Heidelberg Showcasing Visionary Print Applications in Its R&D Center

The exhibition also includes examples of surfaces with geometric lines, textures, ornaments, and contone images and typographical samples.

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.


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.

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