Heidelberg and Ricoh, following the unveiling of their digital partnership in February, have hinted that the Drupa 2012 exhibition next May could be the backdrop for the launch of a number of jointly developed products.

At a joint press conference at Digi: media show in Düsseldorf, Heidelberg chief executive Bernhard Schreier said that the companies had formed a "joint innovation council", with a view to develop and integrate new products as part of the partnership.

"We will maybe have for Drupa some new and fancy ideas on how this collaboration can emerge into other spheres," said Schreier.

The companies declined to reveal more detail on the potential new products, which some industry sources speculated could simply focus on cross-platform workflow or colour management enhancements all the way up to hardware developments.

Speaking the day before the show opened, Heidelberg's Schreier acknowledged the difficulties printers face when sourcing finance for digital kit, and confirmed that the company would offer bundled deals, with kit or consumables, although he stressed this would be decided on "country by country basis".
Simon Sasaki, chairman and chief executive of Ricoh Europe, said: "The synergies of our partnership are clear... Heidelberg can satisfy its loyal customers with a proven digital production solution from Ricoh. And we, in turn, can see more commercial printers benefiting from the productivity and flexibility of our digital production systems."

The Ricoh tie-up followed Heidelberg USA's deal in January to become a reseller, in the commercial print market, of a number of EFI Vutek wide-format engines.