12 February 2019 Digital Printing Technologies

Kodak wants packaging to achieve Creative Freedom

Kodak is working to educate brands, designers and converters into the benefits of the Creative Freedom that digitally printed packaging can deliver.

Kodak is aiming to convince brands and designers of the benefits of digital printing to achieve a pull through demand for its platforms and technology. The Creative Freedom campaign is supported by work to validate the inkjet technology and inks to print on PET, nylon and polypropylene materials and to ensure that the inkjet inks will work with established primers, vanishes and adhesives. It is an approach to open an ecosystem around the inkjet technology as best suited to flexible packaging in particular thanks to inks that are certified to US and European standards for food safety, direct skin contact and food service products.

Digital printing has a role to play in accelerating time to market by shortening the testing stage, for promotional campaigns and for short runs around events or for localisation. This is the demand that converters need to adapt to and which is answered through either fully digital printing or a hybrid approach where inkjet is used to overprint and add variable data.

Brands, argues Kodak, need both more sustainable production, creative flexibility and to test these designs and products without committing to flexo plates or gravure cylinders. This has led to work with the likes of Michelman to qualify the consumables and technology and the joint development with Uteco on the Sapphire Evo press. This can run with the standard materials and consumables with inkjet to deliver flexible packaging.

To date three presses are in operation: two at Nuova Erreplast and one for Kinyoshain Japan. Kodak will also sell its own Prosper 6000S, a single-sided press that can be combined with flexo units to print the fixed design template and brand colours using inkjet for variable and short batch information. But there is potential for a hybrid approach in packaging by adding a Prosper head to an existing press.

This has proved attractive to newspapers and mailing houses and while seen as a concept at exhibitions, it has not proved practical for packaging. The Prosper Plus seeks to change that. There are four models, two with a 105mm print width for barcodes, a line of promotional text or logo in mono or four colours, and two at 210mm wide. Speed is either 260m/min or 600m/min.

The wider head is able to print a full A4 page for offset, flexo or gravure presses or to add value in a finishing line. The Prosper Plus delivers a smaller droplet size and higher resolution which means less of the ink on the media to dry. It will also fire a varnish, for both durability and high impact gloss that is needed on packaging.

Despite the advantages that digital bestows, adoption of digital printing has been relatively slow. This is blamed on a combination of consumable cost, a failure to understand life cycle cost for packaging and lack of knowledge among brands and designers.

The water based Kodak inks are accepted as the lowest cost in inkjet printing, with improved quality and throughput speed now available, Kodak is hoping that education of the potential user and customer base will deliver the long awaited breakthrough.

Enterprise inkjet systems division president Randy Vandagriff says: "The packaging market demands innovative, sustainable, productive solutions. Kodak’s water based inks provide the lowest cost, the highest versatility and the most environmentally friendly option for production inkjet printing. Brands and creative agencies are now able to make printed packaging a physical touchpoint to digitally connect with consumers, unleashing creative flexibility with colour palettes and substrates along with operational efficiency to get to the market faster.”

By Gareth Ward

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