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Ganging up to change the economics of print

by Lior Krasnovsky, HP Indigo labels & packaging workflow and partners


Ganging up to change the economics of print

At Labelexpo Americas this past September, HP demonstrated a new multi-lane ganging capability on the HP Indigo 20000 Digital Press. This new feature, which was earlier previewed at drupa and in pre-drupa meetings, allows labels and packaging converters to print multiple different-sized jobs simultaneously, on the same roll.


With multi-lane ganging, multiple jobs can be staggered in lanes across the full width of the substrate, with no need to horizontally align the images to the beginning and end of every frame. This enables images to be imposed closer to each other, eliminating unnecessary space.


Pre-drupa VIP event attendees saw first-hand how multi-lane ganging enables different print jobs to be printed across the full width of the roll, with no need to align the images according to press frame.


In addition to maximizing use of the substrate and increasing productivity, multi-land ganging essentially allows HP Indigo users to get more prints for the click. Depending on the jobs, the media and click savings can bring costs down by as much as 15%.


Not exactly a free lunch, but close

That’s clearly significant, but the impact can go even further. And I’ll go so far as to say that multi-lane ganging can change the ROI model of the press.


That’s because if you are already running the press to print a job that uses only part of the width of the substrate on the web, then you can leverage the substrate, ink, time and click costs to print a different job across the rest of the width – with zero additional printing cost. Aside from the converting costs, it’s pure profit.


Where digital print-to-stock makes sense

Since the printing of those additional labels or packages is essentially free, print-to-stock becomes a viable option.


Yes, really.


It sounds counterintuitive to use digital technology to print more than is actually needed – especially after we have spent decades championing the exact opposite. But with the right jobs, particularly smaller labels in very long runs, it can make perfect sense.


When it comes to flexible packaging, with the wide range of different structures for different jobs, opportunities to use multi-lane ganging tend to be less common, But, depending on the job and application, it can still make sense – whether for an immediate job or for print-to-stock.


For example, candy is often sold in different-sized packs. While the immediate need may be just for the larger-size package, why not use multi-lane ganging to print the smaller size for stock?


To gang or not to gang

That said, it’s not always cost-effective to gang jobs.  HP Indigo provides a tool to analyze whether it makes sense to gang specific jobs, but the rule of thumb is that if 80% of the frame is already being used, then ganging will likely result in very little savings.


Coming soon

Multi-lane ganging is set to become available with the release of the next version of the HP Indigo 20000 Digital Press, scheduled for early 2017. Imposition for multi-lane ganging requires use of HP SmartStream Composer.


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About the Author
  • I sit at the crossroads of the HP Indigo technology development team and our customers, sharing knowledge and tools that help printing companies continue growing their business. I’ve been immersed in the world of digital printing since 2006, when I joined HP Indigo. In work and life, I’m passionate about old and new media, and the joys of raising four children.
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