The seven-colour 2,500sph press, a joint development with Fujifilm, was unveiled at Drupa. At the time Heidelberg said the first customer would be a major packaging printer, and had hoped to install a press by the end of last year.
Operators from MPS have been running the Primefire at the press manufacturer's R&D facility in Heidelberg since January, ahead of its installation at the MPS factory in Obersulm, Germany. This will take place in the next couple of months once the MPS building is ready.
It means that Heidelberg is likely to be the first manufacturer with a B1 sheetfed inkjet press installed at a customer site.
Steffen Schnizer, managing director and global head of beauty and personal care sales at MPS Obersulm, described the Primefire as “a significant step forward in terms of digital print technology” and said it would greatly enhance the firm’s carton offering.
“More of our customers want the flexibility of digitally printed cartons but naturally don’t want to compromise their brand with an inferior product. The quality of print, strength of colour and flexibility will allow customers the benefit of managing their carton requirements more effectively,” he said.
Schnizer added that services such as variable or personalised packaging would allow the firm’s customers to tap into new business potential and provide competitive advantage.
Montserrat Peidro-Insa, Heidelberg’s head of digital sales and digital sheetfed general manager, said that global packaging group MPS, which employs more than 9,000 staff in 14 countries, was the “ideal customer” to put the press through its paces under real-life industrial manufacturing conditions.
“It brings us a big step closer in qualifying the Primefire 106 for true production and starting to establish industrial digital printing in the market,” she stated.
Heidelberg hosted more than 40 packaging and commercial printers at an information day last week to showcase the capabilities of the circa €2.8m (£2.4m) Primefire 106, including a “deep dive” into the Fujifilm inkjet technology. The press uses Fujifilm Dimatix Samba printheads, and Heidelberg said its water-based ink was suitable for food-safe production and also met “strict environmental and recycling requirements”.
Heidelberg UK sales director Jim Todd said there was interest in the press from the firm's UK customer base. "The feedback from this pilot project will allow us to develop those customer conversations and ensure we cover all the aspects that need to be taken into account when comparing inkjet with conventional sheetfed production."
Pictured, from left: Thomas Heissler, Heidelberg global acccount manager; MPS Obersulm managing director Götz Schümann; Heidelberg's Montserrat Peidro-Insa.