The liquid toners are probably the biggest asset of the Indigo presses. The formulation uses oil, not solvent, which means no drying time and faster speeds. Another feature of the toners is their organic pigments, resulting in more stable color and less fading.
Digital printing systems use electrophotographic technology and dry toners. The difference between dry toners and traditional offset printing inks is that dry toners are not absorbed into the paper, but sit on top of it.
The HP Indigo also prints 1-7 colors and custom PMS color mixes. The increased monochrome color speed (272 A4 pages per minute) and the reduced monochrome and two-color, or spot, make the 5000 a true universal device.
Jobe says he prints a lot of black PMS labels. With the monochrome speed of the 5000, and other such universal printers, more black-and-white will be printed on color devices. In comparison, the NexPress 2100plus prints 70 A4 ppm, and the iGen3 prints 90 ppm.
The HP Indigo 5000 features a three-tray 5,500-sheet paper input unit and a 6,000-sheet capacity, plus two output stackers. There are numerous other improvements over the 2000, especially new BID binary ink development rollers.
According to Jobe, “We do no photo books; our market is commercial B2B.” The Indigo 5000’s 12x18 maximum output and 14 pt. stock is the heaviest it runs. HP does sell the S2000 model for card stock. The Color Place focuses on 750 to 1,000 impressions. Any longer runs go on the Quickmaster DI. They have become specialists in variable data printing such as for restaurant chains. Jobe reports that there are pieces where the profit margin is better than big prints. “It’s a more sustainable long-term business.”
Kodak’s Dedication to NexPress
Eastman Kodak is betting the store that its infiltration into Millers Imaging will convince other people/social labs to go for the NexPress. One thing that Kodak has going for it is its dedication to catering to the photo lab world. Even though Millers is a long-time Kodak user, Richard Miller, president, says that he and his Pittsburg, KS General Manager, Jim Jamison, decided that only Kodak would be willing to give its all to “support the photo side for their consumer (Mpix) and pro (Miller’s) businesses, namely DP2.
Millers has placed the NexPress 2100 in its Columbia, MO facility and the faster 2500 in Pittsburg, KS. Here’s the catch. Millers front end is all DP2, and who else, but Kodak, according to Miller, is willing to interface the NexPress with DP2 software for individual color correction of images. Kodak handles the DP2 coding, and NexPress handles the coding that’s relative to drive the press.
Miller says that Kodak offers more selection of substrates, but Millers currently only offers four paper choices, including fine-art. Although the NexPress’ maximum output size is 13x19.2, Miller limits the print size to 12x18 for both Mpix online and its Pro divisions.
The NexPress features a re-imaging cylinder for handling variable data on the fly. The speed depends on the front-end RIPs. Kodak offers up to six RIPing processes. The resolution is 600 dpi with a multiple bit depth screening system, producing a 175 line screen. Variable shades of gray increase the visual resolution. The digital varnish coating and online NexGLOSSER offer an advantage over some other digital presses.
Kodak has designed its NexPress units to be totally upgradeable.
Mpix has been a growth division for Miller’s Imaging, and now Mpix Press allows his online customers to create custom printed products. This has been their first holiday season with the digital presses, and Miller saw a ramp-up in orders last autumn.
For the future he sees the possibility of expanding into the B2B market. The biggest challenge according to Miller is “Getting it [the presses] usable so customers can do their own design. The pro photographers like to do their own design.” As to profit with digital presses, it’s a little early, but “the software is the key; it needs to be simple, easy to order, particularly with photo books.” This is the third year for Miller’s Mpix online division and the first year for holiday greeting cards printed on the NexPress.
“Our Pro customers are fussy, and wedding albums can generate $200-$300 each.”
The Xerox iGen3
Shutterfly, Inc., the internet-based social expression and personal publishing service has purchased iGen3 110 Digital Production Presses to satisfy its growing demand for online image products.
Shutterfly is an all-digital lab. You might call it a digital wholesale lab that communicates with its customers via the internet. Xerox recently introduced image-improving software for the iGen, which is a big plus for Shutterfly’s type of creative applications, termed “social expression and personal publishing service.” Of course they offer memory books and every other type of printed product with image(s) that you can imagine. The new Xerox software is said to optimize color balance, tone scale, and flesh tones of images. Resolution is 600x4800 dpi, and line screens at 150, 175, 200, plus stochastic, all utilizing 256 gray levels. Last July, Xerox announced “Automatic Image Enhancement,” that adjusts for sharpness, exposure, contrast, and colorfulness to enhance poor photographic quality. It also optimizes each photo independently with smart evaluation that touches only those photos in need of repair.