Kodak upbeat on inkjet prospects

By Jo Francis, Friday 16 June 2017

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Kodak is making a multi-pronged attack on the packaging market with its existing high-speed inkjet technology, and has reported that development of its next-generation Ultrastream product is on track.

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Ultrastream: development is on track

US packaging printer Zumbiel Packaging began installation of the first Prosper 6000S press for folding cartons earlier this week. It is being installed at the firm’s digital plant in Kentucky in a hybrid configuration, together with seven flexo towers and inline die-cutting.

“Our systems are so different [to existing digital printing solutions]. We are talking about ‘production digital’ – high-speed, high-volume and low-cost,” explained Don Allred, senior director for worldwide sales of innovative applications at Kodak's inkjet business. “It allows brands to plan and execute quickly on marketing campaigns. That is a key differentiator of the Prosper technology.”

He said the just-in-time digital production philosophy had a “tremendous impact” on the working capital requirements of brands.

“We are talking to brands about gaining market share through mass marketing opportunities,” he added.

One of Zumbiel’s specialities is beverage multi-pack cartons, and it plans to use the system to produce promotional packs. President Ed Zumbiel said: “In our world you don’t do anything in large volumes using sheetfed. We can produce 20,000 12-packs an hour on this hybrid system.

“We can run it 100% digital if we want to, but mostly we plan to run it in hybrid mode. The digital element can be one panel on the box, we don’t have to spread digital ink over the whole box,” he added.

Kodak already has 150 of its Prosper printheads deployed in a variety of packaging applications worldwide, including ‘perfecting at the folder’ applications for printing offers and promotions on the reverse side of cartons, which streamlines the perfecting process.

In flexible packaging, the Uteco Sapphire Evo press, incorporating Prosper heads, that was previewed at Drupa has been further developed and will be installed at Uteco’s demonstration facility in Italy by the end of the year. The first customer, an Italian flexible packaging printer, will receive their press in Q1 2018.

“If a customer is producing between five and 15 million square metres of flexible packaging a year, they will put seven figures on their bottom line in the second year through using this technology,” Allred claimed.

Kodak also described its ability to print water-based inks onto films and plastics as “revolutionary”.

“The reason we focused on water-based ink is because if you’re going to go after the high-volume, mainstream play you need an innocuous solution. With UV it’s very difficult to get compliance. And water is low-cost. We don’t believe there is anything cheaper than water-based,” said Randy Vandagriff, the newly-appointed president of Kodak’s Enterprise Inkjet Systems division.

It is also pushing ahead with the next-generation Ultrastream inkjet technology, which prints 600x1,800dpi at up to 150mpm.

Kodak has 19 partners signed up to adopt the technology, with evaluation kits for one- and four-colour printing set to reach the initial batch of partners by the end of the year.

It has an 11.5in wide four-colour Ultrastream press running in its Dayton development lab.

“We found a lot of print quality anomalies in the samples [from other vendors] we saw at Drupa,” said director of OEM partnership development Dan Denofsky. “I believe we have a technology here that others are not able to do and we believe we can go head-to-head with them. It’s as good as anyone else in the industry and rivals offset.”

Kodak is also talking to partners who are specifically interested in using Ultrastream for sheetfed applications, Vandagriff said.

 

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