Kodak: next-gen Sonora plates open up process-free to all

By Jez Abbott, Tuesday 13 March 2018

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Kodak claims that its new Sonora X plates mean “nearly every" offset printer can now benefit from process-free platemaking.

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The new Sonora X plates build on Kodak's existing process-free technology

According to Kodak, the new plates have been specifically developed to remove many of the performance barriers to process-free adoption.

Sonora X process-free plates offer longer run lengths, faster imaging and more robust handling capabilities than other process-free plates, the company said.

Kodak estimates up to 80% of the offset print market will now be able to go process free.

The new plates are targeted at large commercial sheetfed printers, heatset and coldset web printers, offset packaging printers, and printers running UV and low-energy UV inks.

In addition, the new Sonora X-N process-free plate extends the technology to medium and large newspaper printers.

Product marketing manager for plates Pam Patterson said Sonora X "will appeal to a new set of customers".

“These are the printers that weren’t able to use our existing Sonora XP and Sonora News due to limitations such as run length capability.”

Sonora X plates can run up to 400,000 impressions with heatset or commercial coldset web presses and up to 200,000 impressions on sheetfed presses, she said.

They can run up to 100,000 impressions for offset packaging with non-UV ink and up to 60,000 impressions for UV-ink applications.

“Both plates [X and X-N] provide the same benefits with the same base technology. The primary difference is in the sizes and formats required by different types of printers.

“Newspapers require specific plate sizes and formats, and Sonora X-N Plates are designed specifically for those customers.”

Sonora X plates can print two to six times longer than Sonora XP plates, depending on application. Meanwhile improved exposure sensitivity maximises platemaking throughput on faster platesetters.

Enhanced anodizing and coating technology increases the robustness of the plate so it can withstand highly automated or fast-paced operating environments where plate durability is crucial.

Kodak launched its process-free technology in 2005 and says thousands of printers have used it to simplify platemaking, eliminate plate chemistry and ease the maintaining and running of processors.

Kodak rolled out Sonora XP and Sonora News Plates in 2012. The Sonora X and X-N plates will become available worldwide in the second quarter of 2018.

“Kodak’s goal is to make printing more sustainable and profitable for printers by eliminating processing and chemicals from platemaking,” said print systems division president Brad Kruchten.

“Dramatic improvements to run length and handling enable the market fit for process-free to expand to up to 80% of the market, thus making Sonora X truly mainstream.”

Druckerei Lokay in Germany was one of the first printers to test and convert to Sonora X plates having previously used Sonora XP plates.

Owner Ralf Lokay explained: “Sustainability is a business advantage for our company; over 75% of our customers print with Lokay because of our strong commitment to sustainability.

“Sonora plates play an important role. Since converting to process-free plates we have reduced water consumption by more than 30% and eliminated all chemicals.”

Kodak forecasts the trend to process free plates will grow and anticipates 30% of the company’s plate volume will be process-free by 2019.

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