Heidelberg will next year launch its own Digital Front End to drive the Linoprint series of Ricoh based digital presses. In the first phase of the partnership, Heidelberg had accepted the Fiery Rips that were supplied with the C901 and C651 engines, linking these to its Printect workflow as output devices.
But now it is building its own rendered with colour management and workflow that is all Heidelberg’s own. Ricoh is understood to be considering elements of the Heidelberg work for the Rip to drive the two new presses announced at the end of September.
Heidelberg is to brand these as the 90ppm Linoprint CV for the five-colour machine offering clear toner and white toner options and the Linoprint CP as the 130ppm machine. The same functionality in terms of continuous operation, selection of substrates, image format, and inline finishing will be offered with the Heidelberg branded engines.
Thanks to the DFE development the second generation of machines has become “more Heidelberg”. Jason Oliver, head of Heidelberg’s digital business segment, says: “The newly developed Digital Front End from Heidelberg generates decisive added value for users. Indeed, besides getting better quality and productivity from digital printing systems, print shops also want to be able to control and manage as many applications as possible via a central workflow. That is precisely where the strengths of the Prinect Digital Front End come into play.”
The development will not be too harsh a blow for EFI. Heidelberg has sold around 500 Linoprint C machines since the partnership was unveiled in 2011. And Fiery continues to generate big revenues for EFI, around $250 million this year. However, the US company has had the market place pretty much to itself as Kodak has shifted priorities away from developing the Creo DFE that was the only alternative to Fiery.
Heidelberg will also make the DFE a key part of its Prinect Media Manager cross media database development. This is the first outcome of its partnership with Neoseven software company it acquired shares in earlier this year. Prince Media Manager has been under beta test at BVD Druck +Verlag in Lichtenstein and is now available commercially. In concept there is a central database holding core media assets such as images, designs, text and videos. Both print business and the pilot customer BVD works with are able to access the database, edit the contents and trigger the production of print and digital products in multiple languages. Changes need only be made once to be implemented across all products. A change to the specification of a power tool for example, would be automatically effected across the different catalogues and web pages for example.
Oliver adds: “This solution underlines our commitment to making rapid moves into new, promising areas of business through partnerships and cooperation agreements.”
In the UK, Heidelberg has recruited Darren Godfrey to head digital press sales in the south reporting to Chris Matthews. Godfrey joins from Balreed and before that from Konica Minolta. An equivalent for the northern half of the UK will join the business in Q2 next year.