Kodak moves into corrugated

Kodak is rolling out its “game changer” NX technology for wider prints but has more developments in store for the currently overlooked corrugated sector, says Kris Capiau, packaging director for the Middle East, Africa, Turkey and Eastern Europe.

Kris Capiau, Kodak packaging director for the Middle East, Africa, Turkey and Eastern Europe

Kris Capiau, Kodak packaging director for the Middle East, Africa, Turkey and Eastern Europe

He told Packaging MEA that the folding carton has shifted “from being a transporting and protecting agent to being a marketing object”, but the regional market has yet to adjust.
“I see a lot of focus on flexible and label printing, to a certain extent,” said Capiau. “I don’t see a lot of focus on corrugated printing. So I think there is a big potential of growth in the corrugated print market.
“I think there is enough supply for folding cartons, especially for offset printing, but corrugated is something not touched much and it is becoming more important as a marketing tool. So there is a very big growth potential. There are also not many players in the market as yet.”
Kodak is now bringing its NX technology to corrugated print while developing a “hybrid full digital press” with its own inkjet technology but “press and paper moving technology from Bobst”.
“Just like when we introduced Flexcel NX for the flexible market, we believe that the Flexcel NX 5080 NX wide will also be a game changer for the corrugated print market,” said Capiau.
As in the flexible market, Kodak’s NX technologies involve flat top printing dots and full panoramic planography plates, bringing all the printing dots in line with the surface.
“You don’t have any extra pressure on your plate to have your highlights printing out along with your shadows,” said Capiau.
“This is extremely important for the corrugated market because this reduces the amount of compression on the flute.”
Kodak is also releasing new resolution-enhancing technologies for the NX system, he added. “We are developing new technology that will allow us to actually print isolated dots. This technology will be coming in one of the next releases of the Prinergy system,” he said.
“We will also introduce new RIP solutions… a RIP with all the core technologies built-in for people who already have the existing RIP solutions but want to take advantage of the very advanced screening we have.
“We are also introducing new technologies on the DigiCap NX… [which] allows the printer to increase his colour densities and at the same time drastically reduce his actual ink consumption.”
With the 5080 system, Kodak is bringing a new CTP with new lamination and also a new set of plates. “We’re calling the traditional Flexcel NX plate the Flexcel NX H – for ‘hard’ – and a new set of plates for corrugated the Flexcel NX C – for ‘corrugated’,” he said.
“The softer plate for the corrugated has obviously higher compression rates and will allow a drastic increase in the printable lpi for the printers.”
The CTP device is also capable of exposing DITR, a film material that can be used with any conventional flexo plate and applications such as silk screen printing, liquid polymers, and die-making stations.
Capiau added that the development of the NX system for corrugated has been driven by the sector’s need for higher-quality printing.
“The folding carton has moved from being a transporting and protecting agent to being a marketing object,” he said.
“It’s now the POI [point of interest] in the supermarket. So the print quality has to go up. There are two possibilities for this. One is you would offset print your liner and then have it glued on your corrugated board or you increase the quality of corrugated printing, which is exactly what we are looking at.
“The current presses are actually capable of printing this high-quality printing. Now that we deliver a plate that is capable of printing the same high quality, I think the future is really into direct printing on corrugated material.
By year-end, though, the company will present an alternative approach for shorter runs, he added.
“At the same time, joint developments with Kodak and Bobst are resulting in new developments that are coming around by the end of this year,” he said.
“It will be a hybrid full digital press but it will include the inkjet technology from Kodak and the press and paper moving technology from Bobst.
“So we bring a press that will print directly into the corrugated material at the same high quality as what we are achieving with NX but ideal for shorter runs.”

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