Heidelberg ramps up B1 inkjet production

By Jo Francis, Thursday 09 November 2017

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Heidelberg is upping production of its Primefire 106 B1 sheetfed inkjet press in the face of an “overwhelming” market reaction to the device.

heidelberg-hundsdorfer-and-plenz

Hundsdörfer (left) and Plenz at the packaging event

At a special event for packaging printers at its Wiesloch facility this week, chief executive Rainer Hundsdörfer opened proceedings by stating the importance of the market to Heidelberg, and laid claim to market leadership thanks to the group's portfolio of printing and finishing products: “No other supplier sells more into the packaging segment. Our strategy is to stay ahead, and we are showing solutions to give businesses new impulses.”

Over the summer the manufacturer had said that all of the 2018 production slots for the press were booked up, but Heidelberg board member for digital technology Stephan Plenz has now announced that Primefire production will be increased by 50%. The 2,500sph press is a joint development with Fujifilm, and uses Fujifilm Dimatix Samba printheads.

“The reaction has been overwhelming, so we have to ramp it up by 50% right now in order to fulfill demand and keep the quality level where it is,” he said.

Plenz also emphasised the firm’s focus on high quality output and an industrial level of press robustness and uptime.

“In all our discussions with our customers, quality comes first. We cannot have white lines,” he stated. “We are controlling the printhead, the ink supply and the compensation and at the end the pile is only good sheets.”

The event included a world premiere for attendees from nearly 300 companies, including several UK packaging printers, who visited the first Primefire 106 beta installation at Multi Packaging Solutions in Obersulm.

The site specialises in high quality cartons for clients including health and beauty brands and runs an array of highly-specified Heidelberg offset presses. It is using the Primefire for a variety of purposes, including short runs, personalised or versioned packs for special promotions, and product development.

“If we do development work on our big production machines it costs a lot. There are 200 fragrances a year launched just in Germany, so you can imagine how much development work we do,” explained Steffen Schnizer, managing director and senior vice president sales global beauty and personal care at MPS.

“The Primefire allows us to produce smaller volumes more efficiently to be more agile and flexible, and reduce our development costs.”

The second Primefire beta installation, at Colordruck Baiersbronn, will take place at the beginning of next month, with a further beta installation to follow in March 2018.

Plenz said that 90% of the current pipeline had been sold to packaging printers, and within that 20% were pharma specialists.

Other sales have been to printers in other niches, such as calendars, and he also reported interest from the web-to-print sector.

“The first beta site will run until the end of February, the second until the end of April, followed by the pharma beta test so we will have a continuous flow of testing in different sectors.”

Heidelberg also highlighted the potential of its Push to Stop printing technology for the packaging sector at the event. Plenz said the firm now had more than 300 Push to Stop installations worldwide.

The manufacturer has just announced interim results that have seen the group post its first half-year profit since its 2007/2008 financial year.

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