Customer event in Göttingen, Germany, brings together all the latest news about Kodak, updates on new products and user experiences
The Kodak Innovation Day, which was held for the first time in September 2018, was targeted at entrepreneurs and senior executives in the German-speaking printing industry. Eighty participants were treated to an informative mix of presentations on specific technologies and experience based discussions; by the end of the day, it was clear that Kodak regularly sends out innovative signals for both the present and the future of the graphic communications industry.
Dr. Peter Trampler, Cluster Business Director Northern Europe and Vice President of Kodak’s Print Systems Division (PSD), kicked off the one-day event with an overview of “Kodak today”. He explained how more than 85 percent of the company’s revenues are generated with the global printing industry. It is therefore only logical that Kodak should be driving the research and development of printing technologies with unbroken intensity, both for graphic communications and for totally new applications linked to industrial production processes. With a whole series of market-ready innovations over the last five years, the Print Systems Division provides a shining example here. Among other things, ten different offset plate types have been launched in various parts of the world, and a string of new digital production color press models have appeared in the market for electrophotographic printing along with numerous value adding features. Process-free plates and digital production on KODAK NEXPRESS and KODAK NEXFINITY Digital Presses were therefore the event’s thematic pillars.
KODAK SONORA X Process Free Plate: One system suits (nearly) all
According to Kodak, the KODAK SONORA X Process Free Plate – which was introduced to the market in spring 2018 – is suited for 80 percent of all modern offset printing applications. Freddy Eckel, Sales Director D, A & CH and Eastern Europe North, PSD, stressed the major improvements in the new plate type: higher speed imaging in the CTP system, significantly longer run lengths with both conventional or UV cured inks and more robust handling.
Martin Lind, Managing Director of DBM Druckhaus Berlin-Mitte GmbH, and Manfred Hardeweg, Production Manager at LUC Medienhaus (LUC GmbH) with facilities in Selm and Greven, described some of the typical everyday challenges in a lively panel discussion. Both companies meanwhile use the SONORA X Process Free Plate. Process-free plates from Kodak have been the norm at DBM for more than eighteen months now. On the other hand, LUC Medienhaus only changed over to process-free six weeks upfront of the event when its production technology was reorganized with the aim of streamlining platemaking and CTP backups.
For DBM, which prints in medium and large-format sheetfed offset, process-free technology is an important element of its green business strategy. The print provider already has the EMAS and Blue Angel labels and according to Lind, process-free plates enable savings in terms of water, energy and chemical consumption far exceeding the strict Blue Angel requirements. “They also have an effect on quality because the results we achieve are better and more stable,” he commented. “We currently get through 65,000 square meters of process-free plates a year. Production runs very smoothly with the SONORA X Plate and we can also print a lot with FM screens. There’s absolutely no reason to do a U-turn or reconsider our decision.”
LUC Medienhaus produces everything in LED UV on two presses with sheet turning. Manfred Hardeweg praised the SONORA X Plate’s excellent stability, adding that runs of more than 280,000 sheets have already been completed for jobs with AM screening. “It reduces plate handling in the prepress department, which means there are also fewer scratches on the plates, and because no gumming solution is required, we have none of the problems that are otherwise commonplace when the plates are mounted in the press,” Hardeweg reported. The discussion continued with an analysis of process-free’s various unique features, including new solutions to make the imaged plates– which have a relatively low coating contrast – compatible with the automated plate identification systems of today’s presses by means of simple inkjet marking.
Moving forward with CTP
Kodak also invests continuously in the development and commercialization of CTP technology, which is closely related to plates. Diverse innovations over the last few years attest to this, for instance the energy efficient KODAK ACHIEVE and KODAK TRENDSETTER Platesetters or the fully automatic multi-cassette units for this CTP system series. Eckel emphasized to those present at the Innovation Day that when it comes to CTP technology, Kodak intends to stay out in front in the future. That’s why the company is driving the research and development of core components like thermal imaging heads or CTP automation capabilities parallel to expanding its range of platesetters, with more details expected to be revealed next year.
Digital sheetfed in a new dimension
The new KODAK NEXFINITY Digital Press, which Kodak positions as the most versatile of its kind in the market, was presented as a key innovation for digital printing applications. During another panel discussion Dirk Harrsen, Manager Service Engineering Team Kiel and Senior Service Specialist at Kodak, shed light on one of the press’s particularly innovative features: the NEXFINITY ships with a new 8-bit LED writing system that quadruples the density of information being imaged to 1200 dpi with 256 exposure levels. The patented KODAK Dynamic Imaging Technology, which is computed at 12 bits of data, optimizes images automatically using proprietary computational screening algorithms. That tightens control of dot sharpness, boosting quality and consistency over long runs. According to Harrsen, Dynamic Imaging Technology results in massive efficiency improvements. For one thing, it guarantees exceptional consistency no matter how long the production cycle. For another, it increases lifetime of operator replaceable components (ORCs) and reduces essential maintenance, so that the cost of ownership is radically lower.
In a panel discussion, two users who could scarcely be more different analyzed their practical experience of KODAK NEXPRESS Digital Presses: Markus Dombrowsky, Managing Director of Karten-mal-anders.de in Hohenhameln, and Alexander Kirchner, Managing Director of Kirchner Print.Media in Kirchlengern. Whereas Karten-mal-anders – whose products are sold to end users over the Internet – specializes in short to very short runs, which have been produced exclusively on the NEXPRESS Press for six years now, Kirchner Print.Media is a full-service printer that only became acquainted with digital about four years ago and for the last twelve months has been using the NEXPRESS Press to expand its capacity for high-volume sheetfed offset.
“Ninety percent of our business is weddings.” Dombrowsky left no room for doubt: “That’s why our cards and all our other products have to be perfect. “We often produce just a single copy, including free advance samples. If the customer then comes back two or three months later for the actual print run, they expect the same high quality and repeatability. The NEXPRESS’s high consistency is an immense advantage for us for that reason.” His company, which is really a graphic design center with a digital print shop attached to it, relies on standardized and highly automated production processes and employs only a limited array of papers, all characterized by good printability. Nevertheless, Dombrowsky appreciates the enormous flexibility with respect to substrates because it gives his team leeway to develop new products. This contrasts with the day-to-day routine at Kirchner Print.Media: “Every material that we use in normal offset production also runs on the NEXPRESS Press,” Alexander Kirchner affirmed. “That can be anything from 60 g recycled paper through 80 or 90 g label stock to 500 g Heaven 42 or other types of carton. Hard and soft PVC up to 0.35 mm are likewise possible, as are other synthetic materials.”
Both users confirm the manifold benefits of the NEXPRESS’s Fifth Imaging Unit, and both have opted for Light Black Dry Ink as the standard color. “We use Light Black virtually all the time. Colored areas, skin tones and the gray balance are much better that way,” Dombrowsky reported. Kirchner described one example of how the Fifth Imaging Unit allows the color gamut to be expanded with red, green or blue ink: “We produce business cards for banks and insurance companies continuously in relatively small print and five custom colors. Thanks to the high stability when reproducing spot colors, the quality is frequently superior to offset. We calibrate the press every day, of course.”
News about workflow automation and cloud services
Against the background of today’s two mega trends – digitalization and Industry 4.0 – Michael Oetjen, UWS PreSales Solution Consultant, presented the latest news from Kodak’s Software & Solutions Division. He showed how Kodak has built up a complete, open ecosystem around the KODAK PRINERGY Workflow System as the core component. In combination with KODAK INSITE Software Solutions and other application software, it covers the entire digital value chain for printed products and packaging, from the creative phase all the way to the press – with a high level of automation and the online involvement of customers, creative professionals and other stakeholders.
Oetjen focused particularly on PRINERGY Cloud, a series of new SaaS services which supplement and extend PRINERGY Workflow. The following services are available so far: Decision Analytics dashboards, Dynamic Print Planning (automatic job ganging and press planning), File Archive and Backup in the cloud and – brand new – the Ink & Plate Usage Service, which uses smart analytics to optimize consumable usage and identifies ways to reduce costs. Oetjen confirmed that more cloud services are in the pipeline.
All in all, the Göttingen get-together was an ideal opportunity for Kodak to demonstrate how it is driving innovations across the board and continuously developing and optimizing printing technologies that add real value for users. The feedback from those present at the Innovation Day was overwhelmingly positive, and Kodak is already looking at the options for a repeat event in 2019.