Last updateTue, 11 Aug 2020 6pm

Heidelberg's XL 75 Anicolor Launch Exceeds Expectations

Heidelberg threw a hotly anticipated coming-out party for its groundbreaking XL 75 Anicolor digital offset press on March 19 at the company's North American Print and Packaging Technology Center (Technology Center) in Kennesaw, GA.

The information-packed event marked the North American launch of Heidelberg's most recent addition to its short-run color portfolio.

Nearly 200 customers and prospects turned out for a series of demonstrations and discussions highlighting the XL 75 Anicolor's cost efficiency for digital market run lengths in 29" format for commercial, label, package printing and POP applications. After experiencing the capabilities of the press first hand, visitors bore ample witness that the XL 75 Anicolor enables printers to save more than 90 percent in costs for inks and coating, as compared with 29" digital technologies available from HPIndigo and others—a salient advantage driven mainly by the fact that there are no forced consumables choices.

"Second to None"

"The open house for Anicolor XL 75 was one of the best industry events I have attended in the last 10 years," said Jim Clark, director of operations for McNaughton & Gunn, a book printing specialist located in Saline, MI. "The demonstration was beyond impressive: five makereadies in 22 minutes using five different materials and five different designs, and sellable color within 20 sheets. The format of the open house encouraged us to take a deep dive into the technology," he continued. "For those of us who took the plunge had an opportunity to review the press from feeder to delivery, it was a revelation. Understanding the technology always makes it easier to justify any purchase. The XL 75 Anicolor is second to none in the offset world."

Highlighting the event was a panel discussion and Q&A session moderated by Joerg Daehnhardt, director of product management for Heidelberg USA, during which eminent industry experts and technology users shared their insights about the growing market for short-run offset. Panelists included Mark Bohan, vice president, technology and research with Printing Industries of America (PIA), who was among the first to get a ground-floor, behind-the-scenes look at Heidelberg's Anicolor technology since it received a prestigious InterTech™ Technology Award from PIA.

"I've been following the development of Anicolor technology for several years now," Bohan said. "I was happy to participate in what turned out to be an unusually lively and very interactive discussion sparked by the outstanding capabilities of the XL 75 Anicolor press. When it comes to short-run static work—as determined using Heidelberg's data and PIA's PrintAS calculator—the XL 75 Anicolor press displayed a significantly lower crossover than many in the industry had anticipated, at approximately 250 sheets. The business implications of these findings clearly were not lost on the printers in attendance."

Short-Run Champ

Since drupa 2012, printers have heard a drumbeat of publicity about opportunities in half-size production with digital equipment, especially in low volumes. When it comes to the intersection of 29"production and digital market run lengths, however, the XL 75 Anicolor raises sharp questions about how effective digital presses like the HP Indigo 30000 and 10000 really can be in half-size applications.

Paying close attention to a session comparing the ROI of the 29" XL 75 Anicolor with digital cost-per-click models was Terry Richards, president of Victor Printing in Sharon, PA. "Printers typically struggle with the decision to switch over to digital, so it was nice to find out we don't have to give up the advantages of offset to engage in profitable short-run color production," he said. "When you factor the in incredible paper savings, no ink zone adjustments, and a short, stable ink train that minimizes waste, eliminates ghosting, and brings the press to color in 20 to 30 sheets, the XL 75 Anicolor certainly looks like a winner."

In point of fact, Heidelberg's "digital offset 2.0" solution succeeds both in short runs and in longer jobs with levels of cost efficiency and quality no digital press of any size can match. In extremely short runs with variable content, the cost-per-page advantage still belongs to digital. But, above a break-even threshold of 250 to 325 sheets, there simply is no practical reason to choose a digital press over a XL 75 Anicolor for static short-run multi-color printing.

"Customers are rethinking their approach to the short-run color market," Daehnhardt said. "Anicolor technology leverages the competitiveness of offset against the limitations and forced consumable choices associated with digital printing. As a result, questions like: 'Do I really need variable print, or just the ability to manage the growing number of SKUs?' are being answered differently than six months ago. As the PrintAS Calculator from PIA shows, the Anicolor XL 75 digital offset press takes over cost leadership at run lengths down to 250 sheets."

Changing the Conversation

The introduction of Anicolor technology in a 23" x 29" press format is one of the most significant developments by Heidelberg in many years—and not just because of how far it advances the capabilities of offset printing.

"Heidelberg has refocused the central question," Daehnhardt said. "The issue is not whether digital will or should replace offset, but which technology demonstrates cost leadership most persuasively. For printers worldwide, the choice of modality is a profit-driven calculation above all. Heidelberg's XL 75 Anicolor press raises lithographic production to a new stage of competitiveness in the kinds of work where printers traditionally have made the most money."

"The Anicolor XL 75 is a game-changer," Clark agreed. "Those of us who thought we might never buy another piece of offset equipment will have to rethink our position. This press has the capability to produce in one shift what we currently produce in three. The real challenge for most of us as we look at the XL 75 Anicolor is how to streamline the rest of our operations in front of the press to feed this beast."

For many printers, a better investment strategy than a 29" digital press is a best-of-both worlds combination that consists of a Speedmaster XL 75 Anicolor and a 13" x 19" Linoprint C 751 or C 901 digital press. In tandem, these platforms cover all the bases: run lengths, formats, variable-print requirements, flexibility in consumables, and the ability to fulfill the most stringent quality expectations.

Interested in Learning More?

Heidelberg will continue to promote its short-run color options at an upcoming Open House on May 6. In addition to the XL 75 Anicolor press, the May event will highlight the Linoprint C901 and C751 sheetfed digital and VUTEk wide-format solutions. It also will give visitors an opportunity to experience Prinect-enabled color management across platforms. Between 80 and 100 existing customers and prospects are expected to attend.

Heidelberg will sponsor a webinar on May 22 at 11:00 a.m., during which Joerg Daehnhardt, Director of Product Management for Anicolor and VLF, will review currently available short-run options in the 29" format segment, both digital and offset, and field questions from participants.



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