The packaging market continues to evolve, and with it the need for reliable presses that can cope with any run length, any time. Heidelberg has answered this need by extending its Peak Performance XL series presses into the Very Large Format (VLF) category, and currently leads the market with the 57" Speedmaster XL 145 and 64" Speedmaster XL 162 (VLF Series), the fastest and most productive presses in the VLF format class.
A forthcoming white paper, co-authored by senior independent technical consultants Raymond J. Prince and William J. McLaughlan, reveals the results of rigorous print quality testing of Heidelberg's XL 162 VLF press.
"For the past five years we have seen a dramatic increase in requests for higher print quality for all types of packaging," Prince said. "Customers are now asking for Delta-Es of the run and asking for readings of dot gain, trap, etc. Given the growing emphasis on print quality, we are finding that the older equipment just cannot deliver and that the Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 162 can."
A Family Affair in Packaging
Heidelberg's XL "family" technology received an enthusiastic market reception in 2004 with the launch of the Speedmaster XL 105. The new press platform was designed for extensive presetting, and boasted running speeds to 18,000 sph. The innovative Prinect Press Center enabled all tasks—from job preparation and press setup to print sheet measurement and evaluation—to be accomplished faster, more accurately, and with greater reliability than ever before. Features included Intellistart, a setup program that streamlines and standardizes makeready procedures from operator to operator and shift to shift, as well as a high-definition LCD Wallscreen that gave users a complete overview of all press processes, including color results. All this, plus a 1" wider sheet size, gave the Speedmaster XL 105 a 25 percent to 30 percent productivity advantage in the 40/41" market.
In 2008, Heidelberg took its Peak Performance XL technology into the world of Very Large Format printing. In terms of increased format size alone, Heidelberg is leading a transformation in the 57"/56" market with its Speedmaster XL 145, which—as internal studies showed—yields better than 10 percent more blanks per sheet and increases capacity by the same percentage. Enhanced ergonomics reduce the time requirement for maintenance by approximately 50 percent. Combined with a true production speed of 15,000 sheets per hour, Heidelberg's VLF series of XL presses are designed for ultimate ease of use, profitable uptime and maximum availability. More than 80 percent of the electronic parts in Heidelberg's VLF Series presses are identical to those of the Speedmaster XL 105, making this a true XL family member.
Eliminate, Automate, Synchronize
As run lengths get shorter, Heidelberg's VLF series presses offer systematic savings by eliminating makeready steps, automating manual processes, and by synchronizing key functions. The resulting gains in productivity are key to being successful in the folding carton market. Examples include a single-suction belt feeder, which ensures reliable sheet feeding by an inline sheet and stream control; simultaneous wash-up of the blanket and impression cylinders; and AutoPlate XL, for fully automatic plate changes in all units in less than 2.5 minutes.
"The results for all test forms were remarkable," Prince wrote. "The resulting data, when compared with tests conducted over the years on other presses of the same format under similar conditions, were nothing short of amazing. The Speedmaster XL 162 not only was able to meet the acceptance criteria, but also, in most cases, to establish levels of performance never before seen in a large format press."