Heidelberg Buys CSAT, a Top Digital Print Tech Supplier to Pharma

Bob Leahey
Aug 10, 2011

Press manufacturer Heidelberg Druckmaschinen AG (Heidelberg) announced on July 29 that it acquired CSAT GmbH, based near Karlsruhe, Germany, for an undisclosed price. Heidelberg is one of the world’s top makers of conventional presses; it is also a supplier of related technology such as workflow software and, through its young Linoprint subsidiary, drop on demand color inkjet presses for label printing. CSAT is a much smaller company, and one that manufactures both electrophotographic and inkjet presses for labels and packaging, mainly for use in the pharmaceuticals industry.

The news adds significantly to Heidelberg’s portfolio of technology and products for the digital printing of packaging and labels. Although CSAT is a small company, with only about 70 employees, it has big accomplishments as a supplier of digital print solutions. The company has manufactured 2-color laser printers for label and foil lidding printing by drug manufacturers for about 20 years; the current iterations are the 1200 dpi CSAT DTS1200, and the CSAT 6335/6135 printers. Since 2009, the company has also marketed a drop on demand CMYK inkjet label press, the ITS 600, based on Xaar 1001 heads.

On balance, what Heidelberg has netted is an established and credible manufacturer of color digital printing solutions for use by drug companies. While CSAT said two years ago at its ITS 600 inkjet press introduction that it wanted to broaden its sales to include label converters, the company’s core market still appears to be companies that make pharmaceuticals and, to a smaller extent, medical products. As a result CSAT has a list of customers in the one manufacturing industry with some incidence of in-line or near in-line color digital printing. In other vertical industries that produce consumer goods, most manufacturers rely almost exclusively on outside converters to print labels and packaging.

CSAT is attractive not only because of its customer list but also its printers go beyond the label application and into the printing of blister foils and inserts, and lidding materials, all vital to the drug field. One sign of how steeped CSAT is in the field is that its inks are designed to resist heat up to 300 degrees Centigrade (570 degrees Fahrenheit), a standard needed to protect print during package sealing processes. The closest competitor to CSAT in term of printing products and market focus is Hapa AG (Volketswil, Switzerland).

Resolve: The CSAT news is one more sign of Heidelberg’s strategic focus on packaging. Heidelberg now has multiple elements that support its role in label and packaging applications: its purchase earlier in 2011 of CERM, the packaging software company; its Very Large Format (VLF) sheet fed presses, the Speedmaster 142 and 162, for folding carton printing; its Linoprint division, which offers the piezo based single pass inkjet press; its ownership interest in Gallus, a maker of presses and finishing equipment for label and folding carton; and now CSAT.

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