Interest is really high for direct to shape inkjet technology. Add to this, the huge possibilities with the new Heidelberg Omnifire 250 and the interest in football, you could have a match made in footballing heaven.
One of the great opportunities for Heidelberg, according to Frank Janssen, is the sports sector. And whilst the European Football Championships are in full swing, Heidelberg’s direct to shape technology is being put to good use with the digital decoration of footballs.
So with the huge popularity of football, do you think that this sector will see tremendous growth for the Omnifire 250?
“This technology has a tremendous potential for the decoration of footballs. We have a customer currently called Balleristo who has two machines and he’s producing personalised soccer balls – you can order online with your logo on and a selection of balls and get this back delivered to your door. This is an emotionally driven market. People will invest in getting their customised product with either their own team or their children’s name written onto the product itself. For special edition production it offers a great solution as well for gifts.”
So this wasn’t a possibility before the advent of Omnifire 250?
“Usually footballs are printed using screen or pad printing and this kind of approach isn’t really a possibility for people to use otherwise as the cost would be prohibitive. Our technology makes it accessible and to a large extent it opens up a new market, one that didn’t therefore exist previously.”
Is it difficult to print digitally onto surfaces such as footballs?
"With the Omnifire 250 sollution it’s not however in all reality it does have its challenges. The approach we have taken is to develop our own scanning software and robotics with the head used onto the system. The reality is that each football has its own particular shape, there is very little uniformity. We found the best path was for us to develop the software in house which quickly informs the robotics where to print using inkjet. Its quick, precise and personalised."
The Omnifire 250 looks futuristic and compact. Do you see these machines working in sports stores?
“Currently they are not being used within sports stores but that isn’t to say as it continues to get utilised and awareness of this technology grows, there is no reason why it will not be used by retailers who can see the potential of this tremendous technology."
So which country is going to win the European Championships and what player do you think is impressing most?
"I am living in Belgium these days so would like to see Belgium do well. And I think that Belgium looked very good with their 4-0 victory over Hungary - they seem to be growing in the tournament. I was also impressed by Kevin De Bruyne who for me has shone so far in the championships."