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.
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.
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.
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!