Heidelberg Embarks on Development of State-of-the-Art Printing Research Facility
In the presence of Theresia Bauer (Green Party), minister of science, research and the arts for the German state of Baden-Württemberg, Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG (Heidelberg) officially launched its new development center project at the company’s Wiesloch-Walldorf site. In 2018, the center for around 1,000 working places will be home to the world’s most state-of-the-art research facility for the printing industry.
Heidelberg is setting new standards by investing some €50 million in the new innovation hub. This will create the No. 1 competence center in the printing industry, which has a global annual turnover of around €400 billion, a figure that is increasing.
“This investment represents a new beacon in Baden-Württemberg’s research landscape," Bauer said. "Building a development center of this size and quality proves that Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG bases its decisions on a long-term strategy and makes the future worth looking forward to."
Rainer Hundsdörfer, Heidelberg CEO, said, "We deliberately chose Baden-Württemberg because it combines an excellent environment with highly qualified experts. A highly modern and future-oriented working environment will be created in Wiesloch-Walldorf, designed to support interdisciplinary and cross-functional development processes."
Despite the difficult economic situation in recent years, the company at no time cut its research budget, focusing instead on developing new, innovative products and services.
The printing industry now requires new applications and control technologies. Alongside traditional offset printing, digital printing will also be part of the future and will ensure that the sector enjoys continued growth. It caters in particular to the trend toward flexible and personalized extremely short runs. Digital 4D printing — the printing on three-dimensional objects made from all kinds of materials — also underscores this trend. It enables customized printing of glass, wood, plastic and other materials. Heidelberg is the first company to have developed a number of digital presses for industrial use.
What’s more, customers’ presses are networked with Heidelberg, which enables new services to be offered. As a result, maintenance work can be carried out and materials such as inks supplied promptly. Industry 4.0 is now part and parcel of Heidelberg, because speed is vital in both the offset and digital worlds.
A further indication of the company’s transformation is the fact that there are now more than 250 software specialists working there. And in addition to the traditional areas of expertise, Heidelberg has also started employing chemists. One reason for this is because the company is now developing and producing its own environmentally friendly inks for numerous new applications.
“The example of Heidelberg is demonstrating that even a large company can reinvent itself,” Bauer said.
She firmly believes that not only Baden-Württemberg, but the entire German printing industry will benefit from this.
“Combining development, service, and production at a single location close to the customer will make us even faster and more efficient in the future,” Stephan Plenz, member of the Heidelberg Management Board responsible for equipment, said.