Exclusive interview with Heidelberg

Ahead of this December’s Digital Print for Packaging Europe we spoke to Bernhard Schaaf, Project Manager at Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG, about his presentation on extending market positions with digital production systems in packaging printing, the latest industry innovations and developments, how he thinks the industry can overcome challenges and much more.

Smithers Pira: Your presentation at DPP Europe is on ‘Extend your market position with digital production systems in packaging printing’, can you tell us a bit more about this and why this is an important topic for the industry right now?

Bernhard Schaff (BS): Those who are understanding the ongoing digital transformation in products and production processes will be on a better market position in ten years’ time. I would like to discuss strategic planning options, based on individual product mix and cost structure in order to provide ideas for extending business opportunities and gaining market leadership.

Smithers Pira: What do you feel will be the most exciting developments in the digital print for packaging landscape in the next 5 years?

BS: Fully automated process chains, based on connected digital system components and controlled just by software will become a realistic scenario. The dream is coming closer! Starting from order management, admin, production up to dispatch/shipment of the final packaging products. The idea of a 24/7 – SMART FACTORY, based off the industry 4.0 idea, will be established in the packaging industry in the forthcoming years – a production flow that never stops! WEB2PACK is a new and fast-growing market for which digital printing is so critical. Creating systems that drive the print shop like one machine! One of the key competences of Heidelberg is to supply full integrated systems, software and hardware, from pre- to post-press, integrating analogue and digital production systems. In addition, based on the current needs of brands to track and trace their goods and counter fight illegal copies, digital print will revolutionise the way brands can be more effective in track, trace and security.

Smithers Pira: What are some of the most innovative things happening in the industry?

BS: Digital print in folding carton production, and in particular water-based inkjet printing. Up to now, industrial digital printing systems have been well established in publishing, commercial and label production as well as in other applications mainly with focus on thinner substrates. Heidelberg’s Primefire 106 will be the first industrial digital printing system in format size B1 that can handle carton and board adequately and covering a very wide range of spot colours. The water base dinks and other liquids are food compliant. The high resolution inkjet prints sheets on offset quality level – or even above. Therefore, it is the perfect complement to traditional print technologies.

Smithers Pira: What are the latest technology developments in digital printing?

BS: The latest technology development is currently in water-based inkjet printing on an industrial scale.

Smithers Pira: What are the main challenges the industry is facing and how do you think this conference can overcome them?

BS: Changing and rethinking of existing packaging products and processes is difficult where projects, organisational changes and investments have to be agreed within the company. The times are changing, the sooner this understanding comes up, the better. The networking at the conference should provide new impulse for innovation.

Smithers Pira: How do you think Digital Print for Packaging Europe will benefit attendees?

BS: They will get an indication of which direction our industry and markets are moving.

Smithers Pira: What are you most looking forward to at the Digital Print for Packaging Europe conference?

BS: Discussing new product and production possibilities with print shop representatives and brand owners. Listening carefully to their future demands!


Bernhard will be presenting as part of the How Digital Print Drives Growth in Folding Carton and Corrugated Packaging session at the conference this December. Other speakers in the session include Bobst, Landa, HSG Packaging, Kodak, Zumbiel Packaging, Alexir, Qualvis, Xerox, Konica Minolta and more. 

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