Changing The Format

After its success story involving a range of large format printers, HP has now launched its new wide format printers for graphics and CAD professionals. Two printers in the DesignJet series were introduced at the Webcast launch which was broadcast from Sydney, Australia in September.
The two 600 dpi printers–the DesignJet ColorPro GA and DesignJet ColorPro CAD-let users print up to A3 sizes. The GA is targeted at design studios, advertising agencies, publishing companies and freelance graphic artists. “The printer enables graphics professionals to generate high-quality output irrespective of size,” comments Puneet Chadha, Asia Pacific business unit manager, Hewlett-Packard. The GA is estimated to be available at a price of $1,995. The ColorPro CAD is aimed at architects, mechanical and electrical engineers and GIS professionals. It will cost about $ 1,450. Both the printers will be available through resellers mid-November onwards.HP introduced its large format printers in 1996. These were targeted largely at two segments-technical and graphics. The technical segment comprises mainly of CAD professionals in architecture and construction, mechanical engineering and EDA. GIS has now entered this segment and is growing at a very high rate. The graphics group is made up of advertising agencies, publications and corporate communications. Both these groups require color prints in large sheets of size A2 and beyond. Typically the initial investment in such a printer, is in the range of a few lakhs. The cost of printing is also very high. With design emerging as a crucial process in the technical and graphics areas, large format printers too have evolved in terms of features and capabilities. 

HP has a wide range of large format printers that cost between Rs60,000 and Rs9,50,000. In three years, HP has emerged as a leader in the large format segment. World wide it has a 78% market share in the large format segment. In Asia Pacific this share is 75%. 
What is the world wide market of large format prints? According to HP, this market is projected to grow to a retail value of $63 b of which $23 b will be accounted for by digital prints. 
Generically, both the technical and graphics segments have two types of customers for large-format printers–those who print for their own use, and those who print for use by others. The print service providers and repro houses comprising the latter category take more than 30 prints per day on an average, says Puneet Chadha. So HP has focused programs for such print service providers the world over. It has developed the Certified Print Center program in this direction. This program aims to boost the print service provider (PSP) market by increasing the demand for large-format prints. HP works closely with PSPs to achieve this and now boasts of over 2000 PSPs who are members of this program. In Asia there are 370 members. The purpose is to help generate demands for large format prints. HP has also set up local CPC websites to enable PSP service their customers. In some countries, customers can send their files by email to the website and have the prints delivered to them. Getting large-format prints is thus being made easy for the end user. Such an approach helps HP deliver complete workflow solutions to the PSPs. HP has HP DeskJet online websites for the segment using large format prints for in-house use. The main focus is support for their HP large format printers.
According to Puneet Chadha, HP is also attempting to ensure that the cost of operation remains low. One of the approaches includes a decision to maintain two staggered large format platforms–performance and low end. So those users not requiring frequent high-end large format prints can get the low-end printers for their design conceptualizing. 
Training and development are the main strategies for HP. A DeskJet Business Partner Program has been launched by HP for this purpose. The program imparts members with professional training on business-related solutions. In India, HP is working closely with its resellers to make them DesignJet partners to target the small business segment in a more focused manner.
With the introduction of wide format printers, users now have a choice to go for high-end printing at lower costs. But with the initial price ranging between Rs65,000-Rs85,000 and a high cost per print, small offices and freelance professionals may not opt for these printers yet. However advertising agencies and publishing houses are likely to find the GA printer quite economical.
Suma E P
in Sydney, Australia

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