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Interview with Shane Lucas on Latex Ink technology

Shane Lucas, HP's director Graphic Arts South Pacific spoke to Wide Format Online recently on the subject of the company's Latex ink technology and what we can expect from HP in the near future.

WFOL: Regarding the recent announcement about the Latex L65500 machine distribution, why did you choose not to go through your established distributor, Anitech?

SL: Given the broad appeal of the latex machine into many markets we decided to operate a multi reseller channel for this product, there was no decision by HP to not work specifically with Anitech.
WFOL: One can only presume that Anitech have invested heavily in training support engineers, can you give some guarantees that customers of these other distributors would receive the same support or better? 


 Shane Lucas

SL: Anitech have no trained engineers on Latex, all our resellers are required to achieve a minimum requirement for technical support before they are able to repair HP machines which give the customer the confidence of service no matter what partner they choose. 
WFOL: When do you foresee additional Latex machines becoming available?

SL: At this stage any information on additional products is within HP planning confidentiality, however the current product will the first of a range of latex machines to come. 
WFOL: When I attended the HP Pre Drupa Event in Tel-Aviv last year, one couldn't help get the impression that HP foresaw Latex ink machines in conjunction with your Wide Scan and Optical Media Advance technology taking over from your solvent range due to price, speed, quality, range of compatable media and eco friendliness, etc.
Is this still the long term goal of HP? If so, what about all the solvent machines you are currently selling, isn't this a bit of a conflict of interest for HP?

SL: Regardless of what we believe will be the future of technology, we are currently and will continue to sell a breadth of product that meets customer needs. We currently have a successful history selling solvent machines and solvent remains a strong technology in many countries for various reasons. In Sth Pacific we see a heavy lean towards UV at the moment no doubt and we offer both a solvent and UV solution in some products. Latex is a technology that provides for a clean and green solution for those whom value this, it is currently available in a limited format and solvent is available in numerous formats. I do not see a conflict of interest here, I see HP addressing the many needs of many clients from a single and reliable vendor who is investing in the signage business not just simply following.
WFOL: Can you indicate the price of Latex Inks relative to your Solvent range, an average difference? 

SL: Latex is a much less expensive option inkwise.  Our latex inks are approximately 50% less than our solvent inks currently.
WFOL: Do you have a white ink in the Latex range?

SL: No there is no specific white Ink on Latex 
WFOL: Due to the rapid drying of the inks, can the L65500 be used for fabrics as well as conventional roll to roll media?

SL: Currently there are no fabrics certified on Latex 
WFOL: How many installations of the L65500 do you have around the world? 

SL: There are a number of Beta sites that have been running up to now and we expect to ship our first customer units in the coming 12 weeks so worldwide we are still in the process of rolling out the technology 
WFOL: Is the 1st Australian installation due shortly? 

SL: Yes we expect to have the first demonstration unit installed this week and the remaining units by end of March 
WFOL: If Latex technology is that good, is it possible it could replace Dye & Pigment ink over time?

SL: Latex is based on similar aqueous based inks as our other smaller DesignJet large format printers. With the latex compound, anything in possible.  However the current dye and pigment based machines are well equipped to address the technical, creative and photo markets with their respective optimised ink technologies. It is unlikely in the near future that latex will replace dye and pigment ink. 
WFOL: Is the next machine to utilise Latex ink going to be one of the Grand Format printer, or is it going to be in the smaller machines?

SL: I am unable to comment on this at this stage 
WFOL: You have a Residual Value Scheme in operation for the HP Indigo presses, does that apply to your Wide Format printers as well. If so can you briefly describe how this works?

SL: HP offers numerous competitive finance options including operating leases.  These are available on both Indigo and wide format. They are flexible operating leases and as we own our finance company (HPFS) we are well positioned in taking residual positions that make the monthly offering extremely competitive and attractive for our customers. 
WFOL: Do you see the Residual Value of Wide Format printers moving up or down in future years?

SL: I do not see any particular trend changes in secondhand digital machines’ values. I do think that as digital grows more and more market share this will put pressure on the secondhand value of analogue machines.  
WFOL: Memjet Home and Office in the USA have stated that they are working with major printer manufacturers to integrate their technology into new printer models. Can you advise if HP is one of those printer manufacturers. If so, what are your timing predictions for bringing that technology to the WF market.?

SL: I have no specific knowledge of such a relationship. 
WFOL: What else does HP have up its sleeve for product launches in 2009 and beyond? 

SL: We will have some exciting products released this year around PacPrint beyond the current Latex release that I think will impress. There are a number of new models being released in the Designjet range, a new large Scitex flat bed and also a new web fed Indigo press. 
WFOL:  Is there anything else you would like to add?

SL: I suggest all our customers and prospective customers come along to PacPrint and see the enormity of the HP offering.  HP is a +$100billion company and continues to develop and release new technology regardless of global conditions. We do this because of our financial strength and our commitment to R&D.  There is no doubt in my mind that HP cannot only provide our customers the ability to print anything from postage stamps to building wraps and everything in-between but also provide them the security that we will be here in the future to continue to supply and support them.