which would jump out to a shopper standing at a distance,” he added.
The edge printing tool is available to all HP Indigo users with SmartStream Designer and Gaash said it would be particularly suited to the 12000 and 10000 models although older models could also run the software.
The Smartstream designer plug-in, which is aimed at low-volume production, is available for limited use download at www.hp.com/go/smartstreamdesigner or to purchase for unlimited use for €3,000. For higher volumes HP offers a server version of the software called Smartstream Composer.
Product manager for HP SmartStream Designer, Dana Cogan said: “The idea of printing on book edges dates back to the 1600s but of course it was a long and complicated process then.
"This allows us to go back in time and bring back value to each specific page and book, making it that much more unique."