More than 70 customers from 40 packaging manufacturers from all over Europe took advantage of an opportunity at the beginning of November for an in-depth visit to the packaging printing company MPS-WestRock in Obersulm. Part of the global WestRock packaging group based in Atlanta (USA), it is the first commercial user of Heidelberg’s new digital flagship, the Primefire 106 for the 70x100 cm format. MPS-WestRock produces high-end packaging for consumer goods products in the luxury segment, and the technical requirements for the machines used for this are correspondingly high. These prerequisites offer Heidelberg the perfect platform to be able to extensively test and enhance the new machine in real-life operation.
“Our customers are extremely demanding,” emphasized Managing Director Steffen Schnizer at the open house event. It is therefore important for us to use the most suitable machines for the specifications of the job. “For a long time, digital printing presses were not able to meet our customers’ high standards for quality and color fidelity”, he said. “The Heidelberg Primefire 106 meets these requirements.” The extremely high density of 1200 dpi or more than 10 billion dots per printed sheet provides a level of sharpness and brilliance previously unknown in digital printing. Manufacturers of packaging for high-ends products in particular appreciate this.
Extremely positive response
The close cooperation with –MPS-WestRock offered the best opportunity to present Heidelberg’s latest digital printing solution as a complete installation to major packaging printers from all over Europe and to discuss integration and application possibilities. The customers exhibited an exceptionally high level of interest in the Primefire 106, with far more visitors than originally expected wanting to see the performance of the Primefire 106 for themselves. Steffen Schnizer was impressed by the keen interest shown by the attendees and spoke about a “great setting” in view of the large number of visitors.
Apart from the sharpness and brilliance, the visitors were above all impressed by the extremely short setup time during job changes and the fact that there was almost no start-up waste. This makes it economically viable to produce shorter run lengths right down to a minimum run length of one, and opens the door for personalization and customization for the first time on a B1 sheet. “Personalized products are very much on trend and there is strong consumer demand for them,” stressed Schnizer. Examples include customized names or messages on cosmetic packaging.
Packaging printing is the strongest growing segment in the print media industry. Annual worldwide growth rates of three percent are expected in the coming five years, increasing to up to 20 percent for digital packaging printing, and Heidelberg is the industry leader in the area of packaging. The company not only offers its customers the widest range of products, but is also the clear market and technological leader in this area. There is strong global interest from print shops in the new Primefire 106, with correspondingly high demand. The second machine will be going to another customer in Southern Germany this year, while the third will be going to a customer abroad at the beginning of next year. Production at the Wiesloch-Walldorf site is already at capacity until mid-2019. Heidelberg is currently considering whether to expand capacity in order to meet the strong demand.