By Courtney Saba
The opportunity for photo-quality applications is expanding. Continued image quality advancements on digital printing equipment attract new users and create new photo work possibilities.
Hagit Isman, worldwide photo segment manager, HP Indigo, HP Inc., explains that with traditional photo labs, it is only possible to produce photo prints of set sizes, with limited paper alternatives, and few finishing options. The latest digital printing equipment addresses these limitations, improving the application and profit potential of photo printing and photo-based merchandise.
The shift from traditional photo processing to digital printing technologies provides opportunity for print service providers (PSPs). In addition to impressive photo printing capabilities, advancements such as media versatility allow for an increase in productivity and influences photo merchandise production.
Benefits of Digital
An increasing number of print providers are transitioning from traditional printing processes to digital printing solutions. In the photo world, this also holds true.
Isman believes there is a reason for the transitions. She says that every year the company sees more photo labs with medium to high volumes converting to digital presses to add new capabilities and application possibilities that are in demand in today’s market, while maintaining the same quality that customers expect.
Jason Koyama, senior specialist, commercial printing division, Canon U.S.A., states that through digital printing equipment, output can be accurately controlled and reproduced. He adds that using an inkjet photo processor, digital printers can minimize banding by delivering accurate and consistent tone of color while delivering high-resolution detail and sharpness, as well as more vibrant and life-like colors.
In addition to quality, Isman believes new innovative application possibilities are also driving a transition to digital photo printing. This includes aspects such as new inks and substrate options.
“Expanded media versatility translates into a wider range of uses, which is essential to maintaining relevance and profitability in the professional photo and commercial printing markets today,” says Isman.
Digital technologies also bring efficiency and cost effectiveness. “With an increase in the demand for high-quality output in terms of high detail and resolution in addition to accurate color control, photo-quality output can now be delivered in an efficient and cost-effective way through digital printers,” suggests Koyama.
These advantages of digital printing help develop opportunities in the photo market that were not previously possible with traditional photo printing processes.
Photo Merchandise Production
The demand for photo merchandise is changing as consumers undergo a cultural, technological, and generational shift. As the demand for traditional single prints decreases, consumers look for different avenues to print and share their memories.
“Personalized photo merchandise—for example, photo books, calendars, greeting cards, and home décor prints—has filled this void with on-demand personalized photo printing. Having a physical printed product to display and share with family and friends at home or as a personalized gift product is replacing the single print market,” explains Koyama.
Isman adds that with digital printing, photo labs can open infinite new possibilities, including photo books, calendars, and greeting cards in any size. With endless capabilities, PSPs are not limited to just one market with new technology and trends emerging.
“A popular trend is the globalization of photo product services, which has become more prevalent because of mobile technology,” says Isman. Customers are now able to deliver consistent color across presses and sites with digital printing technology. They are able to sell products across countries and produce repeat orders with confidence, she adds.
Several vendors offer digital printing equipment designed to handle photo work either exclusively or as part of a broader set of application possibilities.
Canon U.S.A. Inc.
The DreamLabo 5000 is an inkjet photo production printer. This machine features seven dye-based inks with the ability to print up to 2,400 dpi. It is capable of averaging about 1,200 8×10-inch prints in an hour and features double-sided edge-to-edge printing ability.
Koyama says that it is well suited for print providers looking to offer high-quality photo prints. He adds that photo labs have found the DreamLabo’s inkjet technology and high-quality output to be an optimal replacement for their older silver halide chemical printers.
For low- to high-volume production environments, HP’s commercial sheet-fed digital presses include the HP Indigo 3600, 5600, 5900, 7800, 7900, 10000, and 12000.
The commercial web press platform includes the HP Indigo WS6600p, WS6800p, W7250, and 20000.
The platforms differ in format, speed, and unique capabilities to address specific customer needs. HP Indigo digital press platforms are upgradable to protect customers’ investments.
HP Indigo users are able to produce a range of photo applications including high-quality photo books, posters, cut prints, cards, calendars, and gift items.
Kodak offers its NexPress SX platform, which features a significant gain in image quality, production, and growth. It includes a five-color print engine, as well as new features—long sheet option, HD dry inks, and a matte finish option.
The bizhub PRO and bizhub PRESS equipment provides digital production print performance with excellent color image quality, high-speed B&W output, as well as finishing options to meet any job expectation.
Ricoh’s PRO C9100 series delivers high-quality output, increased productivity, and reliability. These attributes enable printers to expand business opportunities and better serve customers with faster turnaround times and enhanced image quality.
The Xerox iGen 800/1000 produces high-definition image quality. Its quick speed, finishing options, as well as a multitude of compatible media make this production color press a versatile solution.
Digital printing equipment continues to evolve with new trends and new technologies. New capabilities and application possibilities provide PSPs with the tools to print photos and photo merchandise successfully and cost effectively. dps
May2016, DPS Magazine