Reinventing the photo lab: United Color Lab replaces silver halide with HP Indigo digital printing

Challenge

• Overcome declining market for traditional professional photo finishing lab services.
• Generate new business and meet requests from existing customers for new types of applications, such as layflat photo books, wedding announcements, and duplex proofing and keepsake booklets.

Solution
• One HP Indigo 5600 Digital Press with the heavy substrate option and Enhanced Productivity Mode (EPM) replaced six silver halide printers. The digital press is now used for all photography jobs and new applications such as personalized invitations and commercial printing.
• HP SmartStream Production Pro Print Server enables easy and efficient imposition and job ticket creation.

Results
• Within two weeks of installing the digital press, United Color Lab had stopped all silver halide production -- without customers noticing a change in their photo prints.
• UCL is seeing dramatic savings across multiple parameters: 45 percent lower electricity costs; about 25 percent lower materials costs for its mainstay product; and significantly reduced labor costs achieved by replacing six silver halide operators with one digital press operator.
• Following three years of constantly declining revenues, UCL stabilized its photography revenues within a f ew months. It captured $400,000 in additional photography-based revenues from one trade show and expects a substantial increase in new business from non-photography jobs in 2014.
• Fast job processing and printing enables more time for prepress, improving accuracy and reducing stress.

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