Heidelberg is extending its digital and software portfolio and pooling activities in this sector into the Digital division. The existing range will be enhanced with new products that will provide the ideal solutions for future market requirements.
By working with a number of partners and focusing on inkjet technology, Heidelberg is looking to develop new digital solutions for industrial commercial and packaging printing. The strategy dubbed ‘Synerjetix’ – stands for the joint development of industrialised ink jet production systems to enable printers to offer high-end, creative applications with reliable machinery that meets proven Heidelberg quality standards.
Stephan Plenz, Member of the Management Board responsible for Heidelberg Equipment explained, ‘We see inkjet technology as a driver for new applications inside and outside our industry. That’s why we are combining our know-how with that of our partners, and creating well-integrated systems. First and foremost, we want to work with our partners to improve the quality of inkjet applications and thereby increase our customers’ confidence in this technology.’
The first technology presentation is planned for this fall, when a label printing press that combines flexographic and inkjet printing will be unveiled as a cost-effective solution for producing short runs and customised labels. The new development comprises a digital inline printing system based on inkjet technology from Fujifilm, which is integrated into a label printing press from Gallus.
‘Today, just five percent of all labels are printed digitally. However, the demands for customised, cost-effective, and versatile printing solutions in this market segment are growing. We are working with our partners Fujifilm and Gallus to present a solution that will meet these demands perfectly,’ said Jason Oliver, Head of the Digital business unit at Heidelberg. ‘Applications for industrial commercial printing will follow in the next stage.’
In parallel with this development, Heidelberg and Fujifilm have initiated a joint project to develop new highly productive inkjet-based digital printing systems for use in commercial and packaging printing markets. Although digital printing based on electrophotography has come of age, industrialised ink jet systems for high quality, high productivity sheetfed applications are only now beginning to emerge.
To ensure that future developments can make full use of all the digital printing know-how available in the sector and beyond, Heidelberg has established an Advisory Council. The Council’s members include technology and market experts, digital users, and some of the company’s customers.
‘Providing a strong backbone for Heidelberg’s Synerjetix strategy, the Advisory Council ensures that our development work can benefit from unbiased, independent feedback, which will improve our development effectiveness, and shorten our time to market,’ said Oliver.
The Jetmaster Dimension from Heidelberg brings a new solution to the market that enables customised printing on three-dimensional objects. As a result, the company plans to drive new levels of cost efficiency, flexibility, and productivity in customised design options for mass-produced articles. Heidelberg has already found its first user in one of Europe’s leading online print shops, flyeralarm. Starting this fall, flyeralarm is planning to print standard sports balls in line with customer requirements and market them through its web portal.
Indeed, more and more end users are looking for personalised design options when shopping for mass-produced items such as sporting goods, footwear, furniture, and cars. High-quality printing with logos, text, and other graphic elements is usually their first choice. What’s more, the technology can also be used to print large-scale advertisements on airplanes, trucks, buses, and trams an application that currently requires labor intensive and costly film-based solutions.
When it comes to industrial production processes, manufacturers want a quick and cost-efficient way to apply customised messages, type designations, and batch numbers. Usually, these features are added right at the end of production, need to be of good quality, and also have to be applied to a whole range of products. At present, meeting all these requirements still requires a separate process step away from the production line.
Inkjet printing offers the ideal solution, as it can deliver high-quality results in a wide spectrum of colours on a broad variety of surfaces, without having to come into contact with the product. The Jetmaster Dimension from Heidelberg is an integrated solution that enables users to print high-quality, customised motifs cost-effectively on all sorts of items, with the option of multicolour printing soon to be added. The type of surface that is being printed determines the most suitable print head and ink.
During the initial stages, all sales activities will be handled through the head office of Heidelberg. Customers who are interested in a Jetmaster from Heidelberg can find out more by emailing 4D@heidelberg.com. Heidelberg will also provide the corresponding services and consumables, thereby giving users a single point of contact.
Heidelberg customers are already benefiting from digital printing and software solutions that originally grew from in-house projects or collaborations and have undergone consistent development. For example, Heidelberg is now entering its fourth year in its strategic partnership with the Japanese company Ricoh.
Heidelberg offers the highly developed digital printing systems from Ricoh under the names Linoprint C 901 and Linoprint C 751. The systems support customers in combined digital-offset applications and short run printing and can be integrated into the Prinect print shop workflow via the Prinect Digital Print Manager.
With more than 400 Linoprint C digital printing systems already sold worldwide, Heidelberg has highlighted its expertise as the only conventional press manufacturer in the industry to successfully market integrated digital and offset applications.
‘The three-year partnership with Ricoh has been an all out success. When it comes to digital printing, we now have a global sales and service network through which we can expand our market options,’ said Oliver. ‘Customers who have bought solutions from our Linoprint C range are tapping into new value-added business opportunities, such as hybrid applications that utilise both offset and digital technologies in combination.’
With the Prinect print shop workflow, Heidelberg is the only supplier in the print media industry to offer a software package that integrates all the management and production processes of a media service provider. Heidelberg has also been expanding its portfolio for years through partnerships and acquisitions.
Today, the company’s offerings range from web-to-print portals and prepress solutions to pressroom and post-press technology. ‘Virtually every single piece of equipment that Heidelberg offers includes Prinect components. Prinect is a genuine success story and offers our customers in the commercial and packaging printing sectors crucial support in boosting efficiency and lowering costs. There are already some 800 media companies around the world currently using Prinect integration solutions,’ said Oliver.
At the end of last year, in a move to gain a foothold in the growing multi-channel publishing segment, Heidelberg acquired a stake in Siegen-based German software manufacturer Neo7even. Heidelberg aims to use Neo7even software to open up new business options for print shops, enabling them to offer their customers media-neutral publishing services, for example in print and online, on a wider scale in the future. The new portfolio ties in closely with Prinect and is being gradually integrated into this.
‘Ultimately, all our digital activities have one common goal: we want to ensure that our customers have a successful and profitable future and continue to secure a sustainable business for Heidelberg,’ said Oliver.