Operating at an unprecedented speed of 21,000 sheets per hour, the Speedmaster XL 106 paves the way for a big productivity boost in folding carton printing.

Product Manager Bernd Isaak explains how HEIDELBERG has succeeded in offering this new peak performance level without compromising on print quality or stability. He also reveals which users will draw particular economic benefits from printing at a world-record speed.

Mr. Isaak, why is the printing speed so important for packaging in particular?

Manufacturers of folding cartons for everyday commodities such as food and household products need to hold their own against international competitors. Production costs are a key factor. This segment still sees orders with comparatively long runs, where a higher production speed has a direct impact on competitiveness. Being able to produce a larger volume in a shorter time with the same costs for personnel and space delivers a significant competitive advantage.


What are the specific productivity gains?

We have increased the maximum printing speed of the Speedmaster XL 106 by around 16 percent. Our customers are often already operating at the maximum printing speed and would like to go even faster. We have responded to this and once again pushed the boundaries of productivity.


Does that mean the Speedmaster XL 106 also counteracts staff shortages?

Yes, under certain conditions. We are talking about a market segment with an annual growth rate of around three percent, partly due to the fact that cardboard is increasingly replacing plastic as a packaging material. Companies need to provide the necessary capacity, but the relevant personnel are proving ever harder to find.


Is it not the case, though, that electricity consumption increases along with printing speed and that high energy prices therefore partly cancel out the cost benefits?

No, that is a fallacy. The reason it stubbornly persists is that many people know from their own experience that a car uses more gas as its speed increases. With printing presses, on the other hand, the energy consumption per thousand sheets falls as the speed rises. We therefore offer interested customers equipment that measures energy consumption and transparently shows how the energy used for a print job can be reduced as the printing speed increases.

The higher the production speed, the more likely it is that undesirable side-effects will occur. These include ink mist and problems with the drying of coatings. How does HEIDELBERG ensure stable operation without compromising on quality?

All Speedmaster XL 106 presses with a speed of 21,000 sheets per hour are equipped with an ink mist extraction system, an appropriate delivery extension, and an additional dryer module. A throughput of just under six sheets per second places especially high demands on the mechanical equipment. The feeder was therefore a potential sticking point. Thanks to the new direct driver, however, it works as smoothly as ever, even at 21,000 sheets per hour. In the delivery, meanwhile, new gripper bars and the dynamic sheet brakes ensure excellent robustness and precise stacking. These are just two examples. We have scrutinized every single aspect of the press and adapted it to the new printing speed. It goes without saying that the consumables also need to be suitable for such a high production speed. HEIDELBERG has the ideal solution here, too, thanks to its Saphira products.


How do you ensure high press availability in three-shift operation?

I have already touched on how mechanically robust the press is. We have also developed components that make some maintenance tasks entirely superfluous. Our special high-volume cam followers in the sheet guide system have a completely maintenance-free design. There is no need for regular manual lubrication either. Exactly the right amount of oil is now applied to the bearer rings fully automatically at precisely defined intervals, which totally dispenses with this manual maintenance operation, too.


How does the new press make life easier for operators?

The Speedmaster XL 106 with a speed of 21,000 sheets per hour for folding carton printing is always supplied in an elevated configuration. Maximum pile heights reduce the extent of material logistics prior to printing, while the non-stop systems on the feeder and delivery and the pile logistics are fully automatic. Operators simply need to monitor these highly automated processes and only have to intervene in the event of a fault.

The Press Center Mobile web application is completely new. It provides information about the current status of the presses and does so in real time, directly in a browser on a computer, tablet, or smartphone. This application also automatically prepares a “to do” list so that operators always have vital information to hand, including about the timing of the next job change and the inks and coatings that will be needed.

How is the Speedmaster XL 106 incorporated into the overall process to maximize output?

Thanks to the Prinect workflow from HEIDELBERG, the press is networked with the prepress and job preparation stages. This provides the relevant job and ink presetting data, which cuts makeready times. HEIDELBERG and its partner MK Masterwork offer a wide range of die cutters and folder gluers for postpress operations on the printed sheets.


Under what conditions does the investment pay for itself fastest?

The Speedmaster XL 106 with a speed of 21,000 sheets per hour really comes into its own with longer runs. It is designed for print shops that are already operating at close to the maximum press speed in the standard substrate thicknesses of 0.2 to 0.6 millimeters. The payback period for the investment should be two years..

Bernd Isaak

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Bernd Isaak

Bernd Isaak

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