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Digital Digest: Heidelberg Digital Sneak Peek Reveals New Strategy

May 2014 By Mark Michelson, Editor-in-Chief
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In addition, in what it hails as a new 4D printing solution called the Jetmaster Dimension, Heidelberg has developed an inkjet-based device designed to print on three-dimensional objects. The first customer will be online European print shop flyeralarm, which will use its Jetmaster Dimension to personalize soccer balls.

The next phase of the technology, combined with robotics, should enable Heidelberg to enter new industrial industries—like automotive, public transportation and aerospace—and consumer goods markets such as bottles. With the ability to print on curved surfaces, Jetmaster Dimension could be used to print customized, full-color graphics and advertisements on cars, trucks, buses and even airplanes, increasing flexibility and dramatically reducing the costly and labor-intensive processes used today.

"Overall, we estimate that the digital sector (including three-dimensional printing) offers us sales potential of more than EUR 200 million (US$275+ million) per year in the medium term," predicts Linzbach.

As part of the press event, attendees were invited into an R&D basement area that featured a full-color Fujifilm Jet Press 720 cutsheet inkjet press, which is being used for product testing. It was positioned across the aisle from a Heidelberg anicolor offset press (which can achieve makereadies in as little as 30 sheets and two minutes). Nearby was a digital Gallus press with a temporary box covering where the Fujifilm inkjet heads will ultimately be placed, and, finally, a soccer ball personalization demonstration incorporated the Jetmaster Dimension.

Despite its heightened commitment to the inkjet printing space, Heidelberg is not forsaking its existing relationships in dry toner-based digital printing. Building on its three-year partnership with Ricoh, more than 400 Heidelberg Linoprint C (C 901 and C 751) digital printing systems have reportedly been sold worldwide. The printer enables the hybrid integration of digital personalization with offset shells, as well as short-run and personalized digital press runs. Heidelberg's Prinect Digital Print Manager integrates the Linoprint C into Heidelberg's overall Prinect workflow. Oliver also noted that more Ricoh products are in the pipeline.

"The three-year partnership with Ricoh has been an all-out success," he says. "Customers who have bought solutions from our Linoprint C range are tapping into new value-added business opportunities such as hybrid applications that utilize both offset and digital technologies in combination."

Oliver also introduced some team members of its digital advisory council, referring to them as "sherpas," who are helping Heidelberg devise its digital printing strategy. They included Jim Kano, a former senior Fiery sales executive at EFI; Peter Mack, a consultant at HyGround Consulting and a former Heidelberg employee; Dr. Ken Stack, the founder of Jetrion and, more recently, M&A firm Proximus LLC; and Mike Willis, managing director of IMI Europe, which produces inkjet conferences. PI



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