The German press giant has revealed that its new solution will involve a digital device costing circa €100,000 (£84,000), with a speed of 80-90ppm. This will run in combination with its Anicolor sheetfed press and be integrated into the Prinect workflow, with a 'job gate' to route jobs to the most efficient output option.

What it is yet to confirm is the identity of its digital partner, although Konica Minolta is thought to be the frontrunner. Canon and Ricoh have also been mooted.

Stephan Plenz, board member responsible for equipment at the group, said it had carried out an analysis of the short-run market and calculated the cost per job via different digital and litho methods. "We took typical job mixes from some of our customers. The breakeven point is exactly between 200 and 500. So if 250 is the breakeven for the Anicolor, how many jobs really require the quality of that performance digital product?"

Plenz added that Heidelberg's analysis showed less than 10% of short-run jobs required variable data. "For the majority, this solution fits much better economically. The click charge model where you have to print a lot just to reach a good click charge with your supplier, is just too expensive.

"Instead, they have an Anicolor and one of these [Heidelberg's digital device], and they make a fortune."

Plenz said around 70% of its customer base already had a digital press but questioned how many were actually making money from digital. "Most paid more than they expected," he stated. "Target number one is the guys with more than two performance digital presses from HP, Xerox or Kodak."