Heidelberg USA

drupa 2012: Heidelberg Showcases Future Print Applications in the Innovation Gallery

At drupa 2012, Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG (Heidelberg) will be showcasing visionary print applications in its Innovation Gallery in Hall 1 and will thus highlight the areas where it is planning to play an active role in shaping the future of print. Visitors will be able to discover four different areas of application. In the areas of surface finishing and printed electronics, they will see market-ready products and demonstrations of what is already possible. As for the other two areas of application - printing on 3D objects and digital imaging - pioneering technologies for the future will be on display. "Our Innovation Gallery demonstrates that printed communication has long ceased to be confined to paper," explains Stephan Plenz, member of the Management Board responsible for Heidelberg Equipment. Heidelberg believes such applications offer great potential for manufacturers of branded goods, advertising agencies, and print media companies and is looking to enter into dialog with exactly these groups to move beyond the conventional image of print and provide a glimpse of the progress being made at its research laboratories. "We are making it clear that print has a real future and that we will play an active role in shaping this future. This applies to both conventional and functional printing and to the printing of decorative elements," he continues.

As well as discovering the Innovation Gallery, visitors to the show can also register for the daily presentations in the "Classroom", which is located in the Services Area of the stand. Speakers from Heidelberg and other companies will be talking about the "Outlook for 2020 - The Future of Print", covering topics such as inkjet, printed electronics, new business models, and the environment.

Fascinating surfaces create new finishing effects

One application that sets products apart from the competition in traditional sheetfed offset printing is already set for market launch. In the "Fascinating surfaces" section of the Innovation Gallery, the "Cristala" creative concept will demonstrate how existing drip-off coating equipment can be used to produce new finishing effects. Specially prepared prepress data creates structured surfaces with a strongly accented gloss effect that is quite unique in the sheetfed offset industry. Structured coatings create different gloss effects depending on the angle of inclination and the direction of viewing. Examples of surfaces with geometric lines, textures, ornaments, and contone images and typographical samples will also be on display at the trade show.

Intelligent surfaces from the press - interactive, illuminating, and smart

Many applications in the area of functional printing are still little more than visions for the future. Printed, intelligent surfaces called touchcodes that Heidelberg will be showcasing in the Innovation Gallery in the form of interactive printed ID cards with an integrated electronic structure are one example of an application that has already reached the market-ready stage. Placing a touchcode card of this kind on an iPad opens an app or web browser that offers access to specific content. The card therefore serves as a copy-protected license for electronic information in protected or closed applications, for example, thus building a bridge to mobile terminals. Unlike conventional QR codes, there is no need to take a photo using a smartphone. The touchcode acts as a paper key and is simply placed on the display. Heidelberg is presenting this touchcode technology in cooperation with Printechnologics GmbH from Chemnitz.

Another example of an intelligent surface is a film-based lighting element that takes the form of "printed light". The lighting effects of printed OLEDs (organic LEDs, light-emitting diodes) can be applied to folding cartons either as a surface area or as an informative detail in the form of numbers, text, or logos. Printed electronics in print products thus constitute the lighting elements of the future.

Yet another new application from Heidelberg is the "Smart Shelf", which delivers ideas for the packaging shelf of the future. In this case, both the folding carton and the surface of the shelf are equipped with printed electronic components to communicate the fill level of the shelf, for example. This technology can also be used with point-of-sale applications for interaction with the customer.

Printing on any surface - including 3D

The "Decorative printing on any surface" section of the Innovation Gallery will give interested visitors the opportunity to discuss possible applications for printing on any curved surface. Although the development from 2D high-productivity industrial printing to 3D is still in its infancy, work in this area has already begun. The focus here is on how everyday objects such as furniture, sports goods, and toys, and industrial products such as architecture and facades can be decorated with customized and reversible designs.

Surface drying and digital imaging

The "drying and structuring surfaces" section of the Innovation Gallery is devoted to new dryer technologies and systems, including energy-efficient UV LED dryer modules and a laser drying technology that heats only the ink and not the substrate, which is advantageous from a process engineering perspective. The major benefit is that it is possible to dramatically cut the waiting times between press and postpress.

The display also features a visionary laser module concept that enables the partial drying or structuring of surfaces. This digital multi-channel module opens up further potential future applications in the area of digital imagi