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HP Courts Lambda & LightJet Users
Is L-F Digital Photo On Its Way Out?

HP's John Pecoraro shows off an example of output

ATLANTA, GA – At the end of February Hewlett-Packard flew a group of commercial photo labs now turned digital printers, to HP’s “A Photo Lab Symposium. Sprinkled among the “photo lab” people were a few professional labs and some sign and screen participants.

The two day event was held at the HP Scitex demo center where about 60 people were given a run-down on all the large format printers with the emphasis on the TJ8500 UV TurboJet as the upcoming replacement for digital laser photo printers. Almost all the attendees owned one or more Lambda or LightJet photo imagers. Because of these users, and the specialty photo labs, HP has acknowledged that photo remains a viable market segment.

HP has even dedicated a specialist to the photo labs. John Pecoraro is National Sales Manager, commercial Photo Labs for HP-Scitex. Pecoraro can speak photo lab lingo, as he dates back to early Encad inkjet printer days and also has sold LightJets. During his presentation he told the group that Océ had discontinued manufacturing of all LightJet printers–a good lead in for his sales pitch on the HP-Scitex UV TurboJet as a replacement for large format photo output.

Speed was the focus of Pecoraro’s presentation. He compared laser photo with the TurboJet’s output speed and production costs. The TurboJet can produce 4,306 square feet/hr., and he said that ink cost is only .09 square foot and backlit .18. When discussing the TurboJet’s benefits compared to LF photo, Pecoraro added, “The margins are much higher [with the TurboJet].” It can print on any uncoated stock that will wrap around the drum, and it prints double sided.”

Pecoraro said that there’s a misleading notion that a lab needs a lot of work to put on the TurboJet because it is so fast. He pointed out that six hours a month of printing covers ink, media and lease costs. In addition to being touted as a replacement for L-F photo, the group was told that with a TurboJet you can take work from screen printers. Some of the lab attendees were interested in the HP Indigo digital offset printing press. A short trip to another HP facility that housed the Indigo models was again a presentation of speed and color. The Indigo 5500 has a larger color gamut than traditional photo, true Pantone colors, and the same durability as offset.

HP reps and Pecoraro were ready with figures for ROI and lease options. Mike Rose of MBO Finance explained the only good part of Congressional Stimulus Package (tax code section 179), and it isn’t a $600 to $1,200 rebate. Rose talked about various tax savings when purchasing or leasing equipment – bigger write offs the first year plus a bonus write off on your taxes.

Three large HP/Scitex users shared their experiences with large format digital printing. Scott Segen of Burton Imaging, said that he gave up all photo three years ago. His new plant on the outskirts of Philly is touted as the cleanest solvent digital printer in the country with the installation of after-burners. He has also reduced his waste factor. Segen supported Pecoraro’s pitch on speed. “We can do a bus wrap in 20 minutes.”

Troy McGinnis of Gigantic Color in Dallas said that although he has multiple LightJets, his TurboJets have opened up new markets. His great piece of advice was, “Buy twice the size building you think you need.” How true.