Interview series 20 years label printing – Part 1 with Gallus: “A look in the rear view mirror”
A comment by Matthias Marx, head of marketing at Gallus Ferd. Rüesch AG, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of NarrowWebTech.
Looking back over 20 years to the first issues of NarrowWebTech in 1998 and comparing historically what has happened at Gallus during that time it is clear that 20 years ago, the course was set at Gallus, which still shapes and drives the progress of the company today.
Exactly 20 years ago in 1998, Gallus took the first step towards digital printing with the introduction of the first digital printing press on the market. The Gallus Indigo DO 330 was a label printing machine that digitally reproduced the printed image on a plate cylinder using the electrophotographic process and then applied the image to the substrate via a rubber blanket, similar to offset printing.
At Labelexpo Europe 1999, almost 20 years ago, the concept of the Gallus RCS 330 was introduced as “Your printing press of the 21st century”. Back then, this machine enabled an unprecedented variety of processes to be used such as letterpress, screen, UV and WB flexo printing, hot- and cold-foil embossing and coating.
Later, offset printing was also introduced on the Gallus RCS and today a gravure printing unit is available for this press. Another technical historical milestone of this machine was – and still is – the process change without web interruption. Even today, no machine type can be re-equipped faster from one printing process to another.
Gallus not only took a major step towards leading printing systems and digitization, but the beginning of the 21st century also marked entrepreneurial changes, that still characterise the orientation and future viability of this company.
In 1999, the former CEO of Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG (Heidelberg), Hartmut Mehdorn and Ferdinand E. Rüesch owner of the Gallus Group, signed a cooperation agreement between Heidelberg and Gallus, meaning that Heidelberg acquired 30% of the shares in Gallus.
I’m pretty sure, this too, was also a story at NarrowWebTech. Without this cooperation, many technical developments at Gallus would not have been possible to the extent that still dominates the market today. For example, offset printing had already been introduced on the Gallus RCS 330 in 2005, a collaborative development project between Gallus and Heidelberg, in which Gallus customers benefitted immensely from the know-how of the market leader in sheetfed offset.
In 2014, Ferdinand E. Rüesch finally exchanged its remaining 70% interest in Gallus shares for Heidelberg shares to strengthen the position of Gallus within a more and more digitized industry enabling the company to stay as a market leader in its segment – as did NarrowWebTech. Both – NarrowWebTech and Gallus – are keen on the further development of our industry and how it will look like another twenty years later.