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Heidelberg USA President Reflects on drupa

June 8, 2012
Q&A with Harald Weimer, president of Heidelberg USA, reflecting on the printing equipment manufacturer’s takeaways from drupa 2012.

PI: Now that you can view drupa 2012 through the rear-view mirror, what are your impressions of the overall trends at the show, the current state of the printing industry, and where our industry is headed in the future?

Weimer: drupa was more than satisfying for Heidelberg, in terms of the overall traffic through our exhibits, the keen interest shown in our solutions, and the sales that followed. Significantly, more North American printers attended drupa 2012 than four years ago, and investment is picking up here, with printers intent on acquiring more efficient, productive equipment in every category that will enable them to differentiate their products and services.

Based on Heidelberg’s experience, it would seem that printers are feeling more confident about the future, and this motivates us to work even harder to supply them with the solutions they need to maintain a competitive advantage in the markets they serve.

PI: What do you feel were the most significant new product introductions and technology previews shown within Heidelberg's two halls at the show?

Weimer: In all, Heidelberg showed more than 60 innovations in commercial and packaging printing at drupa. Best-sellers were our new flagship Speedmaster XL 106 press; along with our Linoprint C 901 and C 751 digital printing systems, controlled by Heidelberg’s Prinect software and supported by a variety of inline finishing options; and our fast-makeready, low-waste Speedmaster XL 75 with Anicolor inking. Also attracting a lot of attention from quality-conscious packaging printers were the new inkjetting system on the Speedmaster XL 106 and the new Inspection Control module on our Diana folding carton gluer.

PI: Along the same line, since GRAPH EXPO in Chicago this fall will be the first time many U.S. printers will be exposed to drupa new product developments, can you provide a sneak peek of what Heidelberg will be showcasing within its booth?

Weimer: At GRAPH EXPO this fall, we will introduce our comprehensive drupa offerings to the U.S. market. We will also show our new digital offerings, including the Linoprint C machines driven by Heidelberg workflow, our grand-format Rastek printer—both of which have been added to our line since the last GRAPH EXPO—and our comprehensive Prinect workflow.

PI: Benny Landa’s new Nanographic Printing process captured a lot of the headlines during drupa. Heidelberg was one of three sheetfed lithographic press manufacturers, so far, to have announced licensing agreements to incorporate this digital offset technology. What is Heidelberg's time line for a new press design based on Nanography and how significant to do think it will be to your company’s digital printing product portfolio?

Weimer: Heidelberg’s offerings in short-run color now include our family of Linoprint C solutions for commercial applications, and our line of VUTEk and Rastek wide-format inkjet printers. Linoprint L is our digital inkjet solution for label printing. While we are not prepared to specify a timeline for the joint development and production of a Nanographic Printing solution at the present time, we are very excited to have undertaken this partnership and will have more to say on the topic soon. 

PI: With the launch of the Speedmaster XL 75 with Anicolor inking unit technology moving up to the 29˝ format size, what are the advantages of this press series for very-short-run printing in comparison with short-run digital printing presses that are available in the market?

Weimer: Our Speedmaster XL 75 Anicolor is unique. As the short-run color solution, it stands out by virtue of its extremely fast makeready, outstanding print quality, and dramatically lower waste. Keep in mind: referring to the last Digital Service Study from NAPL, three-quarters of pages printed on digital devices are static—this is the sweet spot for our Speedmaster XL 75 Anicolor.

An Anicolor press not only reaches the break-even point against digital at around 200 sheets, but it also achieves cost-effective, high-quality results over longer runs too, due to consistent inking and low ink cost. So you could legitimately say that Anicolor technology combines some digital advantages with the best of the offset world in terms of quality, makeready, and format size.

PI: As evidenced at drupa, advancements in digital printing are creating much of the buzz in the industry. Yet, as you know, the vast majority of printed pages still are being produced by the offset process. What would you say to a customer who is torn between installing a Heidelberg offset press that will provide many years of service vs. leasing digital printing equipment that can be upgraded as product improvements occur?

Weimer: The economics of the printing business today dictate that any planned investment should yield improved efficiency, reduced costs and maximum profit potential. We would always encourage printers to look past the prevailing hype and focus on their individual run lengths, job mix, and business needs to determine the best possible solution.

Quite often, we have found that when a clear, data-driven analysis is applied to a printer’s capital investment plans, the right choice turns out to be something entirely different from—and more cost-effective than—what the printer originally may have envisioned. 

PI: Like several of your competitors, Heidelberg emphasized package printing production at drupa, such as the introduction of your Speedmaster XL 106 press. What advice can you give commercial print shops that are trying to diversify into the package printing market?

Weimer: For commercial printers eying the packaging market, we would point out that Heidelberg is the only industry supplier to offer a variety of packaging solutions on more than one platform and in every format, from the Speedmaster XL 106, Speedmaster CX 102, XL VLF and Anicolor presses, to a range of diecutting and folding and gluing machines, including our end-to-end packaging production workflow. In short, Heidelberg offers everything a printer needs to optimize production and grow its business. We believe that any printer or converter that avails itself of Heidelberg’s single-source advantage will enjoy a significant competitive edge.

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