Indigo Digital Press
|Owned by Hewlett Packard|
|Industry||Printing, graphic Arts|
|Headquarters||Ness Ziona, Israel|
|Benny Landa, Alon Bar-Shany|
|Products||Commercial, labels and packaging printing solutions|
||This article contains content that is written like an advertisement. (February 2016)|
HP Indigo Division, formerly Indigo Digital Press, is a company that develops, manufactures and markets digital offset printing presses, proprietary consumables and workflow solutions. Founded in 1977, it was an independent company until it was acquired by HP in 2001. They have offices around the world, with headquarters in Nes Ziona, Israel.
Customers of HP Indigo solutions include commercial printers, photo specialty printers, and label and packaging converters to print applications such as marketing collateral, photo albums, direct mail, labels, folding cartons, flexible packaging, books, manuals, and specialty jobs. The company claims to have an installed base of "over 4000 customers and over 6000 presses."
The ability of digital presses to print without films and plates enables the use of variable data such as text or images, such as in personalized direct mail applications, or in photo albums, which are usually printed in copies of one. Digital presses also make short-run, just-in-time printing, cost-effective. In this way, digital presses have changed the economic models for print.
Technology and Portfolio
HP Indigo uses a proprietary, patented technology and a business model that sells both the presses and the consumables.
In the HP Indigo printing process, a laser creates the image on a dynamic imaging foil (called a PIP). Proprietary ink (called ElectroInk) adheres to the plate and is transferred to a heated blanket, before being printed on a substrate. The small size of the particles ensures that the printed image does not mask the underlying surface roughness/gloss of the paper, bringing Indigo printing closer in appearance to conventional offset lithography, with semi-transparent inks that adapt to the surface of the substrate.
There are several families of HP Indigo presses, which can be broadly grouped by the type of paper-handling mechanism they work with: Sheetfed (or cut-sheet) or Webfed (or roll-fed).
Sheetfed presses print on sheets, have a feeder system consisting of drawers and/or a pallet of paper, and print on both sides of the paper (duplex print/perfecter), printed sheets are collected in a stacker mainly for paper printing. Examples of sheetfed presses include the HP Indigo 7600 and the HP Indigo 10000.
Webfed presses print on rolls, often referred to as a web the feeder system (unwinder) feeds the paper through continuously in most cases, print on one side of the substrate (simplex) printed rolls can be collected on a rewinder or cut into sheets (sheeter). Examples of webfed presses are the HP Indigo WS6800 for labels and flexible packaging and the Indigo W7250 for books, photo and other commercial applications.
The launch of the HP Indigo 10000 digital press in 2012 marked the first time the company embarked on a platform that supports a paper size beyond A3. With the B2/29.5" paper format, they aim to increase the productivity and application range of traditional print service providers.
In 2014 two new products based in the same type of engine/format were released, the Indigo 20000 and the Indigo 30000, aimed at the flexible packaging and folding-cartons markets, respectively.
Each Indigo press has up to 7 color stations, which can use cyan, magenta, yellow, black and a variety of special and spot color inks, such as white, silver, UV red and transparent.
HP provides the option for users to mix their own ink colors to match Pantone references. This is common with non-digital offset litho presses, and is one of the features that distinguishes the HP Indigo process. "Off-press" colors are mixed from 11 color (from the 15 original) Pantone spectrum at an offline, ink mixing station. Users can also order special pre-mixed colors from HP Indigo, for example fluorescent pink. HP Indigo presses are available in configurations supporting four, five, six or seven colors.
At drupa 2008, Indigo unveiled a new workflow strategy for their portfolio called HP SmartStream, based on their own development and on partnerships with other industry vendors. Among the announcements was a [web-to-print] product in partnership with Press-Sense (later bought by Bitstream makers of Pageflex.) They also released new versions of their Digital Front Ends (DFEs).
Today, their SmartStream workflow portfolio is based on both their own products, as well as partnerships with other graphic arts vendors in fields such as job creation, pre-press, variable data printing and finishing.
In 2004 HP made a 100 million shekel investment in a new production site in Kiryat Gat, Israel. The factory is responsible for manufacturing HP Indigo ElectroInk. There is a sister facility in Singapore that also manufactures Indigo ElectroInk.
In 2007 an adjacent hardware center was opened in Kiryat Gat. This facility assembles frames, feeders, and other components with imaging engines into finished presses, and also serves as the site for manufacturing other operator-replaceable consumables, such as the blanket.
In late 2012, HP Indigo inaugurated a second ink plant in Kiryat Gat, which will focus on the manufacturing of ElectroInk for the new family of presses: the HP Indigo 10000, Indigo 20000 and Indigo 30000 digital presses. This 118,000 square feet facility is reported to be the first building in the country and the first HP manufacturing facility worldwide designed to meet the LEED Silver environmental standard.
Indigo has over 4000 customers in 120 countries around the world. They include some of the largest names in print world, including Vistaprint and Consolidated Graphics (now part of RR Donnelley) but also a variety of small and medium-sized print service providers and labels and packaging converters.
The year 2005 marked the creation of Dscoop, the independent user's group of Indigo and HP Graphic Arts solutions. It has more than 7000 users today, including owners and technical personnel. Dscoop membership now supports HP Graphic Arts users throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Asia Pacific and Japan.
The name Indigo comes from a company formed by Benny Landa in 1977. Landa, known as the father of digital offset color printing, was born in Poland to post-World War II Jewish refugee parents, who later immigrated to Edmonton, Canada.
While a student in London, Landa got a job at Commercial Aid Printing Services (CAPS), a company offering printing services and microfilm solutions. Landa was instrumental in developing a solution that won the company a contract with Rolls Royce and was appointed as Head of R&D. However, CAPS lacked manufacturing capital and went into receivership in 1969. In 1971 he joined Gerald Frankel, the owner of CAPS, and founded a new company - Imaging Technology (Imtec). Landa led Imtec’s R&D activities and invented the company’s core imaging technology. While researching liquid toners at Imtec, he worked on a method of high-speed image development that would later lead to the invention of ElectroInk.
At the start of the 1990s Indigo moved from a primarily research-driven business into a full-scale printing equipment manufacturing company. The company's first product would be a digital plotter/duplicator, bringing the tiny company (its 1991 sales totaled less than US$5 million, generating a profit of $440,000) head to head with such industry giants as Xerox and Canon.
In 1993 Indigo launched the E-Print 1000 at IPEX trade show. The E-Print 1000 eliminated the expense and labor of the plate-printing setup process, printing directly from a computer file, and enabled inexpensive short-run color printing. Images not only could be readily changed, they could be changed from page to page, requiring neither additional setup or pauses in the print run. Instead of printing to metal plates, the E-Print created a latent image on the Photo Imaging Plate or PIP through the use of an elecrostatic charge. This charged area would then attract the charged ElectroInk, which would in turn be transferred to the ITM or blanket, and then again transfer from the blanket to the paper or other substrate. Because 100% of the ink transfers from PIP to blanket to substrate, a different image and color could be printed with each rotation of the press. At the same time, Indigo's ElectroInk-based color inks offered print quality rivaling that of traditional printing processes. Almost 20 years later, and despite the numerous technological improvements, Indigo presses are still based on this core technology.
In 1994 Indigo had an initial public offering on the NASDAQ stock exchange, selling 52 million shares at $20 per share and raising $100 million. The offering reduced Landa's personal holding in Indigo to 70 percent. As the stock continued to climb, the following year, Landa's paper worth reached some $2 billion by 1995.
In 1995 Indigo launched another revolutionary product: the Omnius press. Whereas E-Print focused on medium-volume single-sheet printing, Omnius brought digital printing to a variety of surfaces, including plastic, cardboard, film, and, especially, cans, bottles, and other packaging surfaces.
At the end of 1995, Indigo sales did not reach the expected levels, and the company found itself overstaffed. Despite a strong rise in revenues to $165 million, the company posted its fourth year of losses, of about $40 million. George Soros however still believed in the company’s potential and increased his investment to 30 percent of Indigo's shares by 1997. By 1998 the company improved its financial performance and revenues passed the $200 million mark for the first time.
In 2000 the Hewlett Packard company made a $100m investment in Indigo, buying 14.8 million of Indigo's common shares, which represented 13.4 percent of the company's outstanding shares. On September 6, 2001 HP announced that it will acquire the remaining outstanding shares of Indigo Indigo N.V. (NASDAQ: INDG) for approximately $629 million in HP common stock and a potential future cash payment of up to $253 million contingent upon Indigo's achievement of long-term revenue goals, for an aggregate potential payment of up to $882 million. Following the acquisition, Benny Landa became a strategic advisor to HP CEO Carly Fiorina, Landa was quoted saying:
HP workforce in Israel (which includes not only employees of the Indigo division, but also of Scitex and Israeli's divisions of HP Labs, HP Software and others) reached 5,500 people in 2010, making HP the country’s second-largest foreign employer after Intel.
HP Indigo Today
Under the ownership of HP, Indigo developed and grew to become a world leader in the digital printing industry. The company is ranked No. 1 in the US high-volume digital press market and, according to HP officials, has a 75% share of the world market for digital commercial photo printing.
In August 2009 HP announced that there are now more than 5,000 HP Indigo digital presses in operation around the world.
In March 2012 HP Indigo unveiled the Indigo 10000 B2/29" digital press and released it to market a year later. By October 2013, there were reportedly 60 Indigo 10000 customer installations in over 20 countries.
In September 2013, Indigo claimed dominance of the narrow label market, with General Manager Alon Bar-Shany calling the Indigo WS6600 press "the best-selling solution in the narrow web industry, not just in digital printing, (but) narrow overall." 
In 2014, HP Indigo marked the launch of the new 20000 and 30000 digital presses, aimed at the packaging markets. The presses target flexible packaging converters, label converters and folding carton establishments.
Early incarnations of the press (Series 1 engines) were prone to banding and ink adhesion problems. However newer models have corrected most of these issues.
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