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Heidelberg Showcasing Visionary Print Applications in Its R&D Center

January 10, 2013

Intelligent surfaces from the press

Many applications in the area of functional printing are still little more than visions for the future. Printed, intelligent surfaces, called touch codes, that Heidelberg is showcasing in the form of interactive printed ID cards with an integrated electronic structure are one example of an application that has already reached the market-ready stage.

Placing a touch code card of this kind on an iPad opens an app or Web browser that offers access to specific content. The card, therefore, serves as a copy-protected license for electronic information in protected or closed applications, for example, thus building a bridge to mobile terminals.

Unlike conventional QR codes, there is no need to take a photo using a smartphone. The touch code acts as a paper key and is simply placed on the display. In cooperation with Chemnitz-based Printechnologics GmbH Heidelberg has developed touch code technology applications for particular market segments and shows, how these applications can be employed.

Another example of an intelligent surface is a film-based lighting element that takes the form of “printed light.” The lighting effects are based either on electroluminescence or on printed OLEDs (organic LEDs, light-emitting diodes). They can be applied to folding cartons either as a solid area or as an informative detail in the form of numbers, text, or logos.

Printed electronics in print products thus constitute the lighting elements of the future. Heidelberg is currently working on advanced concepts for decorative light on larger areas.

Heidelberg Smartpackaging samples
[+] click to enlarge
Another new application from Heidelberg is the “Smart Shelf,” which delivers concepts for the packaging shelf of the future. In this case, both the folding carton and the surface of the shelf are equipped with printed electronic components to communicate information such as the shelf’s fill level. This technology can also be used with point-of-sale applications for interaction with the customer.

The “decorative printing on any surface” section of the FEZ’s Innovation Gallery showcases possible applications for printing on any curved surface. Although the development from 2D high-productivity industrial printing to 3D is still in the early stages, initial applications are already possible. The focus here is on how everyday objects such as furniture, sports goods, toys, cars, industrial products, architectural elements, and entire facades can be decorated with customized and, if appropriate, reversible designs.

Surface drying and digital imaging

In the “drying and structuring surfaces” section of the FEZ’s Innovation Gallery new dryer technologies and systems are presented, including energy-efficient UV LED dryer modules and a laser drying technology that heats only the ink and not the substrate, a development that is advantageous from a process engineering perspective. The major benefit is that the waiting times between press and postpress can be cut drastically.

The display also features a laser module concept that enables the partial drying or structuring of surfaces. This digital multi-channel module opens up the possibility of further potential future applications in the area of digital imaging.

Source: Heidelberg.

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