Seeing Is Believing

Digital printing in Asia

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HP recently organised a meeting of Asia Pacific journalists in Singapore to discuss the explosive growth in these markets. S Chidambar covered to event on behalf of PSA .

HP’s meeting in Singapore started off with a conference featuring a number of presentations followed by a panel discussion on various aspects of digital printing. Alon Bar-Shany, Vice President and General Manager of HP Indigo Digital Press Division kicked off the conference proceedings by introducing HP Indigo’s achievements and stating HP’s objective of maintaining its position as the fastest growing player in the Graphic Arts business, which represents 86 per cent of the total of 48.1 trillion pages printed in 2005 (Home/office/photo at 9 per cent and other segments at 5 per cent constitute the balance). Of this, digitally printed pages represent only 6 per cent but are projected to grow @ of 17 per cent per annum in value terms between 2005 and 2010 as against 3 per cent per annum for the analog segment. According to PRIMIR, the total global print market for 2006 has been estimated at 49 trillion pages valued at US$ 601 billion (commercial printing US$ 300 billion, package printing US$ 200 billion and specialty printing about US$ 100 billion) and is projected to hit US$ 721 billion by 2011. Of this, the share of Asia – Pacific is 18 trillion pages worth US$ 176 billion, only just behind North America (16 trillion pages valued at US$ 198 billion). However, it will soon emerge as numero uno as it is growing at a whacking rate (China @ 10.1 per cent per annum, the rest of AP @ 7.5 per cent per annum) as compared to NA’s 1.7 per cent per annum.

V.S. Hariharan, Vice President of Graphic Arts Business for HP Asia Pacific & Japan then emphasised the importance of the Asia Pacific market for HP (by 2011, AP & Japan will account for 31 per cent of all pages printed world-wide) and laid out their plans for servicing this region. Their business in this market is seeing explosive growth (> 25 percent for the Graphics Segment overall, > 40 per cent for Indigo presses and > 60 per cent on impressions printed on Indigo presses).

Key drivers for the growth of digital printing will be immediacy/turnover, personalisation, regionalisation, 1:1 communications, and the reduction in its costs per page. HP intends to maintain or increase its lead by continuing its innovation-led technology approach, strengthening of its product portfolio, development of end-to-end business solutions with well-known channel partners and further reinforcement of its financing solutions arm. Channel partners already include Heidelberg, Creo, Screen, Agfa, EskoArtwork  and Press–sense for workflow solutions, GMG for colour management and proofing, Avery Dennison, Yenom, UPM Raflatac, Michelman, Hanita Coatings, Fedrigoni Group and Hahnemuhle for substrates and GBC, Unibind, Duplo, Horizon, Hunkeler, Morgana and ABG International for finishing solutions. HP have invested in special infrastructure like the HP Scitex Demo Centre at Hong Kong, the HP Indigo Ink Plant & Substrate Qualification/Testing Centre and its new HP Indigo Centre Of Excellence at Singapore. Also included were a few case studies from the AP region.

Of particular interest was Moser Baer India, the world’s second largest manufacturer of optical media, who decided to diversify into home entertainment movie VCDs/DVDs using HP Indigo digital presses to print disc pouches on demand. Within 6 months of operation, they have acquired a total of 4 HP 4500 presses and turned out 10 million impressions in April 2007 – among the highest in the world. They are projected to hit a billion discs/impressions per annum in 3 years.

In his presentation, Jim Hamilton, Group Director of InfoTrends, the well-known specialists in market research for the printing industry, highlighted the progress made by digital printing and how it would lead growth in printing technologies. Also included in the presentation was a study on the Chinese printing market, a huge opportunity for digital printing and workflow.

The conference session concluded with presentations by 2 commercial printers from Australia and New Zealand highlighting their positive experiences in opting for digital printing and a panel discussion/Q & A session. The panel mentioned that the break-even point on cost-effectiveness of digital printing as compared to offset litho will depend largely on local costs: in Australia and New Zealand this figure was 1,000 A4 pages for printing on one side, 500 A4 pages for printing on both sides and 1500 A4 pages for 4 colour printed labels. The panel included all the speakers plus Steve Donegal, Business Manager and Michael Mogridge, Sales Director of HP Asia Pacific’s Digital Press Division.

The meet also featured visits to A & P Co-ordinator, a commercial printer who had made a highly successful – and profitable – foray into digital printing from their traditional offset business, and Oasis Printing, a start-up outfit that has been able to use its digital printing capabilities to rapidly establish itself as Singapore’s leading supplier of on-demand labels, personalised print requirements and high-quality small print runs.

This was followed by a visit to the new HP Indigo Centre Of Excellence, which is an outstanding facility housing state-of-the-art capabilities for demonstration and training.

We are carrying a separate detailed write-up on the Centre of Excellence in the Industry News section in this issue.