Heidelberg’s new Jetfire range for industrial digital commercial printing utilizes Canon’s inkjet technology and aims to combine offset and digital printing into a single end-to-end system, with the Prinect Touch Free software also offering automated print production.

“Our aim is to offer our customers who want to operate offset and digital presses simultaneously an attractive and integrated service and product portfolio,” says Dr. David Schmedding, head of Sales at Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG and upcoming chief sales and service officer.

At drupa 2024 in Düsseldorf, Heidelberg is upfronting Jetfire 50, an existing B3 digital printing system from Canon. Designed for industrial print service providers looking for alternative production methods, it is thought to bring together the flexibility of digital printing and the stability of inkjet printing for commercial purposes.

The company claims that Jetfire 50 can print 9,120 SRA3 sheets every hour – the equivalent of around 18,000 A4 pages hourly, and up to 2.5 million SRA3 duplex sheets monthly. It utilizes a water-based inkjet with 1200 dpi x 1200 dpi and is thought to provide grammages of 60 – 350 g/m2.

The solution comes with corresponding integration into the Prinect workflow and is set to be available to customers from Q1 2025.

Furthermore, Heidelberg anticipates the release of Jetfire 75, an inkjet digital printing press in B2 format for commercial printing from mid-2025; the first shipments are projected for early 2026. The machine apparently utilizes state-of-the-art inkjet technology to ‘take industrial digital printing to a new level’.

Anticipated to print 8,700 B2 sheets every hour, it is said to be over twice as fast as previous machines on the market. As such, Heidelberg states that Jetfire 75 offers a print capacity of up to 54 million B2 sheets every year and 8,700 B2 sheets per hour – the equivalent of approximately 35,000 A4 pages hourly.

Like the Jetfire 50, Jetfire 75 utilizes a water-based inkjet with 1200 dpi x 1200 dpi and can be integrated into the Heidelberg Prinect Workflow. It is compatible with grammages between 60 and 450 g/m2 and, with a paper format of 61 x 75 cm, can be used for a range of commercial jobs and special formats.

The new digital printing systems are anticipated for fully automatic operation in an integrated system alongside offset presses, making use of Prinect Touch Free via Heidelberg’s Prinect workflow.

Prinect Touch Free software is an automated, hybrid workflow. Integrated into the portfolio of offset and digital machines, it utilizes artificial intelligence to make quick and automatic decisions – finding the fastest, most efficient means of achieving the finished product as part of the Heidelberg Prinect Production Manager.

By making use of Prinect Touch Free, print shops can apparently produce a high number of jobs in short runs without manual intervention. Its continuous optimization of the order backlog is designed to streamline production costs and time; and all technically possible production paths are stored in the system, meaning rescheduling can take place immediately, even between offset and digital operations.

Schmedding added: “Heidelberg is the partner for printing companies that can supply and integrate all modern technologies in a technology-neutral and demand-oriented manner. We offer the entire spectrum from toner to inkjet, from offset printing to flexo printing - controlled from a common Prinect workflow.”

Reportedly, Heidelberg’s Gallus Labelfire and Gallus One for label printing are proof of successful inkjet solutions in an industrial environment; it is thought to have established over 3,000 Versafire toner-based digital printing installations and more than 1,500 integration projects with digital printing machines from other manufacturers in the market.

Current market estimates are said to predict growth of around €3 billion for Heidelberg on the addressable digital printing market, including service and consumables, between now and 2028. It is expected to ‘significantly increase’ its turnover with digital printing solutions in the medium term.

Last year, Canon announced that it would display its Canon LabelStream LS2000 water-based inkjet label press for industrial-scale label printing at drupa 2024 in Düsseldorf. The machine is designed to meet food safety standards and claims to be the ‘ideal solution’ for label converters seeking a digital press to meet demand for shorter runs of diverse, self-adhesive labels against tight deadlines.

At the same event, Heidelberg is showcasing a series of sheetfed offset, flexographic, and digital solutions for packaging and commercial printing. These include the Speedmaster XL 106 Peak Performance printing press, which utilizes artificial intelligence for continuous process optimization.

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