Interview with HP’s Santiago Morera prior to the opening of the FESPA Asia Expo.
Both Visual Impact magazine and Wide Format Online were invited by HP to conduct interviews with their senior executives, namely Santiago Morera and Gido van Praag.
Rob Griffiths, the editor of Visual Impact and Brian Stickland, the editor of Wide Format Online magazine decided to do the interviews jointly in order to maximise the opportunity for all parties.
We interviewed Santiago first.
Santiago Morera is the vice president and general manager, Large-format Printing Business, part of the Imaging and Printing Group at Hewlett-Packard Company
Rob Griffiths - With the release of Memjet technology, are HP looking at Memjet down the track, have they experimented with it, are we likely to see HP printers using this technology anywhere in the future?
Santiago Morera - Well of course we have looked at Memjet in the same way we have looked at other competing technologies and we have looked at the market in terms of the other technologies, its part of our obligation. If the question is do we have plans to use Memjet technologies, the simple answer is that we think we have excellent inkjet technology as it stands at present.
Brian Stickland - Metallic inks, are there any plans to introduce these for the Latex printers?
Santiago Morera - We are looking at it, but at this point I will not commit that it is something we want to introduce. There are many avenues to pursue with Latex including white inks and metallic inks but this is not an area I would like to comment on at this point. We continue to put a lot of investment into Latex. Brian in your exposure to the industry are you hearing about this subject?
Brian Stickland - No, the reason for the question is that we were talking about screen printing as a trade that's dying and one of the assets they have is the ability to print metallic inks. HP is hastening the demise of the screen printing industry and the ability to print metallic inks is one of the hurdles you will have to cross in order to fully compete with the screenprinters.
Santiago Morera - We have our UV assets, these are a very viable alternative to screenprinting.
Brian Stickland - Is HP still selling solvent machines?
Santiago Morera - Yes, we are selling the TurboJet, the 8350. We are not pushing the solvent machines but we will continue to sell them all the time there is a market for them. There is still a demand for some applications using solvent inks.
Rob Griffiths - What generation Latex ink are HP on now, is it second or third?
Santiago Morera - It depends on what you mean by generation but today we introduced the LX850 the second generation of inks, so it’s the second from that perspective right and improvement on HP Latex technologies.
Brian Stickland - What exactly are the improvements?
Santiago Morera - One is the black optical density, much better black, we have much better performance on fabrics, cyan ink improvement we have done, we have done improvements on the printers for media loading we have done double side printing, so at the end it’s about versatility with more applications, so its higher quality POP plus the improved water fastness.
Rob Griffiths - Is there going to be any expansion in your substrate offering?
Santiago Morera - Yes fabrics, polyesters, cottons, so we have a whole system not only the inks but even the way to load the media is much easier.
Brian Stickland – Is this third party media or are you expanding your own line?
Santiago Morera - It’s our own partially but again our promise of Latex is to have universal compatibility so we want to work with a lot of the other media available in the market. We have our own fabric media but if you look at our website at the media we support you'll see a lot of new fabrics being added. We provide a media guide on the web as to which fabrics work better with our products and you'll see some of the fabrics, polyesters mainly but others as well.
Rob Griffiths – On the subject of third party inks, how do you intend to compete. In order to maintain your margins, are you going to reduce the cost of your ink and increase the cost of the printers?
Santiago Morera - Our strategy is to provide enough value in the solution so that our customers do not feel the need to find a third party.
Of course some people may use third party but if you want a high quality indoor product then you must use HP ink, we put a lot of investment and IP in these inks in order to give you the best product.
With Latex if some customers want to trade off on quality and are prepared to sacrifice some of the properties or abilities, it may be okay to go with a third party ink. So if we see the day when we have a lot of third party success it means that we have not been able to provide the quality difference.
Brian Stickland – What is the difference between Latex and other water based inks. Are we talking the same thing?
Santiago Morera - We all know that it is extremely difficult to develop a water based ink that provides the qualities that our industry demands, ie quality, scratch resistance and durability. Latex is the only ink that has achieved this to date.
The differences between water based inks and solvent based technologies is common knowledge. We also know that water based inks are better for indoor applications.
Our main competitors have tried certain things and when you view a print it can look great however if will scratch very easily or will not have the durability that Latex offers.
Today all our customers have found the HP Latex proposition is good one. Now if in two years for example, if someone comes with an excellent ink with no trade offs, I would doubt that that's possible. It is more likely that people will then need to choose which trade offs they want to have, it could be quality or durability.
Rob Griffiths - How about the Chinese market, has Latex taken off there?
Santiago Morera - Yes and no, the market there is so huge it is very difficult to address because of the cost, quality and performance they choose. There is a portion of the market that demands high quality and we are selling very well into that market with our complete range of printers including the HP Indigo.
Brian Stickland - Where do you see the next technology leap in the wide format industry?
Santiago Morera - When HP entered this market the technology barrier that HP set would be much higher for our competitors since they do not have the resources of HP.
The barrier that we are setting with the high performance Scitex systems with twelve print heads working in a fast speed environment is a barrier for many companies
Only the most technologically advanced companies are able to compete.
For us we will continue increasing productivity.
Brian Stickland - The FB7600 is still a semi - automatic machine with manual loading, when are we going to see a fully automatic machine?
Santiago Morera - It would be relatively easy for us the create automatic loading and we will do this when the demand is there from our customers.