Heidelberg starts printed & organic production at Wiesloch-Walldorf

Heidelberg in billion Euro market for printed & organic electronics

Heidelberg starts printed & organic production at Wiesloch-Walldorf
Producing printed sensors and electronics for health care in hygeinic conditions on a Heidelberg-Gallus narrow web flexo press at the Waldorf-Wiesloch plant Photo Heidelberg

Heidelberg has diversified and set up a dedicated business unit for the industrial development, manufacture, and sale of printed and organic electronics. The company has also started production at its Wiesloch-Walldorf site, investing some five million Euros in a complete production line for printed sensors.

Sensors developed at the InnovationLab (iL) in Heidelberg for use in dental technology are set to be printed first. These innovative printed sensors make it possible, for the first time, to record the distribution of masticatory pressure during occlusion digitally, that is to say, when the upper and lower jaws come together. The 3D visualization on a tablet and data archiving enables malocclusions to be identified and subsequently corrected.

A hand-held reader can dynamically record masticatory pressure distribution thanks to innovative printed sensors Photo Heidelberg
A hand-held reader can dynamically record masticatory pressure distribution thanks to innovative printed sensors Photo Heidelberg

Looking further ahead, Heidelberg is to use state-of-the-art printing technology at its high-tech campus to produce sensors for other digital applications – in particular in healthcare and logistics and also in the retail and automotive sectors. “Embarking on the development and industrial production of printed and organic electronics represents a milestone for Heidelberg and Germany as an industrial player. As we see it, our involvement in this production of high-tech sensors opens up the potential for growth in the two- to three-digit million Euro range,” said Heidelberg CEO Rainer Hundsdörfer.

Heidelberg is investing in the production of printed and organic electronics, which offers billion euro market potential. Photo Heidelberg
Heidelberg is investing in the production of printed and organic electronics, which offers billion euro market potential. Printed electronics shown on a Heidelberg Gallus narrow web flexo press Photo Heidelberg

The future industrial printing of organic electronics and the associated software and hardware development represents a first for the German mechanical engineering company. It will take digitization forward in leaps and bounds. The new sensor printing technology makes Germany’s high-tech industry, a world leader in this area of development. In operational terms, its introduction offers Heidelberg a whole host of development opportunities, printing sensors mile after mile on an industrial scale in a cleanroom environment. The technology and the sheer scale of output in this form are currently unrivaled anywhere in the world.

Our view

Great news for the industry. It is good to see this innovative response from Heidelberg to the overall crisis gripping the offset press manufacturing industry. Everyone talks about printed electronics, and what was needed was someone to invest in making it happen and blazing a trail to show how it can be done. This diversification will be a great inspiration to Heidelberg customers. When speaking with Heidelberg CEO Rainer Hundsdörfer, one gets the feeling that he is never thinking just about sheetfed offset or web flexo presses. Earlier, he got Heidelberg to make charging connecting connectors for electric automobiles. This diversification is even more exciting because it uses printing to create not documents or packaging but electronic sensors for healthcare and logistics. Finally, some excitement in print!

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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