In a post on its blog, Infotrends states that Heidelberg will delay announcement of its digital printing plans until 2011. The report is based on a report in Germany following a meeting of the Eurographic Press editors. Having only this week had a meeting with the key executives at Heidelberg let me put the position correctly. When Bernhard Schreier made the announcement that Heidelberg would make an announcement about it's plans for digital printing he stated the term "this year." Knowing how Heidelberg works what he really said was "this calendar year" as Heidelberg always works on calendar years. That means an announcement by the end of March 2011, and I would expect an announcement in February.
The other aspect that Infotrends comments upon is they are surprised that Heidelberg plans to have a digital press with a performance of up to 90 pages/min rather than some of the higher performance offerings from companies like HP Indigo, Kodak, Oce or Xerox that would be more likely to appeal to its commercial printing customers. I disagree with Infotrends on this and feel that the majority of Heidelberg's customers that have not at this time moved into digital printing are the smaller printers that make up most of the company's user base and the specification of this first Heidelberg digital press is the correct decision.
I have seen the whole strategy for digital printing from Heidelberg and it is one where offset and digital printing work closely in harmony, and I think it is an excellent strategy. Heidelberg is not at this time stating who their digital partner is, and are leaving it to us to play a guessing game. I have however seen print output from the press and seen it compared with both offset and certain high-end digital presses, and I feel that Heidelberg's customers will be delighted with it.
I have an article all ready to publish as soon as Heidelberg is prepared to make an announcement. It is worth waiting for this article. In the meanwhile I will be publishing an article at WhatTheyThink on the current position of offset and digital printing, and you will find on this I don't agree with WhatTheyThink’s Frank Romano and do agree with the findings of the recent study by IT Strategies on this subject.