Glo installs Indigo 10000; reinvents digital print

Cross Cut Road in Coimbatore has the allure of a big city shopping district. Top brands are visible, shopfront fascades are razzle dazzle, the shoppers are stylish. In the midst of this is Glo Digital housed on two floors. Four years ago, when PrintWeek India visited this site, it housed an Indigo 3050. That kit is still churning out prints, but in addition there is: the 5600 and the 7600 and of course the brand new 10000.

05 Apr 2014 | By Ramu Ramanathan

T S Ramanan, the managing director of Glo Colour Lab says, "The 10000, a B2 press meets 98% of offset requirements." He believes, "It will change the way people look at digital print."

The 10000 in Coimbatore
Ramanan says the B2 format HP Indigo 10000 is the first device in India which caters to the general commercial print. Mazda in Mumbai has one. A quick look at the kit housed in a new location a couple of kilometres from Cross Cut road indicates that "the digital print has the same quality as offset." The press has a maximum sheet size of 750x530mm, prints up to seven colours and has a monthly duty cycle of 2m sheets. It has been designed to be compatible with standard sheet sizes, offset pallet feeding and conventional finishing devices.

Thanks to a lot of R&D on the 7600, the choice for the 10000 was an easy one. Glo's technical print head and Indigo brain, A Srinivasan, says, the device has been designed "from beginning to end like an offset machine."

He shows about 100 samples with intricate foil work; plus work rendered on Glo feather touch media. "This is really going to change the way people are looking at digital print. Adding this press to our range means we can potentially address 98% of all jobs that customers produce today," he adds.

The Indigo 10000 offers the same full variable data capabilities as other Indigo machines, while its 3,450sph simplex print speed is equivalent to 230 A4ppm.

The machine is part of a trio of fourth generation Indigos that includes the 20000, a 34m/min web press capable of "gravure-quality" printing onto films as thin as 10micron (0.01mm), targeted at the flexible packaging and label markets, and the 30000, which can handle boards up to 600micron (0.6mm) thick.

Ramanan says, "Due to these features, we can produce short-run packaging and label work. Most importantly, we can save our running cost as compared to the 7600 or 5600."

Destination Tamil Nadu
Ramanan explains how he inked the Indigo deal with HP at neighbouring Annapurna Gaurishanker over a meal of rawa idli and coffee. Like the Annapurna Gaurishanker and Krishna Sweets franchise, Glo has created a brand identity in Coimbatore - and Tamil Nadu. They have production sites in Coimbatore, Madurai and Chennai all powered by Indigos. The plan is to shift one 3050 from Chennai and Coimbatore to new centres in Salem and Trichy.

In 2013, Glo installed the Indigo 5600 in Madurai. A year ago, it had installed the 7600 in Madurai. As Ramanan says, "In 2012-2013, the aim was to target commercial printing and photo speciality products."

Ramanan recounts how he created photo products on TechNova's LMO, plus pearl metallic and textured media. Some of the photo albums Glo created has been deployed by HP at their DScoop events. Stephen Nigro, senior vice president of PPS inkjet and printing solutions for HP in the USA was very impressed with a photo wedding album which was produced by Glo for his daughter's wedding. 

Photo merchandising is hard work says Ramanan. And in a sense he developed the market in South India. "Initially no one accepted HP Indigo for photo album work, But look what is happening in India, now." Case in point being the 20 Indigo machines in neigbhouring Kerala which cater to this segment post-Glo's success rate. This meant, Glo had to re-draw its strategy. Today Glo is also targetting personal calendars, cards, book  publishing, and packaging. For this, Glo has invested in an Esko Kongsberg to create packaging prototypes and personalised gift items.

For Ramanan, he is a man who spent 18 hours in a day in a darkroom in the eighties - the days when they served the top cinema studios in South India. He delights in how he printed a lorry life size campaign in 1983 with legacy technology. 

Since those rough and tough days, Ramanan sits on a Rs 40-cr turnover multi-city operation.

The 10000 capabilities
Ramanan says that the installation was perhaps the fastest by HP on any site. 

A demo of the 10000 on the new site indicates a range of new services including photo applications, short-run publications and direct mail.

Ramanan says, "It is suitable for printers that need to match brand or corporate colours – it offers Pantone-certified colours, including white, to provide accurate colour matching.

Srinivasan who explains each machine part in great detail says, "This new press opens up a vast array of new applications, thanks to the larger sheet size. Such applications include pocket folders, six page brochures, posters, large covers, landscape books and oversize lay-flat photobooks, but the possibilities extend beyond commercial jobs into the photo-specialty, publishing, direct mail and packaging."

The highlights of the demo are HP’s ElectroInk technology as well as the automatic blanket and photo imaging plate (PIP) changes, which save operator time, along with an automatic registration system and integrated spectrophotometer, for consistent print quality.

Glo which has opted for PUR technology to ensure lay-flats will also be installing a Polar cutting with a JDF network as a well as a Horizon in early 2014.

Sky is the limit
Ramanan says, "Now the sky is the limit for the top."

And in spite of the high capital cost of the kit - Rs 20-cr - the Indigo 10000 can print up to 3,450 B2-format sheets/hour or 4,600 sheets/hour in enhanced productivity mode (EPM). EPM enables full-colour printing using just CMY, which reduces the press’s colour gamut by 10% but boosts production speed by one third.

The other thing, Ramanan affirms is, due to its built-in duplex mechanism means it is now possible to digitally print any size application, including pocket folders, six-page brochures and large lay-flat books.

Plus Ramanan says, the machine is "very green". This is because of new energy efficient techniques and the fact that the 10000 consumes less oil per page compared with other HP Indigo presses.

The breakeven point of the HP Indigo 10000 versus offset is around 2,500 B2 sheets which is approximately double that of the HP Indigo 7600, says Ramanan. It means "costs are 30% less than a 7600 and a 5600".

The menu for the future
Even as I exit from the unit, the discussion is about creating new product applications which will be showcased at the Photo Fair in Mumbai in January. The importance of lemon yellow is being stressed; in as much as metallic and fluorescent inks. There's talk of augmented reality and creative applications like raised ink technology to make the print "dynamic". 

The Glo team hopes that the new print recipes will tempt even the most hardened sceptics.