More than 150 owners and prospective owners of HP PageWide Web Presses gathered in San Antonio TX this month to learn about the latest HP announcements, network with peers and attend educational sessions. HP took feedback from last year’s conference into consideration in planning this one, and the results reflected those efforts. While the agenda was packed, it felt more relaxed than last year and there was more time for the all-important networking. I was also very impressed that Eric Wiesner, Vice President and General Manager for the PageWide Web Press business at HP, was very engaged and accessible throughout the entire event, making himself available to any attendee who had items to discuss.

A big draw to the event was hearing first-hand about the multitude of drupa-related announcements from both the HP PageWide and HP Indigo businesses. Both Patrick Henry and David Zwang have written extensively about these.  You can find Patrick’s insight here and here; and David’s here and here. While I won’t go into detail here since my colleagues have already done such a thorough job, there were a few things that really stood out for me.

  • It’s approaching a quarter of a century since Benny Landa unveiled Indigo presses at IPEX, and it is amazing to see the ongoing vitality in the product line, which has been significantly expanded since last drupa. This includes an increasing focus on packaging applications.
  • Packaging is also a growing part of the PageWide Web Press portfolio as well, with two presses focused on the corrugated market and the approaching launch of its new High Definition Nozzle Architecture (HDNA) print heads, which will boost quality even more, will add more momentum to the packaging efforts.
  • HP’s PrintOS announcement stands to bring some significant workflow changes to the industry. HP’s Simon Lewis talks about it here. This cloud-based production management operating system will support Indigo, PageWide Web and third-party presses, and will make it easy for both HP and third-part apps to be integrated for increasingly productive and customized workflows.

The focus on packaging by no means has taken HP’s attention off of core document-based solutions for direct and transactional mail, book printing, and marketing collateral. These all-important drivers of inkjet volume are still clearly top of mind at HP.

I was also happy to see a strong focus on post-press at the event, with well-attended sessions presented by both Magnum Digital Solutions and Hunkeler (with its partner Standard Finishing). And substrates, of course, were a big topic of discussion, with plenty of actionable insight shared by Inkjet Genie Mary Schilling in terms of best practices for testing inkjet coated papers.

As always, the customer panels and presentations by industry experts Marco Boer on the state of the industry and Mary Schilling on color management for inkjet (with a customer panel) were a big hit, as was Pat McGrew’s session where she shared a variety of real customer applications from around the globe that were produced using HP PageWide Web Presses.

Events like this are also made possible by the participation of partners, and there were a number of HP partners at the event, including suppliers representing workflow, substrate, post-press and more. The event layout gave these partners plenty of access to attendees throughout the event.

The attendees I spoke with were very pleased with the content and opportunities presented by Jetcomm 2, and many were heading to Dscoop 11, which immediately followed Jetcomm 2.  Details for Jetcomm 3 are not yet available. HP will be conducting a member survey soon to both gain feedback on Jetcomm 2 and better understand member preferences for the next conference, which is likely to be held either preceding or during Dscoop 12 in Phoenix, March 2-4.

HP will also be holding a compressed Jetcomm event at drupa which will bring this valuable content to HP PageWide owners from other parts of the world who were unable to attend Jetcomm 2.

Production inkjet is clearly gaining market maturity, and conferences like Jetcomm 2 keep the enthusiasm and creativity around its possibilities flowing. I, for one, am looking forward to drupa this time, where production inkjet will again play a significant role. While inkjet is not likely to replace offset anytime soon, it is increasingly creeping into the range of applications that were historically in the offset domain as well as opening the door to brand-new applications and new ways of thinking about existing applications. It is one of the factors that is keeping the printing industry vital and exciting.

See y’all at drupa 2016!  If you are not going, you can follow the action at WhatTheyThink’s dedicated drupa site: