Belmark Uses the HP Indigo WS6600 to Efficiently Produce Top-Shelf Labels and Packaging

Challenge: Belmark wanted to increase its substrate options and production efficiency.

Solution: Belmark turned to the HP Indigo WS6600 Digital Press—and its optional Inline Priming unit—for on-site priming, efficient production, and outstanding print quality.

Results: Using the HP Indigo WS6600 Digital Press and its optional Inline Priming unit, Belmark achieves top-quality results on a range of media, while reducing production time, costs, and waste.

Karl Schmidt, president of label and packaging printer Belmark, Inc., reveals a key driver of the company’s success in his philosophy: “You can’t be scared of technology in this business.”

During Belmark’s 35-year history, investment in progressive technology has helped the Wisconsin-based company print effective labels and packaging for food and personal care products, while maintaining its lean manufacturing practices.

To stay competitive, six years ago Belmark advanced its printing equipment, adding HP Indigo digital technology. Today it produces pressure-sensitive labels and folding cartons using two HP Indigo WS6000 Digital Presses—along with a recently purchased HP Indigo WS6600 Digital Press and optional Inline Priming unit.

Belmark added the HP Indigo WS6600 Digital Press and its optional Inline Priming unit to enhance its ability to efficiently produce a wide variety of vivid pressure-sensitive labels and folding cartons, as well as further streamline its lean production practices. Always forward thinking, Belmark is using its new HP Indigo technology to its full potential—and business is thriving.

Efficient production on diverse media

Meeting market demands and achieving efficient, resourceful production can be challenging in the labels and packaging industry. Thanks to the HP Indigo WS6600 Digital Press—and its optional Inline Priming unit—Belmark can print on a variety of media, while reducing production time, costs, and waste.

“The Inline Priming unit has been a great enhancement to reduce the inventory we need on hand and to get materials to the customer faster,” says Schmidt. “It allows us to run more unique materials with very short lead times.”

Before owning the optional Inline Priming unit, Belmark had to send out substrates to be primed offsite—a process that contributed to longer turnaround times. The unit can prime standard or untreated paper substrates in-house—eliminating the need for pre-planned substrate preparation and increasing the selection of readily available substrates. “The unit created a leaner model for materials from our suppliers, to us, to our customers,” explains Schmidt.

The production efficiency offered by the HP Indigo WS6600 and its optional Inline Priming unit also align well with Belmark’s lean manufacturing practices. “Anytime you can shorten the supply process, you’re taking a tremendous amount out of waste, time, any type of carbon footprint, and cost,” says Schmidt.

“The more waste you can take out of the process, the lesser the environmental impact.”

Outstanding print quality and color

The benefits of inline priming are not just limited to efficiency. The process also improves media for exceptional print quality, which helps the HP Indigo WS6600 deliver the sharp images and brilliant brand colors Belmark’s customers want.

According to Schmidt, priming in-house is more effective than priming off-site. “There’s a quality enhancement when priming at the source,” he says.

Once primed and ready to print, Belmark can easily produce rich colors and images to meet its customers’ specifications. “Our customers have extreme needs around color, predictability, and repeatability, so we tend to put more colors down than other companies do,” adds Schmidt.

Exclusive to HP Indigo technology, HP ElectroInk enables high-quality prints, a wide and accurate color gamut, sharp images, uniform gloss, and very thin image layers. The seven color stations on the HP Indigo WS6600 allow emulation of four, six, and seven colors—plus spot color printing. The press also supports white ink, which Schmidt says is important when customers request opaque tones.

“In my opinion, it’s comparable to the print quality of an offset press.”

Easy-to-operate digital workflows

“We recognized many years ago that the real advantage of digital printing would be taking steps out of the process before jobs hit the press,” says Schmidt. Working toward this ideal, Belmark developed its Web-to-Print and Web-to-Web services—online ordering, proofing, and processing services. Today, these services allow large volumes of orders to travel directly to the highly-automated HP Indigo WS6600, giving Belmark outstanding end-to-end productivity and speed to market.

“We do zero paperwork here. Our workflow is completely electronic,” says Schmidt.

Linked to Belmark’s online services, the HP Indigo WS6600’s print server is fully integrated with the Esko Automation Engine. This enterprise-ready solution integrates and automates all design and prepress activities into one workflow, enhancing data management and reducing operator intervention. “When you make the transposition of letters and numbers an electronic process, it reduces errors and increases speed,” says Schmidt.

Thinking ahead

For Belmark, being at the leading edge of labels and packaging technology is a key component for success, as it provides the company with progressive tools to serve its customers. And the company plans to invest in new HP Indigo digital presses again.

Schmidt concludes: “We’re very much a growth company, and we’ll continue to use HP Indigo technology as part of our growth strategy.”