In a pre-drupa briefing for the printing trade media several weeks ago, executives of Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG discussed many aspects of the new face that the company will show the world at the international trade fair and afterwards. No one had more drupa product news to share than Bent Mortenson, senior vice president for sheetfed product and portfolio management. Two new pressesan eight-color Speedmaster 52 perfector and the drupa 2004 generation of the Speedmaster SM/CD 102 for packaging and other industrial print applicationstopped his long list of solutions from the product segment on which Heidelberg has placed so much emphasis as it realigns around traditional strengths in conventional equipment.
Mortenson had less to say about prepress, where his only announcement was the addition of new cassette loading system for the Prosetter and Topsetter plate exposure units. Modest, too, was news of advancements in DI presses, which Heidelberg had always been adamant about including in any discussion of digital printing when it was still a full contender in the field.
Mortenson noted that the Quickmaster DI 46-4 Pro has been improved with a new laser imaging technology from Presstek, but said in response to a journalist's question that there were no further developments to report for the larger but much less widely installed Speedmaster 74 DI. Dr. Spiegel added that the company saw no business justification for developing a 40" DI press.
Estimating to post calculations
Mortenson also gave an update on Prinect, Heidelberg's collection of modular components for print workflow management including production planning and integration with business workflows. With Prinect, he said, it is possible to control print manufacturing all the way from estimating to post calculations based on production data. Mortenson reported that Heidelberg has divided Prinect solutions into three broad areasmanagement, production, and colorand will showcase the solutions in the Prinect Center in Hall 2 at drupa.
His remarks set the stage for a live demonstration in which the journalists saw Prinect control the inking setup and color adjustment for test sheets being run on a new SM/CD 102 press. Built into the Prinect console was a spectrophotometric image control module that scanned the sheets and displayed all reproduction datatonal, dot gain, and L*a*b color values, among othersas graphed deviations from proof data on a large monitor. Corrections could be made instantly as automatic adjustments to the color units of the press. Another demonstration showed Prinect's applicability to the entire process from order entry to finishing.
Prinect continued to keynote the briefing in its second day, which also featured a presentation by executives of NexPress. A detailed Prinect overview, led by Jörg Bauer at Heidelberg's Print Media Academy, spelt out numerous improvements to the solution's utilities for both conventional and digital print workflows. Bauer emphasized that Prinect can integrate with existing MIS setups and production workflows to minimize the number of system interfaces that users have to deal with. With Prinect, he said, integration is not a dreamit is available today.
Venkat Purushotham, associated with NexPress Solutions LLC since its launch as a joint venture by Heidelberg and Eastman Kodak in 1997, now is its CEO and will continue to lead the company when it becomes a wholly owned subsidiary within Kodak's Commercial Print Groupa business unit that also includes Encad (wide-format inkjet), Kodak Polychrome Graphics (consumables and equipment), and Versamark (high-speed digital printing).
Everybody's doing IT
Speaking of a transformation of print media driven by renewed investment in IT infrastructure, he noted that printers must find ways to make their services tie into their customers' business systems. HP, Xerox, and other print technology providers sense the same opportunity to help printers gain market by linking to IT, said Purushotham, adding that NexPress will rely on its culture of speed to develop solutions as rapidly as printers require them.
As for drupa, Purushotham said that product announcements made during the briefing should be taken as teasers for further unveilings at the show. Like Heidelberg, NexPress will give as much play to workflow software as to output hardware, emphasizing its solutions for Web-to-print job management, variable-data printing, customer interface, and production control. It will package these solutions with the NexPress 2100 digital color press in three bundles configured to suit printers' varying business needs.
In a coda to the briefing, the American journalists took part in a conference call with Niels M. Winther, president of Heidelberg USA, before departing for home. High on their list of questions was why Heidelberg continues to distance itself from Networked Graphic Production (NGP), a manufacturers' coalition promoting system interoperability via JDF.
In 2001, Creo (then CreoScitex) launched NGP as a solution it described as a completely integrated production environment that extends all the way from the creative desktop to the delivery of the finished product. Today NGP is the common cause of 36 companies that advocate using JDF to make production systems from different manufacturers communicate with each other. These companies, which include many of Heidelberg's principal competitors, will promote the initiative in an NGP Partner Pavilion at drupa.
Dim view of JDF subsets
Winther's answer was a restatement of the position he took in remarks prepared for the Vue/POINT conference, which took place in the same week as the media briefing in Germany. That speech depicted NGP as a redundant and unnecessary push to create subsets of the JDF standard (that) would add uncertainties, inefficiencies and costs for all of us.
Further, according to the Vue/POINT remarks, some manufacturers are using this as a vehicle for bundling services and forcing them into the market.
In the call with the journalists, Winther was even blunter, branding NGP as a Creo-run initiative devised primarily as a stalking-horse for workflow bundling by that company.
Asked what should be done to forestall problems that could arise from separate workflow programs by Heidelberg and NGP, Winther said, Give NGP to CIP4 and let them run it. CIP4, a consortium that includes Heidelberg, Creo, and more than 200 other manufacturers, leads the development of open JDF standards for graphic workflows. Heidelberg says that because Prinect is fully compliant with JDF, it meets all of CIP4's requirements for a flexible, transparent, and comprehensive workflow solution.
Responding to questions about the general outlook for Heidelberg, Winther said it was still correct to think of Heidelberg as a full-spectrum supplier of graphic systems even though it will no longer manufacture everything it offers for sale. This was especially true of web offset, he said, adding that Heidelberg was not running away from that market in seeking the sale of the division to Goss. Heidelberg also will keep a postpress component, said Winther, because it fits very well and rounds out our sheetfed offerings.
Winther predicted that if Heidelberg and the rest of the industry could just wait out sluggish business conditions in the first half of the year, everyone would see a pickup come summer.
The downward spiral certainly has been broken, he said.
What to do in Halls 1 and 2
Show announcements at the briefing were extensive. The News & Events link at the Heidelberg home page (www.heidelberg.com) connects to detailed information about the company's plans for drupa. Here are some highlights from various solution categories that Heidelberg will present at the show:
The new Prinect Prinance 4.4.2 deals with print shop management tasks from preliminary costing and order processing to billing and post-costing.
Heidelberg has expanded the PDF-based Prinect Preprint Workflow with new features in Prinect Printready System 2.0, the Prinect Meta Dimension 5.0 output system, and the new Prinect Signa Station 1.0 imposition software. The new Prinect Calibration Toolbox and Prinect Profile Toolbox products enable accurate color management setting from the original to the press.
In press workflow, Heidelberg will exhibit the new version of its high-end color measuring system Prinect Image Control 3.0 with an extended range of functions and improved workflow integration; new functions of the Prinect CP 2000 for Speedmaster presses; and the Prinect Online Kit for the Printmaster PM 52 and PM 74.
Printmaster PM 52 and Printmaster PM 74: Deliveries of compact series-produced Printmaster PM 52 one- to five-color presses will begin in May. Heidelberg has designed a new feeder for the Printmaster PM 74 featuring a central suction tape and pneumatic pull lay for short makereadies and improved productivity.
Speedmaster SM 52-8-P-H: The Speedmaster SM 52 is to be presented as an eight-color press with an extended range of functions and a revised sheet transfer system. This A3 press can produce 4/4 jobs and jobs with up to eight colors cost-effectively in a single pass.
Speedmaster SM/CD 102: Being introduced at drupa, the new generations of both the SM and CD series feature a number of innovations in coating from entry-level solutions to solutions for processing special coatings.
Sunday 3000/32: The machine is the first web offset press with a single circumferential format combined with the advantages of an 8-page cylinder configuration. These features let the Sunday 3000/32 print 32 magazine pages with each revolution, equivalent to a speed of 100,000 impressions per hour.
M-600 D: The fully revamped M-600 featuring a Multidrive system, new JDF-compatible control functions, and a new JF-70 combination folder can print up to 70,000 sheets an hour. It also has an Ecocool dryer with chill rollers, automatic plate changing with the Autoplate option, and a new Omni Makeready control module for faster job changes with lower paper waste.
NexPress 2100: The digital color press will be bundled with three solutions, or sets of capabilities, for different types of printing operations. The press features a more powerful front end and an optional fifth imaging unit for clear coating (IntelliCoat) or an expanded color gamut (IntelliColor), using dry inks.
Digimaster: The black-and-white document production system will be made more efficient with Print Production Release 6.0 software, offering improved paper handling; direct support of Adobe Acrobat PDF 1.5 format; and expanded job tracking capabilities through the system's front end. A field upgrade for Digimaster 9150i print system enables upgrading for Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR) printing. New finishing options also will be presented.
Pacesetter 1100: The new high-performance saddlestitcher for finishing long-run magazines and books stitches up to 20,000 copies per hour from up to 40 feed stations and can be used with both commercial web presses and sheetfed offset presses.
Stahlfolder TH/KH generation of folders: All offer shorter makeready times and increased efficiency thanks to numerous automation components. The TH buckle plate folder is available in widths of 22.05", 25.98" and 32.28". The KH combination folders feature a cross-fold module and come in widths of 56", 66" and 78".
Eurobind series and Eurotrim: The new Eurobind perfect binder series is for adhesive finishing of print products in short and medium runs. The Eurobind models 200/300 and 500 are geared to commercial print. The high-end models 1200 and 2000 are geared to industrial print and can be fitted with the automatic Eurotrim three-side cutter.
Dymatrix 106 CSB: This CSB (cutting, stripping, and blanking) die cutter processes sheets up to 29.92" x 41.73" as it cuts, embosses, and creases paper, board, and corrugated board at speeds up to 9,000 sheets per hour.
In its own booth as well as in Heidelberg's, POLAR will show a new generation of high-speed cutters with many enhanced control and safety features. Networking cutters to prepress and production via the P-Net Ethernet interface will be demonstrated. Also to be seen are die cutters for labels and peripheral equipment for jogging and pile turning.
For more information, please visit www.heidelberg.com
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