16 September 2018 Digital Printing Technologies

Heidelberg UK is off to quick start with new digital presses

Last week's open house focused on the appeal of digital presses that carry the Heidelberg badge.

Heidelberg completed the sale of one of its new generation performance digital presses at its open house last week, where it gave a formal introduction to new high performance and value added electrophotographic cutsheet presses.

The Versafire EP, while announced some weeks ago, is only now available hard on the heels of the Versafire EV model. These are Heidelberg's implementation of the same core technology as Ricoh’s Pro C9200 and Pro C7200 respectively, tackling high throughput and the flexibility of an optional fifth toner station.

The crucial difference the Ricoh and Heidelberg machines lies in the Digital Front End. And, says Chris Matthews, digital printing equipment business manager, this is a crucial differentiating factor. The DFE employs profiles to achieve a visual match to Heidelberg's offset presses, including on uncoated papers here the normal gloss and vibrancy levels are turned down to replicate how conventional offset inks interact with uncoated.

“The DFE is the one thing that has helped us to machine sales,” he says. This will continue with the new generation presses. The presses have included technology for auto calibration on the EP model and for tighter front to back registration and colour consistency on both presses. The fifth station on the EV model can have neon pink or yellow as well as clear and white toners. The white can be played in the first slot or the fifth depending on the job in hand.

“They have really listened to comments we made about the previous machine. This is the right thing at the right time,” he says. This is partly due to cost per sheet, put at less than 3p for a 300,000 per month duty cycle for the EP or a 4p charge for 100,000 sheets a month for the EV version.

The event last week attracted a strong showing of printers reinforcing the decision to hold the one day tightly focused event rather than a broader two-day open house. It was the opportunity to give a formal launch to the Versafire EP, even if sales people have been extolling its virtues since Ricoh revealed the press some months ago.

The event was also the opportunity for Ricoh Europe's application and innovation manager Andy Campbell to present findings about the value of the fifth colour. According to figures from consultants at Infotrends, extended gamut printing and additional colours can command premium prices, but also that despite buyers being willing to spend more on this style of print, few printers try to sell at close to the prices that buyers indicate they will pay.

“Infotrends indentiified eight key areas: extended colour gamut and spot colours; metallics; fluorescents; white; foiling; textured effects; security inks; and creative use of coatings. Six of these we can achieve today on the EV,” says Campbell who had travelled to Brentford from his usual territory at Ricoh’s Customer Experience Centre in Telford. “This is a massive opportunity, that alone can justify the investment. People that can offer these features can earn from 50-400% margins.,” he says. “but often it comes down to the fact that printers are not good at marketing themselves.”

Gareth Ward

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DFE the difference

DFE the difference

The Heidelberg DFE is a key difference between the Versafire presses and those sold by Ricoh says Chris Matthews. Heidelberg is able to match offset and digital to build hybrid publications that have the same look and feel.

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