Digital DigestJanuary 2013
BOSTON—Somewhere hidden beneath Hewlett-Packard's manufacturer veneer hides a digital printer, using data sorts to target a specific customer segment. After all, HP doesn't want to waste your time, or their own for that matter.
HP carefully selected a group of 23 same-sized printers from the region to bring in for its "Print Your Future" color inkjet web press event. The two-day excursion, held at the Burlington (MA) Marriott and the headquarters of host printer DS Graphics in Lowell, MA, came just two weeks before Christmas. That HP was still able to round up a captive audience at a time when printing companies and executives are preoccupied with end-of-year housekeeping speaks to the due diligence it performed in culling the invite list.
While HP gave an overview of its digital printing platform—"We have solutions that can print anything from a postage stamp to a building wrap," noted HP's Larry Brining—the star of the show was undoubtably the T series color inkjet web press family. The Print Your Future gathering converged on DS Graphics, which had its T200 (acquired last March) running jobs. The press was complemented by a Hunkeler in-line finishing solution (courtesy of Standard Finishing) that includes an unwinder, web merge, slitter, buffer, cutter, separator, stacker and rewinder.
Fittingly enough, DS Graphics was exposed to the T series inkjet web press while visiting O'Neil Data Systems two years ago. A $40 million performer that has pieced together 40 consecutive quarters of profitability, DS Graphics has been more than pleased with the results thus far, as its 300 percent return-on-investment would attest.
A trio of DS Graphics executives spoke of the system's great marriage of variability with speed (200 feet per minute) at a competitive price. According to Bill Nethercote, executive vice president at DS Graphics, the press has been a boon for expanding its footprint with existing customers.
"We're looking at opportunities we haven't explored in the past," he said. "Right now, we have a foundation (of business) that pretty much pays the rent."
The T200 is an interesting offspring borne of the digital and web press. It doesn't involve click charges; you pay for the ink used. It provides a bonding agent for the use of commodity uncoated papers and a web inspection system that ferrets out low-density streaks in each color and bonding agent.
Printing quality exceeded expectations, and Jack McGrath, vice president of sales and marketing for DS Graphics, credits Appleton paper for helping to raise the quality bar. The T200 has been an ideal fit for DS clientele in the financial (transactional), direct mail (nonprofit) and travel spaces, to name a few. Variability to the member level is the key attribute that leverages the T200's value.
"We are pushing this thing—full images, full bleed, full coverage," McGrath noted. "The sensitivity on the coverage of ink is making itself known. Ink is liquid gold."
Another one of the more critical elements is boasting a sales force that understands what the T200 and personalization can mean to a customer. "The more sophisticated your clients data is, the better this application works," Nethercote told the audience. "You have to have someone in the (sales) organization who understands this and can relate it. We're looking to get into the data conversation."
Though the T200 hasn't quite been in production for a year, DS Graphics is considering adding a T300 sometime in the near future. PI