Kodak targets embellishment opportunity with new Ascend

Jo Francis
Thursday, October 7, 2021

Kodak CEO Jim Continenza has vowed that the firm will be “the last company standing in plates” as the manufacturer announced a raft of new products including a new electrophotographic digital press targeted at packaging and point-of-purchase.

Ascend: "best of both worlds with CMYK plus embellishment"
Ascend: "best of both worlds with CMYK plus embellishment"

Speaking at the product launch, Continenza said he was proud of Kodak’s leadership team and employees for delivering on his ‘one Kodak’ revamp that replaced its old divisional structure and product silos. 

“We are all in on print. We’re passionate about this industry and we have leading products in this industry – it’s who we are,” he stated. 

“We are committed to being the last company standing in plates. We’re going to keep investing in print and plates, in particular Sonora. I’m excited about where this is going to end up.”

Jeff Zellmer, vice president global sales and strategy, said the new product launches were rooted in customer feedback. “Asking printers what they need to be successful is the foundation of every product – the voice of the customer is what we list to.”

New Ascend model announced
The raft of product announcements included the Kodak Ascend digital press, which uses new Kodachrome dry inks and can handle heavy substrates up to 762microns. 

It has five print units and prints in CMYK plus a choice of 13 embellishment options, including opaque white, antimicrobial clear, foil, gold and pearlescent dry inks, and with the option for custom Pantone brand colours. 

The inks are indirect food contact safe. Target markets include high-end packaging and retail signage and point-of-sale. 

The technology is multi-bit dry electrophotography with a resolution of 600x600x256dpi. The long sheet size is 356x1,219mm, which Jeff Perkins, vice president of digital sales, said resulted in a larger printable area than a B2 sheet. 

“You get the best of both worlds with CMYK plus embellishment,” he said, with the Ascend’s rearrangeable print stations and eight minute changeover “six times faster than all our competitors”.

Print speed is 7,200sph A4, 3,600sph A3, and 1,320sph for the long sheet. 

The press is a duplex device, with manual duplexing for the very heavy long sheets. 

Pricing is still under wraps, but Perkins said the economics of being able to produce so many embellishments inline were compelling compared to using multiple devices. 

The press will be available in Q2 2022 in North America and Europe. “We are taking pre-orders,” Continenza quipped.

Prinergy On Demand for SMEs
Kodak also introduced a new variant of its Prinergy cloud-based workflow, with the launch of Prinergy On Demand Access providing a cost-effective option for smaller printing businesses that don’t need enterprise level tools required by larger firms. 

“The Access workflow software is a SaaS-based subscription model that enables our customers easily to connect to a browser-based interface and have all of the capabilities of Prinergy and Insite in an easy to connect solution,” said Todd Bigger, vice president for print.

“This offers our customers an efficient and scalable way to connect so that they can create the size of Prinergy system they need, and they can change that over time through the Prinergy On Demand portal.”

Bigger said it was quick to implement, and would be relevant for the firm’s smallest customers through to midsize customers with both digital and traditional print setups.

It will be available in Q1 2022.

Inkjet varnish
A new water-based matt digital varnish for Kodak Prosper systems aims to help customers save money on the need for flood coating. 

It can be jetted on a specific area, or as a spot coating and works with Prosper imprinting systems and S-Series presses. 

Perkins said it was durable and would dramatically reduce coating costs in hybrid printing applications.

Mobile app for plates
Zellmer said the pandemic had spurred further developments to the Kodak Mobile CTP Control App, which was now “even more powerful”.

Remote working and social distancing meant customers turned to tools that let them manage tasks remotely, with the Mobile CTP app “reducing a dependency on onsite labour for managing jobs in queue, status updates, and more”.

The new version includes real-time and historical performance data.

It is available now for Android and iOS devices. 

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