Heidelberg starts printed electronics & organics production

Heidelberg enters billion Euro market for printed & organic electronics

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Heidelberg is starting production of printed and organic electronics at the company’s Wiesloch-Walldorf site. Photo Heidelberg
Heidelberg is starting production of printed and organic electronics at the company’s Wiesloch-Walldorf site. 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.

printed electronics Heidelberg web 1
Heidelberg is diversifying to the production of printed electronics. Shown here is printed electronics 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 much more exciting because it uses printing to create not documents or packaging but electronic sensors for healthcare and logistics. Finally, some excitement in print!

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital 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.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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