At drupa 2016, Heidelberg showcased the highly anticipated world premiere of the first B1 industrial inkjet digital printing press. The machine drew quite the crowd during the 11-day trade show and is setting new standards in terms of print jobs and applications. The Primefire 106 is part of Heidelberg’s robust digital portfolio branded under the family name “fire.” Here is what Dan Maurer, Vice President of Digital Product Management for Heidelberg USA, had to say about the groundbreaking press:
The Primefire 106 is the world’s first B1 industrial inkjet digital printing press. How do you feel this development will further transform the digital market?
DM: Heidelberg’s expansion into the B1 (29” x 40”) format provides packaging and commercial printers production efficiencies that are not possible in smaller formats. You see this first in prepress where the positioning and file formatting for static short run jobs can wait until the customer makes a real time decision to run the job with digital or offset.
Secondly, it allows the possibility of taking offset printed shells straight off of the press without having to be cut down and run through the digital press to add variable content. By having a common size format, it also provides for efficiencies in paper purchasing and logistics. Lastly, it gives both packaging and commercial printers the opportunity to further utilize their finishing processes (such as diecutting and folding) currently used for offset work, as long as the equipment is of the latest generation that employs automated makereadies for short runs.
The Primefire 106 is said to open new opportunities, specifically for packaging printers. Can you explain how this machine will allow customers to develop new areas of business?
DM: Every print manufacturing environment requires a custom combination of print technologies to produce applications with the highest quality at the lowest cost. By offering both digital (inkjet and toner), offset, and flexo (through our Gallus partnership) solutions, Heidelberg can aid in maximizing the packaging printers’ cost effectiveness on producing these applications, and integrate those environments with a seamless workflow.
The latest offset technology, such as the Speedmaster XL 106 and XL 75 Anicolor, have already achieved incredible efficiencies. The Primefire 106 can further improve efficiencies on short run jobs, but also provides packaging printers with a business innovation opportunity to position themselves as a collaborative partner (with the print buyers’ brand manager). The Primefire 106 provides variable data applications including serialization and barcoding (ex: micro barcoding) for tracking information. With the ability to print down to 0.5pt fonts, it can also be used for security printing and anti-counterfeiting applications.
Additionally, other unique packaging applications are now possible by producing cartons digitally. Imagine a campaign where the cartons have crossovers. When arranged as a store display and stacked in a sequence, they form a larger image, grabbing more attention from the consumer.
This machine combines Heidelberg’s proven peak performance Speedmaster technology with the leading inkjet technology from Fujifilm. How will these integrated technologies work together to produce a wide range of digital printing applications?
DM: The Speedmaster XL 106 platform is the basis on which the Primefire 106 is built. This provides a B1 (40”) foundation with a hardened production design for uptime, robustness, and high speed substrate handling. This also includes the XL’s modularity, which allows customers to customize the solution to meet their unique printing requirements. Though the machine will start at 2000 sheets per hour on a stock range of 8 pt. to 24 pt., the Primefire 106 can be upgraded for speed increases and stock range expansion without having to replace the machine, ultimately maximizing the longevity of the investment.
From feeder to delivery, the Primefire has optimized makeready features so settings can be saved for the job or substrate profile. The integration of Fujifilm’s inkjet head technology not only allows for the delivery of 12 billion drops per sheet, but also provides for even greater uptime and quality. The stability provided by the 4 ton imaging drum (which houses the grippers) and the Diamatrix Samba heads optimize registration. Historically, color-to-color and image-to-sheet registration tolerance has been a challenge for digital press technologies, making the Primefire 106 unique.
The successful incorporation of technologies is accomplished through Heidelberg’s Prinect Digital Front End (DFE) workflow. The Prinect DFE makes the Primefire 106 a completely connected system with benefits from all of Prinect’s Prepress and Press Manager software used on traditional offset. In a mixed production environment, press operators will be comfortable working on both systems, and jobs can easily move back and forth between XL presses and the Primefire.
We are at the dawn of a new era in digital printing technology. The decades of work in inkjet technology has arrived in producing a truly viable B1 sized digital press. This is an exciting time in the graphic communications industry, and we will continue to see improvements in speed, applications and cost efficiency on these platforms for years to come.
Heidelberg Americas has already seen much success since the Primefire debut at drupa with Warneke Paper Box being the first to sign for the 70 x 100 format machine. For more information about the Primefire 106, please contact your Heidelberg representative.