by Gail Nickel Kailing September 30, 2003 -- Rumors abounded this morning that Heidelberg was about to make an announcement of a new relationship. There was a sly smile on Marc Olin's face (Printcafe President/CEO) when we said hello over coffee. And I was about to find out why… What They Think readers will recall the CIP4, Creo, Printcafe, and MAN Roland CIM road shows announced at Graph Expo 2002 aimed at turning printers across North America into believers in the advantages of computerized manufacturing. At the same time, Komori announced a strategic alliance with Printcafe to incorporate Hagen OA into the K-Station. This year Heidelberg went one better. Niels M. Winther, president of Heidelberg USA, made introductions and led off the morning's presentation with a firm statement that Heidelberg believes the printing industry is in a rebound, although the recovery may be modest in the immediate future. Winther confirmed that the company is busier than it has been for a long time. But let's cut to the chase and talk about the announcement. That's what you really want to hear about, isn't it? Yes, the company made lots of product and service announcements - take a look at the press releases for details - but the big item of interest was the Heidelberg/EFI/Printcafe collaboration to provide a fully automated JDF-compliant workflow. Described as a real-world implementation of Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM), this collaboration provides prepress, press, post press and digital support. Hagen OA is the first product to be linked with Prinect and Heidelberg presses. As part of the collaboration, Heidelberg USA will refer mid to large size printers to Princafe's Hagen product where it fits their customers' needs in the North American market. Heidelberg will continue to offer Prinance as a fully integrated Prinect system for small to mid-size printers. The rest of the story… It's true; the watchword at the Expo this year is JDF. You can't walk past a booth without hearing the terms “JDF compliant” from all sides. While Heidelberg started out Sunday with its JDF collaboration announcement, the Networked Graphics Production (NGP) initiative finished the day with the introduction of 27 partners in another JDF initiative.