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Heidelberg has delivered what it claims are the two longest sheetfed offset presses ever produced, to leading global packaging manufacturer WestRock, with the machines almost half the length of a footy field.

The longest, delivered to WestRock’s Polish facility, is a 42 metre, specially adapted, custom configuration of a Speedmaster XL 106, with a total of 20 printing and coating units.

20 printing units, 42 metres long: Heidelberg produces world's biggest sheetfed press, destined for WestRock

In addition, Heidelberg is supplying a further Speedmaster XL 106 with a total of 19 printing and coating units to a WestRock site in Germany – the second longest in the world.

According to Heidelberg, the record-breaking presses supplied to WestRock can print “particularly high-quality and eye-catching” packaging. With its large number of printing and coating units, the highly flexible long Speedmaster XL 106 configuration is suitable for handling a wide range of packaging applications with coating and metallic effects, as well as sustainable products – completely inline, double-sided, and in a single pass.

This record-breaking press represents a key Heidelberg business strategy: “We help our customers simplify their printing processes and boost their productivity by offering them a high level of automation and flexibility, something that is especially important at a time when the skills shortage is becoming more acute worldwide,” says Heidelberg CEO Dr Ludwin Monz.

With annual growth of approximately 2.3 percent forecast, the folding carton market is a strategic growth segment for Heidelberg.

Around half the sheetfed offset presses Heidelberg sells and installs go to packaging customers. “Heidelberg is now the market leader in packaging printing, with Speedmaster XL technology playing a key role,” claimed Monz.

The trend toward more sustainable packaging, such as folding cartons, is driving demand. According to Heidelberg, cartons are increasingly replacing plastic packaging, in everything from food and cosmetics to pharmaceuticals.

WestRock is a global leader in sustainable paper and packaging solutions with more than 50,000 staff. In Australia it operates the old Hannapak site in Richmond, which it bought in 2017, and which has a battery of Roland 900 presses. WestRock is currently in the process of merging with Smurfit Kappa, to create what will be the world’s largest paper packaging business.

Mark Shaw, business leader, EMEA and APAC at WestRock said, “Innovation and sustainability are the bedrock of WestRock’s operation, and by investing in print technology from Heidelberg we are future-proofing our capabilities for our customers. There is no better demonstration of this than the two longest presses in the world being developed specifically for WestRock facilities. As brands continue to drive demand for sustainable, fibre-based packaging, through our continued investment and industry-leading expertise, we are well positioned to meet these needs.”

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