Darmstadt University, Heidelberg Extend ‘Functional Printing’ Research Program

HEIDELBERG, GERMANY—08/17/2010—The Institute for Printing Presses and Printing Methods (IDD) at Darmstadt University of Technology and Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG (Heidelberg) are extending their joint research program till 2012. The two partners have been working on a “functional printing” development project since 2007.

The main aim of the project is to develop new applications for the print media industry. This involves devising new surface-finishing technologies that enable print shops—and packaging printers in particular—to stand out from the crowd. “Functional” here means properties that enhance the print medium, such as new, decorative, visual, electrical and electronic functional characteristics.

The first three years of collaboration successfully culminated in predevelopment work for new decorative elements and simple display elements known as demonstrators. Examples include display elements based on electroluminescence or thermochrome inks that can be used for special effects on packaging and a display stand with light effects for use at the point of sale.

“Our motivation is based on developing a feel for what the market of the future needs and investigating this using feasibility studies,” explains Manfred Jurkewitz, Head of Research and Development at Heidelberg.

Research work is currently devoted to new applications for the print media industry. The first examples are promising and include effects with structural coating and special optical effects in 3D.

“We are looking to develop further visual effects and applications that lie between the print applications of today and organic electronics applications of the future,” says Professor Edgar Dörsam, Director of the IDD, describing the joint research.

Heidelberg is providing the relevant printing technology for the project—a Gallus RCS 330-HD rotary press. The press is tailored to development needs and has been configured accordingly. It has four printing stations and four printing processes – flexographic, screen, offset and gravure. The printing units for the individual processes are separate modules that can be operated in every position of the printing stations. The sequence of processes is therefore freely configurable and can thus be adapted to numerous requirements for new applications. Space for further equipment such as dryers and special measuring technology is available between the individual printing stations.

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