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Large-format, Commercial and Industrial Printing Solutions

HP SmartStream Designer makes variable data printing a snap for Gardners


“With HP SmartStream
Designer, we can use VDP
across all our HP printers,
and this has opened up opportunities we didn’t
see before.”

— Richard Gardner

Producing highly complex signage jobs depends on more than just advanced printing hardware. As complexity rises, so does the importance of advanced software. With the right software, digital printers can use features like variable data printing (VDP) to expand their offerings.

Quick Facts

  • Gardners uses the HP SmartStream Designer solution to enable expanded VDP capabilities.
  • The HP SmartStream Designer allows Gardners to complete complex VDP jobs within record time.
  • On one project, the HP SmartStream Designer solution reduced studio time by 70%.


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 »View pdf version of this story (EN only)

Richard Gardner knows this better than most. As chairman of Gardners, one of the world’s largest digital printing companies, he recognized that VDP could add value to wide-format printing. That’s why he adopted the HP SmartStream Designer solution to expand Gardners’ VDP capabilities.

“The proposition is to use VDP not just on jobs that have changing images, but also on other things that might be only internal,” says Gardner. “For instance, we use it to print files in collated order for easy packing for different branches, which is essentially ‘print to pack.’”

Variable printing expands possibilities

Recently, Gardner received a request from De Wild, a Dutch printing partner, that put his company’s expanded VDP capabilities to the test. De Wild’s client Gamma, a major do-it-yourself franchise chain in the Netherlands, needed a full set of in-store signage, including 750 different versions for 147 store locations.

Despite the logistical challenges associated with printing the approximately 63,000 different signs, Gardner knew that HP SmartStream Designer was up to the task.

Gardners used the HP solution to set up the job as 63,000 individual panels. That allowed each panel to be printed with a tiny code indicating exactly which region, store and aisle each sign would go to.

“It was exceptionally complicated because we had to prepare an enormous amount of information,” recalls Gardner, but, he adds:

Richard Gardner

“Once it got to
HP SmartStream Designer,
it became relatively
straightforward. ”

Time savings across the board

Virtually every department at Gardners benefited from using the HP SmartStream Designer solution for the massive job, which was printed on the company’s two HP Scitex FB7500 Printers. Studio time was reduced by an estimated 70 percent, and the finishing department gained by having all pieces automatically produced in the right order. The packing department also saved time because all pieces were numbered in sequence, eliminating the need to search for panels or boxes.

Marianne Harmsen, sales accountant at De Wild, says: “At first we were a bit concerned about getting every sign in the right order in the right boxes. Then Gardners told us about the HP system and there was no more worry. In the end, there were no issues. It went very well.”

In fact, Gamma reduced the time it needed to fit each store with new signage by about 75 percent compared with previous store refits.

The long-term value of VDP

The signage project for De Wild and Gamma has brought benefits to Gardners far beyond the single large order. According to Gardner, the VDP capabilities offered by the HP SmartStream Designer solution are helping his company attract and keep new customers.

“We are competing with screen, offset and other analog processes. So we can say to a customer, ‘You can personalize every banner or every outdoor graphic or every point of sale.’ That’s a huge sell against analog.” He says:

“We’ve found that whenever a customer has come from
analog to digital, they never go back. They get used to the
variable data possibilities—and they enjoy it. ”