What’s the Advantage? A new inkjet press from HP PageWide Industrial

By Elizabeth Gooding / Published:

Last week, HP invited leading inkjet analysts to Corvallis, Oregon for the unveiling of their latest press technology, the HP PageWide Advantage 2200 with HP Brilliant InkTM, which was announced to the market today. The group included Inkjet Insight contributors Mary Schilling, Pat McGrew and Marco Boer of I.T. Strategies who were interviewed for this article. Together we walked about three miles in HP’s shoes while viewing the finished press along with the impressive on-site R&D and testing labs, and interviewing the many experts that contributed to the launch of the new press.

While I knew that HP had new inkjet technology in the pipeline, I didn’t expect it to be a 22 inch press configured to serve the high end of the inkjet application market. I was surprised because HP’s last big announcement was the HP PageWide Web Press T250 HD which also focused on that same, stretch-goal market requiring compatibility with offset coated stocks, heavy ink coverage and delivering exceptional print quality. However, as the details of the technology and the strategy behind it became clear so did the advantages behind the Advantage 2200. Before we dig into the specifics of the press, let’s take a step back and look at some strategic positioning.

Inkjet Portfolios and Platforms

Since HP’s first PageWide Web Press was installed at O’Neil Digital Solutions back in 2009, HP has developed an expansive inkjet portfolio covering a wide array of commercial applications as well as corrugated pre-print and post-print applications. Some of these presses were built with an extendable “platform” approach that enables HP to strategically spin off new presses to meet specific needs using market-tested technologies as building blocks. In the case of the HP T-series platform, since 2009 HP delivered press models covering 20, 30 and 40 inch press width as well as a series of upgrade options for each press including most recently High Definition Nozzle Architecture (HDNA) and Brilliant Inks. The commitment to supporting a continuous upgrade path has enabled companies like O’Neil to keep the same press in production, and delivering competitive output, for over a dozen years. That’s the power of a platform.

According to Kristin Albee, Global Marketing Strategist, HP PageWide,HP’s T-series is a platform, and the Advantage is our newest platform that HP will use to build different models off of in the future.” My immediate question was, “what about the old platform?” The good news that HP plans to continue to innovate on the T-series platform concurrently with launching the Advantage. The Advantage platform makes use of many of the proven technologies, such as HDNA thermal print heads and Brilliant ink, developed for the T-series wrapped in a new, compact, modular architecture that HP describes as being developed “from the ground up.”

Small Footprint. Big Impression.

Anyone who is familiar with the iconic print arch of the T-series presses will note that half the arch is missing from the Advantage 2200 footprint. Removing half of the printbars and moving many other components outside of the arch enables drying capacity and other components to be easily added per customer needs and results in a press footprint of 20.5W x 57.75L x 8.52H in feet or 6.24W x 17.60L x 2.59H in meters. These dimensions are for a maximized configuration with all Advantage components, optional unwinder, rewinder, and recommended moisturizer. The length can be reduced to 47 feet with fewer components installed.  Mary Schilling, who has worked on HP T-series presses for many years, pointed out that in addition to the smaller foot print, “The new configuration keeps the convection head isolated, separating heat and moisture from the printheads. This provides a kinder environment for printheads which could result in greater longevity and less frequent, lower cost maintenance.” Note the uniformity of the components in the picture below. Drying and cooling units fit in the same type of cabinet which standardizes manufacturing. (Web cooling is very slightly wider than HED units.)

Smaller, configurable footprint suitable to different application types

The press can be configured with one, two or three drying zones and either active or passive cooling.  The High Efficiency Drying (HED) units deliver heat close to the web and provide a moving layer of air that reduces stress on the substrate. The HED not only moves large volumes of air, but it recirculates up to 80 percent of the air which reduces power costs per printed page.  The press does not require the high volume exhaust system seen on some other production presses. Two web cooling options are available to help maintain consistency from side to side by reducing the temperature of the web after the first side is printed and before the second side passes through the printing arch, and comes into play again on the second pass. Passive cooling is suitable, with two drying zones, for environments using uncoated stocks and a single dryer. Active cooling, with three dryer zones, is needed to support heavy coverage and offset coated stocks. While multiple configurations are available, it’s likely that customers seeking the capability boost of the Advantage 2200 over the T250 HD will opt for two or more dryers and active web cooling to open up the greatest range of production and speed. Mary also notes, “The new configuration uses non-contact rollers to transport freshly printed media . This is different from the T-series presses. The paper path increases the dwell time between passes and, along with the HED ‘air cushion’ approach gives heavy coverage prints proper dry time while reducing stress on the paper.“ (See graphic below)

Pat McGrew said, “I was impressed with the engineering. Reducing the number of parts and extending the maintenance cycle are advantages that any print company will understand. It ticks the boxes for reduced footprint with modular extensibility, fast installation, reduced time to the first sellable page, and easy maintenance.”

The new paper path provides increased dwell time to fully leverage improved drying and cooling.

The Need for Speed – and Quality

The Advantage 2200 continues the tradition of multiple options to balance cost and quality by varying speed and drop weights. From fastest to slowest they are:

  • Mono Performance mode (delivers high quality black/mono using single, or high, drop weights): up to 800 ft (244 m) per minute
  • Performance mode (delivers high quality CMYK using single, or high, drop weights): up to 500 ft (152 m) per minute
  • Performance HDK mode (delivers higher quality using dual drop weights on black ink and single drop weight on CMY ink): up to 500 ft (152 m) per minute
  • Quality mode (Quality mode delivers the highest quality using dual low and high drop weights): up to 333 ft (101 m) per minute

It’s notable that the press is 33 percent faster than the T250 HD in quality mode and 60 percent faster in mono performance mode. The press offers a native resolution of 2400 nozzles per inch using the HP B62 High Definition Nozzle Architecture, including up to 8x nozzle redundancy. The maximum printable width is 20.5 inches (521 mm) and the maximum printable frame length is 72 inches (1829 mm). Marco Boer notes, ““The HP Advantage 2200 specifications are generally competitive with its industry peers, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. It’s a simpler device, with fewer moving parts, and for extreme usage with heavy ink coverage and heavy weight papers, it is 30-100% more productive than most of its peers.”

The press is highly versatile supporting paper weights from 40 gsm to 300 gsm/14 pt. and uses HP Optimizer pretreatment to enable compatibility with offset coated and uncoated grades. Pretreatment has become increasingly important in an uncertain and inconsistent paper environment. The combination of the hardware advances with HP Optimizer and Brilliant inks allows the press to tackle the highest coverage jobs on the most challenging papers. “It’s the performance at the extremes that may well cause this first generation of the HP Advantage platform to become the catalyst towards the tipping point from offset to digital print,” Marco explained. Pulling volume from offset presses is squarely in the wheelhouse of the press. HP provided productivity proof points on a variety of media spanning applications such as booklets, flyers, folder mailers, mono trade books, and magazines.  Mary adds, “While I have not had an opportunity to do a full print quality analysis, I have analyzed color profiles from the Advantage 2200 on coated media that exceeded the FOGRA 39 color space.”

The Productivity Advantage

The productivity that an inkjet user experiences is a combination of the speed and uptime of the press, as well as the range of work that can be run on it. The architecture of the Advantage 2200 makes it adaptable to a wide range of demanding applications. Companies who don’t need the “extreme” coverage capabilities or speed boost may want to consider a T-series, or a competing press model. But before making the decision on price tag alone, consider the up-time and ease of use benefits offered by the Advantage. “We’ll have to wait and see, but IT Strategies expect its uptime, due to its relative design simplicity, to exceed its peers,” says Marco. Pat adds, “The new platform includes an updated Digital Front End (DFE) that can almost plug and play with existing workflows, a big timesaver at installation.”  The DFE server architecture has been consolidated along with providing support for the HP Color Vision System with HP Quality Image Check (QUICK) Vision System Color Calibration.

O’Neil Digital Solutions, who continued their heritage of being a first-mover on new HP technology was running production on the press within 2 weeks. Another pilot customer, SG 360 was up and running in a week and reported printing over 20 million images on the press during their first weeks of production. The press became commercially available today and HP has already take additional orders.

The intelligent simplicity of the HP PageWide Advantage 2200 balances flexible and compact configuration with easy installation and robust capabilities with an intuitive user interface. The press promises an upgrade path consistent with HP’s past practices reducing investment risk. You can find a summary of the press specifications, and compare to other presses on Device Finder or use the QR code below to download a spec sheet from HP.

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About the Author

Elizabeth Gooding

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Elizabeth is the Editor and Co-founder of Inkjet Insight. She has a rare ability to see print related issues from many perspectives. She has managed creative teams on complex design projects, selected outsourcers for major brands and helped print organizations to retool operations, focus their market positioning and educate sales teams to accelerate growth. She works with a team of top analysts to translate experiences into tools, data and content to help print organizations evaluate the potential of inkjet, optimize their operations and grow pages profitably. She is a founding member of the Inkjet Summit advisory board, the co-author of an award-winning book on designing for inkjet and a curious consultant constantly seeking innovative ways to drive new pages onto inkjet presses.

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