Is B2-Format Digital Printing Right for Your Printing Company?
Printing equipment that improves efficiency, reduces costs, and expands product opportunities is an essential component to a printing company’s profitability.
A digital press format that is offering commercial printers profitability advantages is the 29" B2 format. Also referred to as a half-size press, the 29'' format is an important and common offset press size for commercial printers.
Adding a digital B2 press is an attractive opportunity for commercial printers because many have established production and finishing workflows for 29'' sheetfed offset presses. A special NAPCO Research report, Critical Considerations When Evaluating B2 Digital Production, sponsored by HP, showcases B2 digital press adopters and highlights the key factors to consider when evaluating an investment in these presses.
Before B2 digital presses, the maximum sheet size for most cut-sheet digital presses was typically limited to A3+ (13'' x 19'') for two-up applications. The availability of a larger digital press size that supports multi-up impositions enables print providers to print more applications on digital presses.
Most commercial print applications can be produced on a B2-size press. Combining the advantages of the format size with digital printing (e.g., cost-effective short runs, quick turnarounds, personalization, and just-in-time manufacturing) makes B2 digital sheetfed presses an attractive investment for print providers.
There are many factors to consider when selecting a B2 digital sheetfed press, from ink technology to substrate compatibility, to total running costs, to color consistency.
B2 Digital Technology Types
There are three basic imaging technologies in today’s B2 digital press offerings: liquid electrophotographic ink, inkjet (water-based or UV cured), and toner (dry electrophotography). Each technology has its own unique advantages, and the best choice for a company depends on the following factors:
- Print quality requirements
- Application specifics, including run lengths and ink coverage
- Substrate suitability
- Color quality and consistency requirements
- Operating costs
- Vendor support
While inkjet B2 presses may have been demonstrated to the market first, HP Indigo’s Liquid ElectroInk based B2 presses have led the industry’s B2 installation and production volume, starting in 2012 with the HP Indigo 10000. The upgraded HP Indigo 12000 arrived in 2016, and in 2020, HP announced a new generation of B2 presses — the 100K and 15K — that increased the advantages of digital B2 output.
Meeting Demand for High-Impact
One company featured in the report is Bolger, in Minneapolis. The company invested in an HP Indigo 100K to expand its digital print capacity and support, growing demand for high-impact printing applications using personalized data.
As a result of adding the 29.5'' HP Indigo 100K, Bolger decommissioned two offset presses and uses the new press to print tens of thousands of duplexed B2 sheets per day.
Bolger serves vertical markets such as healthcare, luxury brands, retail, financial services, education, and nonprofits. The investment in the B2 digital press supports the company’s rapid expansion into providing full-service mail and multichannel communications solutions for its audiences using data-driven workflows.
Commenting on the press purchase, Erik Norman, Bolger’s senior vice president of sales and marketing, says, “The HP Indigo 100K will support the significant growth we’re experiencing in data-driven personalization of print campaigns. We believe digital print will continue to be the growth driver.”
Norman says that having the right balance of digital and offset capability provides great flexibility in meeting client demand.
B2: The Next Phase in Digital Printing
B2 digital presses offer print providers many benefits and represent the next phase in digital printing’s evolution. Runs continue to get shorter, demand for faster job turnaround is increasing, and organizations are looking for ways to leverage customer data to produce customized print communications. B2 digital presses address these essential market demands and enable print providers to stand out from the competition without having to redesign workflows.
Download this special report to learn more about the benefits of B2 digital presses and key things to consider when evaluating the investment in a B2 digital press.
Lisa Cross is the principal analyst of NAPCO Research (a unit of NAPCO Media) where she conducts market research and analysis on emerging trends and changing dynamics in the commercial, in-plant and packaging industries, and the market forces that are driving those changes. With decades of experience covering the graphic arts and marketing industries, Cross has authored thousands of articles on a variety of topics, including technology trends, business strategy, sales, marketing and legislation.