Axel Springer is set to become one of the world's biggest users of hybrid inkjet printing systems by next summer.
The German publishing and printing group is planning a multi-million euro investment to install Kodak Prosper inkjet heads across all its German printing sites, including at its contract printing partners.
This week Axel Springer announced that it had already expanded its current hybrid setup following a successful pilot period. It has invested in an additional Prosper S30 head at its Ahrensburg facility and two further heads for its Berlin print site, meaning it now has four printheads in operation. It is now poised to increase this six-fold.
It is using the Prosper S30 to produce a strip of monochrome variable data at full press speed for special competitions and promotions in flagship newspaper title Bild, which will roll-out a new competition next week.
"We will run a major test with three regional editions on 10 December, involving a circulation of 450,000 every night," explained Tobias Kuhn, general manager for Bild Ost.
Kuhn said plans to add hybrid printing capability to all its plants by next May were in place, which would involve a total of 30 Prosper printheads. The ultimate deadline is the start of the new Bundesliga season in August 2013: "We are trying to be ready in May with the whole thing. It requires a strict roll-out from the end of January," he stated.
Kodak has achieved considerable success with the use of its Prosper printheads in a variety of hybrid applications, with some 500 heads installed worldwide. "We have them on every continent except Antarctica," said Marie-Luce Delaune, Kodak marketing program manager for inkjet solutions in EAMER. "The installed base has doubled on a yearly basis since 2008."
The existing heads at Axel Springer have been integrated on Manroland Web Systems Colorman presses, with Manroland and Kodak partnering on the integration aspects.
However, other sites involved in the project use KBA presses but Manroland vice president for service and printcom, Anton Hamm, said Manroland would still be handling the integration: "We expect we will do the engineering and have already checked it out. We know we will be facing more than just Manroland presses on this and other projects," he said.
"Yes we can meet the Bild deadline. One of our advantages is it’s a modular system even though it might not be in exactly the same place on each press. We just need the speed signal from the press," Hamm added.
UK newspaper publishers and printers are yet to achieve a significant level of market penetration with hybrid inkjet. CN Newsprint installed the world’s first Prosper S10 system in spring 2010, and News International is known to have trialled the technology.