Responding to increased demand for agile and personalised printing products, Blue Star Direct, a division of the IVE Group, has spent $5.5m expanding and upgrading its digital fleet with a new HP T370HD PageWide Web Press in Sydney and upgraded unit in Melbourne.
The investment also included Blue Star sending the original HP PageWide T300 to its factory in Melbourne’s Clayton where it was upgraded to a T370D with 80 per cent of its parts and materials reused resulting in a significantly increased lifespan for the press.
Blue Star Direct joined forces with HP last week to launch its new set up turning its Homebush factory into a funky party venue complete with a cranking DJ, canapes and champagne with one of the HP PageWide T370HD web presses hard at work as the back drop.
The event gave Blue Star Direct’s clients, largely from the retail and financial sectors, the opportunity to learn more about the possibilities of the HP PageWide Web Press, and how its water-based high definition print head technology has closed the gap between conventional commercial printing and traditional inkjet production.
Supported by a complete commercial printing production line, including inline priming, post coating and automated sheeting, the PageWide’s High Definition Nozzle Architecture (HDNA) enables Blue Star Direct to print on a wide variety of uncoated and coated substrates with top-of-class productivity and efficiency.
Blue Star Direct chief executive officer Cliff Brigstocke said the capabilities of the HP PageWide T370HD mean direct and transactional mail is no longer limited to A4 and A3 sizes but can now go right up to A1 and at speeds 10 times faster than previously seen.
“The really exciting part is using the valuable data that our customers are gathering day by day, we are really going to improve what we can do and save on these variable pieces including personalised publications, magazines and catalogues. We are going to be able to put whatever information you want on that, at speed, and in full colour,” Brigstocke told the gathering.
“We are here for the industry but we are also here to support our customers with technology that can make a difference.
“We strive to create competitive advantages, yes for business, but also our rationale is that our customers have got an advantage and they will stay with us for longer making us a sustainable business.”
The acquisition comes eight years after the company became a pioneer HP inkjet customer in Australia, with its 2011 purchase of the HP PageWide Web Press T300. It says the decision to continue its long-standing partnership with HP came down to quality, speed, and unique differentiation.
HP South Pacific managing director Michael Boyle emphasised the speed of the press and how this stands to benefit customers and emphasised the importance of HP’s relationship with Blue Star.
“The speed of this press as its currently standing means if it had a continuous supply of paper running, then in around about 15 hours that sheet of paper would arrive in Canberra to give you a sense of the speed that is involved here,” Boyle said.
“Blue Star was the first HP PageWide installation here back in 2011 and it’s nice to know once again for sustainability that particular press has now been moved to Melbourne and it’s been upgraded with the latest second generation print head technology and so we’ve actually got a twin system happening in both of the cities.
“This particular press sitting behind me is the first integrated solution in the world and that really shows once again how Blue Star continues to invest ahead of the curve and really wanting to make sure they are delivering the customer delights which is the beautiful print quality and sustainability when it’s needed and just in time.”
The collaboration has enabled Blue Star to become a market leader in personalised communications – a marketing channel the company says has experienced a resurgence in popularity – with a 2018 Roy Morgan Research report finding that close to 70 per cent of Australians read catalogues.
“Since 2011, we have used the high-quality output of HP PageWide technology, and its 30-inch print format, as a point of difference in the market, and we have enjoyed a lot of success as a result,” said David Veness, Group General Manager, Blue Star Direct.
“The wealth of customer data currently available to businesses, in conjunction with advancements in digital printing technologies, has fostered the beginning of a new era in mass personalised print communications.
“With our new HP PageWide technology, we can create highly personalised and targeted marketing campaigns, which deliver a far greater return on our customers’ marketing investment.”
Digital printing is increasingly being utilised for print jobs traditionally dominated by offset printing, like direct mail, for its flexibility and customisability. In North America, 60 per cent of direct mail is forecast to be produced using digital printing by 2020, up from just 45 per cent in 2015.
“As direct marketing continues to trend towards data-driven personalisation, printing service providers require presses that offer mass customisation at a competitive cost, and on a variety of media options,” said Michael Gillis, Country Manager, HP Indigo and PageWide Industrial, HP South Pacific.
“The HP PageWide Web Press T370HD delivers on each of these demands, while also offering outstanding image quality and enhanced productivity.”
HP says its PageWide Web Press solutions are ideal for personalised direct mail campaigns, but are also being utilised around the world for high-volume commercial printing, publishing, and corrugated packaging applications.
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