Printer in Transition: GSB Looks to White Electroink To Stay Ahead of the Pack

GSB | INC, a leading digital print service provider in Manhattan, was chosen in late December as a beta site for implementing Hewlett-Packard’s White Electroink. A technician, from HP’s Indigo division in Israel, flew to GSB to install the newest version of HP Press Software, as well as the necessary hardware required to utilize the white ink technology, on the company’s HP Indigo 5500.

Since the installation GSB has been able to print on several approved substrates including a variety of digital colored stocks provided by Mohawk Fine Papers. The technology tries to emulate current offset and flexographic white ink methods by printing a base white onto colored stocks as opposed to relying on knockouts. Mechanically, only small alterations are made to the press itself which dedicate one ink tank, one bid, and one solid add unit specifically to the white ink process. These additions allow the Electroink to run without any threat of color contamination.

The technology has presented many new innovative applications for GSB. “We’re talking to key clients about producing new products,” noted President Stephan Steiner, adding that his company has been committed to digital printing since its inception and will remain committed to that technology and to the New York City market despite the past rough year for the industry. While other printing companies have left the area, GSB remains in Manhattan and expects an uptick in business in the first quarter compared with the same time last year.

“We’re looking at the social stationery market with this new technology. We can print white ink on red, 100-lb. stock, that’s a big differentiator” from other printing companies, he noted.

Showcased in February at Dscoop5, GSB was able to produce a variety of new products, everything from custom greeting cards to new transparent options on vinyl adhesive materials. Being the only white ink available for sheetfed digital presses, the technology brings added value and options that have never been available before. However, understanding the process from both the setup and print side has been, as with any new technology, a learning experience.

Client education on file setup has been a key part in utilizing white ink. Files must be set up to accommodate a spot color. This has added hiccups to working in a total PDF workflow. Though still possible, it is preferred at GSB to work directly from native files. Other obstacles include achieving a true opaque white over a range of colored stocks. The color of the stock being printed dictates the number of hits needed to create a true opaque white ink. GSB and HP have found that the number of white ink hits required to achieve the desired opacity averages around three to four hits.

“It wasn’t a hard transition for the staff,” he added. “HP installed the hardware and software for us.”

GSB’s most recent triumph with white ink involved printing a two-sided window cling on a low tack vinyl adhesive. This internal project was the result of 17 hits of the HP Electroink (four-color process for the reverse image, four hits of white, one blackout layer, four more hits of white, and four-color process for the front image) printed on one side of a clear material to create a right- reading image from both sides.

It is projects such as these that GSB feels bring innovation and value to clients looking to differentiate themselves in the marketplace.

The Year Ahead

“We expect growth over the next year,” said Steiner. And with innovative technologies such as HP’s white ink, GSB expects to be a out in front of the pack.

GSB is a marketing services company comprised of three graphic design and production business areas: Digital, Commercial, and Large Format. Additionally, the company’s flagship division, GSB|Legal, provides litigation support services, including Forensics, Electronic Discovery and Image Capture, to top New York City-based law firms.