Technology in Focus: Digital Photo Specialty Product Production

HP Indigo digital printing technology is well-suited to digital photo production, and is gaining popularity in the digital photofinishing industry. Photo-specialty printing is one of HP Indigo’s fastest growing markets, with a 30% year-over-year increase for new HP Indigo press placements in photo specialty applications in 2009. In addition, HP Indio saw a 40% year-over-year increase in photo specialty page output during the photo industry’s peak-production season, October 1 to December 31.  Applications for photo specialty products are endless, and more products are hitting the marketplace all the time. Some possibilities include photo books, accordion folders, high-end cards, photo prints, and wall graphics.

Digital technology has “caught up” with traditional silver halide photo production: the HP Indigo can now offer archival-quality printing options, small runs, and inline finishing options. A print permanence study by Wilhelm Imaging Research (WIR), the respected industry authority on digital print longevity, gave HP Indigo pages printed on a gloss stock a WIR Permanence Rating of approximately 45 years, which outperforms the best silver halide paper on the market. The study also shows that HP Indigo photo book prints received a WIR Album/Dark storage rating of greater than 100 years.

To meet this exploding demand, HP has developed several flagship solutions specifically for the photo production industry. Many HP Indigo users are currently utilizing the HP Indigo WS6000, 5000, 5500, 7000 and 7500 to produce photo-specialty products. In addition, the HP Indigo 7200 offers improved color management and consistency specifically for high-volume printing of photo-specialty products like photo books. This digital sheet press offers blazing-fast production speeds of 240 four-color letter-size pages per minute, and volumes of up to 7.5 million pages per month. Other features include linked color management utilities and optional finishing systems for inline cutting; offset stacking of book blocks, and lamination.  Dry toner presses like the Xerox iGen and Kodak Nexpress also are capable of producing photo specialty products like books, prints, and cards.

If you are looking to integrate photographic products into your press offerings, Masterpiece Graphix can help with substrate selection, production consulting, and product development. Digital printers that desire a traditional high-gloss paper or cardstock product can achieve this by applying a UV or high-gloss laminate over the printed stock. These finishing options also add longevity to the print. If you are looking for a unique, luxurious look, MGX can also supply textured roll or sheet substrates that mimic the look of canvas, cloth, linen, metal, or vellum. Any substrate can be varnished or laminated to add durability and permanence to the printed product, or printed without a finishing solution to create more cost-effective option.

The possibilities for photo production are anything but limited to card and paper substrates. Emerging technologies include fabrics and pressure-sensitive stickers and wall graphics. Your Masterpiece Graphix sales rep can help you source and treat the digital materials you need for your specific photo application, whether it’s a traditional or off-the-wall product. For more information on all of our photo production substrate solution, please contact your MGX sales rep or email the sales team.