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Heidelberg has named Ricoh as its digital partner, entering a global distribution contract to sell and support the Japanese company's Ricoh Pro C901 Graphic Arts Edition machine and PxP Chemical toner.

The deal, which includes service and support, will roll out initially in Germany and the UK, with a global agreement due to be in place for Drupa 2012. Heidelberg's agreement with Konica Minolta in Australia will remain in place for the time being.

The first public demonstration of the companies' products working together, with the C901 Graphic Arts Edition machine integrated into Heidelberg's Prinect workflow software, will be at the digi:media tradeshow from 7-9 April, Dusseldorf.

Initially, the companies will work on integrating colour-management and basic shopfloor data into Prinect, but ultimately this will also include variable data.

A spokesperson said that the Heidelberg had decided that it did not want to partner with digital vendors of performance machines, such as HP, but rather the 'lower value segment'.

"We wanted to find someone to round off our Anicolor," he said. However, it found that several of the vendors were already in talks with other offset manufacturers.