14 May 2017 Analogue Printing Technologies

German printer enjoys benefits of Kodak's Sonora UV process free plate

Cre Art's print operation has been the beta test site for the UV version of Kodak's Sonora plate, and endorses the benefits gained.

The print production arm of German advertising agency Cre Art in Fulda is one of the first in Europe to use Kodak’s Sonora UV process plate.

The company employs around 40 at several sites in the town near Frankfurt. The award winning agency side concentrates on concept development and creation. It started its own print operation in 1976, with two litho presses. It installed the latest of these, a Manroland Sheetfed 700 HiPrint hybrid press a year ago. It was an important step for the company.

Around half its production is for the agency, half for commercial clients. The press itself is also able to switch between conventional litho inks and UV thanks to two LEC-UV low energy lamp systems. There is also a conventional UV dryer to ensure top quality results on varnishes applied through the inline coater.

Torsten Gröger is both production director and responsible for customer service. He says: “We’ve got a reputation in the market for specialised solutions and for our ability to develop and print products no-one else dares to touch.

“The path we’re following into the future is that of a niche printer. We’re not aiming to break any volume records working three shifts flat out – instead we reflect every single day on how we can set ourselves apart from the rest.

“UV printing is a good way for us to break free from the interchangeableness that currently dominates the market. Our UV press allows us to print demanding, complex jobs on any substrate with a variety of inline special effects.”

With the press came the opportunity to act as a testbed for the UV version of the Sonora process free plate that Kodak had started to develop. On May 26, a date that Gröger remembers well, Cre Art began using the new Sonora XP process free plate. It had used another chemistry free plate, but this had needed to be cleaned after imaging.

“We’ve been printing without any problems ever since,” he says.

The company has a Kodak Trendsetter Q800 II Quantum platesetter with an autoloader option holding 50 plates. The II Quantum platesetter technology is set to deliver a cross modulated 250lpi screen as standard, a conventional 200lpi screen for a few specific applications. Likewise 90% of the 700 plates used each month are for the B1 press, the remainder for a five colour plus coater B3 machine used for smaller format jobs, including the inner sleeves of vinyl records.

The new press introduces the business to the benefits of UV printing: instantly dry sheets regardless of the stock, enabling the job to be finished immediately or the sheet printed on the reverse with no time lost; no spray powder and lower energy consumption, no heat in the sheet, ozone-free printing and no odour in the sheet or the production process.

“What really makes the difference here is the freedom the LEC UV process gives us to also print on difficult substrates reliably and with brilliant results, for instance on recycled or uncoated papers, synthetic materials of all kinds, or metallised papers,” he continues.

However the benefits come at a price. The UV inks are more aggressive which means a change in consumables and it means that plate life is restricted. Using the Sonora XP plate, Cre Art can expect a life of 7,000 impressions when running the press in LEC UV mode.

Kodak suggested the company might become the beta site for the new Sonora UV plate as this would provide longer runs. A Kodak specialist provided further support, helping to set the press up for best results. It has worked, the only difference being the power needed from the laser in the platesetter which needed to be increased for the new plate. Now the company can run either the standard Sonora XP plate where short runs are required or the Sonora UV for longer runs.

Gröger says: “In the meantime production with the Sonora UV plate is very stable and we can manage up to 20,000 impressions depending on the substrate.”

Both press and plate were put to the test in printing the Cre Art annual calendar. It has been produced to showcase the company’s talents for the last 16 years and has won eleven medals in the prestigious Gregor International Calendar Award, most recently with a silver in 2016.

The 2017 calendar, themed as Clarity, used the Sonora UV plate and the techniques enabled by the new press.

“We can produce complex and demanding jobs on any substrate,” says Gröger, “thanks to the new Sonora UV process free plate and the numerous UV and finishing extras with which our press is equipped. The level of creativity and quality is very high and this kind of work would have been technically impossible only a few years ago.”

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Kodak Sonora UV

Kodak Sonora UV

Kodak's Sonora UV plate doubles the expected life of the Sonora XP process free plate when used on presses with new generation UV inks and drying. German printer Cre Art has tested the plate and can vouch for its performance.

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2017: Kodak announces availability of Sonora UV

2017: Gemini Press joins ranks of Sonora users

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