Digital Digest: Heidelberg Digital Sneak Peek Reveals New Strategy
Oliver added that Fujifilm was a natural partner given its industry leadership in drop-on-demand inkjet print head technology, inks and printing quality, combined with Heidelberg's expertise in substrate handling, process controls and precision manufacturing.
In the shorter term, Heidelberg is collaborating with Fujifilm and Gallus (in which it owns a 30 percent stake) to present a new Gallus digital label printing press this fall that incorporates Fujifilm inkjet printing technology. This integrated solution is designed to meet the growing demand for a cost-effective means of producing short runs and customized labels. It reportedly will feature offset quality, the speed of flexo, the cost and durability advantages of UV inkjet, and in-line converting capabilities.
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.