Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG (Heidelberg) is on the final stretch with the international market launch of its digital printing portfolio and is due to complete this by drupa 2012. The portfolio comprises the Ricoh Pro C901 Graphic Arts Edition digital printing system and the new Pro C751 series, which is available in the Pro C751, Pro C751 EX, and Pro C651 EX versions.
It is just weeks since UK company Healeys Print Group became the first printer in Europe to take delivery of a Ricoh Pro C651 EX. It was supplied by Heidelberg. This investment underlines managing director Philip Dodd's optimism about how his litho and digital line up will complement each other and how the adoption of Web-to-Print will cement new opportunities in the market.
Healeys is not a newcomer to digital printing. The company has previously used Indigo and Xerox machines, but when it saw the Ricoh Pro C 651EX, Philip Dodd was struck by the incredible quality. After he had found out that he could source the machine via his trusted partner Heidelberg with its proven service track record the decision was made.
Six years ago Healeys was the first company in the world to invest in a Speedmaster SM 52-8-P long perfector, having been selected as one of the first beta sites outside Germany to test this machine. He was also an early adopter of the SM 52-4+L Anicolor. Both presses still run alongside the new Ricoh Pro C651 EX digital press and a Speedmaster CD 74-5, a Speedmaster SM 52-2 and a Printmaster PM 52-2.
The 40 strong Ipswich-based company produces a broad range of commercial and fine art printing to top quality standards. The company led by Philip Dodd takes a consultative approach to selling, realizing that to grow it must fulfil customer needs not just supply a commodity. The company offers a design to delivery service including wide format, litho and digital printing. It holds ISO 9001 quality and ISO 14001 environmental standards and is FSC Chain of Custody certified. The company has a turnover of £3.6m.
"The Ricoh Pro C651 EX was the right cost-performance press for us. We need quality for all our customers but with 15 percent of our turnover from art galleries it is a particular issue for our business. The Pro C651 EX means we have a scanner, so we can reproduce documents, too. To date, we have used digital largely for short runs and for the tightest timescales. With our Anicolor press, which we have had for nearly four years now, we believe a realistic cut off between digital and litho is a run of 300," says Philip Dodd.
"We can see great potential for combining litho and digital, and for one customer in particular we are looking at a litho UV coated cover with a personalized digital proposal bound in. Most customers would not be able to differentiate the look and feel of litho and digital, but we will send samples when necessary.
"The rise of digital does not mean the end of litho. When you look at a press like the Speedmaster XL 75 with Autoplate XL giving plate changing in one and a half minutes and Inpress Control bringing makeready times down to five minutes, you know it will still win when we need to produce runs of a few hundred. We will look at this machine again at drupa in May."
Healeys is now reviewing Web-to-Print options. It had considered this before, but at that stage the cost of implementation was a deterrent. Now Philip Dodd has looked at three options and will shortly move ahead with a buying decision.
"Web to print is relevant to both digital and litho technology because it is all about eliminating administration and cutting cost from our business," he says. "It also opens up new opportunities. We have one customer, a £38m turnover company with eight branches, who want us to set up standard PDF templates, which can be completed at local level and then distributed by us direct to customers without any intervening print. This is not a threat to our print work. We will still handle all their print collateral but increasingly printers must add value to the services they offer and Web-to-print opens up new ways of communicating with end users."
Customer interest in integrated offset and digital print solutions very high
The digital printing partnership between Heidelberg and Ricoh has been running successfully since April 2011. Combining the two technologies enables customers to offer variable data printing and very short runs in addition to tried-and-tested, cost-efficient, and high-quality offset printing. This ensures customer requirements can be met more flexibly, simply, productively, and profitably. "In Ricoh, we've found the perfect partner to supply our customers with solutions that deliver added value and boost long-term profitability. As a result, we've already concluded a large volume of sales and met our targets completely in all countries where we offer the Ricoh systems," says Stephan Plenz, Member of the Management Board responsible for Heidelberg Equipment.
At presentations at trade shows and Open House events, customers have been impressed by the opportunities offered by combining digital and offset printing. In particular, Prinect Digital Print Manager enables seamless integration of the two technologies.
In Europe, Ricoh systems are offered by Germany, the UK, France, and Poland. They will be followed in spring 2012 by Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, and Russia. The partnership agreement has already been launched successfully in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Brazil. In Asia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Hong Kong are already on board and were recently joined by India. All other countries are to follow suit by drupa 2012.
As well as the Ricoh Pro C901 Graphic Arts Edition digital printing system, which reaches a production speed of 90 A4 pages a minute, Heidelberg also offers the new Pro C751 series. This is geared specifically to the needs of print service providers and digital and commercial print shops that handle low print volumes and variable data. A high resolution of 4,800 dpi ensures maximum quality with a production speed of up to 75 A4 pages a minute. This series features three models - the Pro C751 printer version and the Pro C751 EX and Pro C651 EX copier and scanner versions. All models process a wide range of grammages up to 300 grams, demonstrate excellent stability with an average monthly volume of 180,000 sheets, and are ideal for continuous operation.
Under the banner HEI Flexibility, the Heidelberg booth at drupa will be showcasing the opportunities created by solutions ranging from the Web-to-Print frontend and digital and offset print technologies to professional postpress applications.