Revolutionizing printing with hp indigo: the future of digital offset

Hewlett Packard (HP) is a leading technology company that has made significant contributions to the digital printing industry. One of its most renowned divisions is HP Indigo, which revolutionized the world of printing with its innovative digital offset printing technology. In this article, we will explore the capabilities of HP Indigo, its unique printing process, the advantages and disadvantages of digital printing, and the various applications and substrates compatible with HP Indigo machines.

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What is HP Indigo?

HP Indigo, a division of HP's Graphic Solutions Business, was founded in 1977 by Benny Landa, considered the father of digital offset printing. HP acquired Indigo in 2001, and since then, it has become a pioneer in digital printing press technology. HP Indigo offers the widest printed output flexibility, ranging from postage stamp-sized prints to large building wraps.

Indigo started as a research and development farm, focusing on copier technology advancements such as sheet cassettes or trays. In the early 1990s, Indigo introduced its e-print technology, which revolutionized the world of offset printing by eliminating the need for intensive labor and expensive plate-making. The e-print system allows for direct printing from a computer file, reducing costs and time for short-run printing presses.

In 1995, Indigo introduced Omnius, which expanded the capabilities of e-print technology and laid the foundation for the multi-surface printing technology that HP Indigo is known for today.

How Does Indigo Printing Work?

Indigo printing stands out for its ability to replicate the quality and consistency of offset lithography. Unlike traditional printing methods, HP Indigo's printing process does not require printing plates. Instead, it uses thermal offset transfer through its Liquid Electrophotographic printing technology.

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The heart of Indigo printing is the ElectroInk, also known as Indigo Ink. This special ink blankets the target area and transfers onto the substrate with high detail. The ElectroInk turns into a smooth film that adheres to the material being printed on.

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What Is Indigo Ink Used For?

Indigo Ink eliminates the need for digital plates and enables the achievement of up to 97% of PANTONE colors. It offers a truly offset feel and can produce a wide range of colors, shades, and spot colors that other digital printing presses cannot replicate. Indigo Ink is highly versatile and allows for printing in extremely thin ink layers with the highest coverage and deepest color, while also being cost-effective in terms of ink usage.

HP Indigo offers the largest variety of inks among digital presses, with 17 different Indigo Inks available, providing a broad spectrum of color options.

Which Substrates Is an Indigo Machine Compatible With?

Indigo printing offers virtually endless possibilities when it comes to substrates. HP Indigo machines can print on both roll-fed and sheet-fed materials, making them compatible with a wide range of substrates. Some of the substrates that can be printed using HP Indigo include:

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  • Photo Paper
  • Canvas
  • Self-adhesives
  • Folding Cartons
  • Balloons
  • Plastic Cards
  • Wallpaper
  • Direct Mail
  • Tubes
  • Heat Transfer
  • Metalized

HP Indigo machines offer exceptional versatility, allowing for high-quality printing on various substrates.

What Is HP Indigo Certified?

The HP Indigo certification program is a collaborative effort between HP, substrate manufacturers, and HP digital press owners. The program aims to test and evaluate substrate compliance with Indigo printing presses. New substrates undergo a thorough evaluation process to determine their viability for Indigo printing. Once certified, the details of the certification are released to Indigo printing users, creating a knowledge database for owners to refer to when selecting substrates for their projects.

Available Applications for Indigo Printing

The applications for Indigo printing are vast, thanks to the broad media gamut offered by HP Indigo machines. The versatility of Indigo printing makes it an ideal choice for various industries and applications. Some of the available applications for Indigo printing include:

Commercial Printing

HP Indigo outperforms other digital printing presses in commercial printing. With its extensive color gamut and unmatched speed-to-quality ratio, HP Indigo produces commercial prints of exceptional quality and consistency. The ability to print on a wide range of media and substrates further enhances its versatility.


Indigo printing dominates the label printing market, with over 80% market share. The unique features of Indigo printing, such as spot checking colorwork and quick drying time, make it ideal for label printing. HP Indigo machines offer options for full sleeves and in-mold labels, allowing for innovative and visually appealing label designs.

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Folding Cartons

HP Indigo machines offer specific options for printing on folding cartons. From supply chain management watermarks to multilayered unique ID protection, Indigo printing can meet the diverse needs of the folding carton industry. Its versatility and ability to print on various substrates make it an excellent choice for folding carton printing.

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Flexible Packaging

Digitally printed flexible packaging is a rapidly growing segment in the printing industry, and HP Indigo is leading the way in this field. With over 250 vendors designing substrates ready for Indigo printing, HP is driving innovation in on-demand flexible packaging. HP Indigo machines are not only delivering high-quality prints but also working towards environmentally friendly printing processes.

Advantages of Indigo Printing

Indigo printing offers numerous advantages that set it apart from other printing methods:

  • Widest variety of inks: HP Indigo provides the largest range of inks, allowing for the production of up to 97% of PANTONE colors.
  • Versatility in substrates: Indigo printing can be done on a wide range of substrates, providing endless possibilities for creative projects.
  • Quality independent of speed: Unlike other digital printing presses, HP Indigo maintains print quality regardless of printing speed.
  • Certification program: The HP Indigo certification program ensures that substrates are compatible with Indigo printing presses, providing a reliable resource for substrate selection.

Disadvantages of Indigo Printing

While Indigo printing offers numerous advantages, there are a few potential drawbacks to consider:

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  • Substrate compatibility: If a substrate or paper stock is not Indigo-approved, it may not work well with Indigo printing presses.
  • Raised printing limitations: For an authentic raised lithograph feel, a heavier run may be required, depending on the desired effect.
  • Cost considerations: Depending on the print job requirements, other printing methods may be more cost-effective for certain run sizes and deadlines.

Digital Printing vs. Offset Printing

While Indigo printing offers numerous advantages, it is essential to consider the differences between digital printing and traditional offset printing methods. Digital printing, including Indigo printing, provides the best of both worlds, combining the benefits of digital technology with the quality of offset printing. However, there are still some differences to consider:

Some users have found that raised Indigo Ink may not have the same glossy finish as offset printing on coated substrates. Additionally, the choice between digital and offset printing may depend on personal preferences or specific project requirements.

In conclusion, HP Indigo has revolutionized the printing industry with its innovative digital offset printing technology. The versatility, quality, and efficiency of HP Indigo machines make them a top choice for various applications, including commercial printing, labels, folding cartons, and flexible packaging. With its wide range of inks and compatibility with different substrates, HP Indigo continues to push the boundaries of digital printing.

Whether you need high-quality prints for commercial purposes or innovative packaging solutions, HP Indigo offers the capabilities to meet your needs. Experience the possibilities of HP Indigo and unleash your creativity with this groundbreaking digital printing technology.

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