Steeped in tradition, the history of the Heliograph companies is punctuated by revolutionary inventions and milestones. “Based on Innovation” is the claim on which all our
products and solutions are based. It is what makes our network of companies so strong. We are particularly proud of the five revolutionary inventions listed below.
The key gravure prepress innovation that turned this traditional printing method into a predictable industrial process dates back over 50 years. By eliminating carbon tissue etching, electromechanical engraving helped secure a lasting improvement in gravure’s competitiveness. Complementary inventions include the 8 kHz and 12 kHz engraving heads and multi-head engraving. Electromechanical engraving is still the best imaging technology for contone images and vignettes.
A quantum leap was achieved with the development of laser technologies for imaging of high-volume, high-resolution text, linework, screens, truly three-dimensional structures and recently contones on both metal cylinder surfaces and flexo printing forms as well as on ceramics and plastics. Heliograph companies were the first to adapt lasers to direct structuring in applications for gravure and embossing rollers. The invention of direct laser engraving involved coordinating laser source, optics, mechanical engineering, data flow, and screening on the one hand and post-processing of the lasered surfaces on the other. Both technologies now form an integral part of the portfolio of several Heliograph companies.
Heliograph did true pioneer work in automation. It started by automating the individual units for plating, polishing, electromechanical engraving, measuring, and dosing chemicals. This required such innovations as the automatic engraving test cut, cone clamping for adapterless handling of different cylinders – including hollow ones – in all plating tanks and polishing units. At the second stage, the automated units were combined to form fully automatic lines complete with a master control unit, graphic visualization, database, and interfaces to other information systems. It was the storage and transportation processes with loading and unloading systems, cranes, shuttles and in line storage systems that made it possible to integrate the individual units into a single line. Heliograph can now configure complex installations of this kind in the form of complete, customizable solutions.
The key to this innovation in our network of companies was combining highly specialized, partly contactless measuring methods with high precision machining centers for gravure cylinders. Daetwyler was the pioneer in milling, while Kaspar Walter developed the combined turning, grinding, and polishing machine. Daetwyler Graphics is the group company that is now taking fully automatic processing machines to even higher performance levels.
Heliograph is the only supplier worldwide to offer a unique combination – namely, a selection of four different laser sources and three CTP architectures that can be combined flexibly for specific applications. Infrared (940 nm), thermal/high-power thermal (830 nm), and UV
(375 nm and 405 nm) diode laser arrays can be implemented in Lüscher’s internal drum, external drum, and flatbed CTP systems. This crossover technology covers a huge range of requirements in printing form manufacture – all direct and indirect offset, flexo, and letterpress methods, including coating plates, round and flat screens, and – thanks to etching mask ablation and direct UV imaging – steel printing plates and films. Micro images for security applications are no problem either – with the laser sources achieving an unprecedented physical write resolution of 10,160 dpi!