Kodak Sonora X - Consistent Innovation

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Developing Innovation

When Kodak decided to reimagine the print plate process, they invested in the technical and creative resources needed to create transformational technology. Undertaking this type of innovation fell in line with the company’s history and vision. Kodak’s deep technical expertise across print technologies, manufacturing excellence, market presence, and a legacy of breakthrough innovations provided the foundation for taking on the transformational technology path that led to Sonora X.

Kodak’s objective in the Sonora development process was to make significant improvements to the offset production print processes while addressing the negative impacts that traditional plate technology had on the environment.

The evolution of a product, and especially a product that fundamentally enhances productivity, is not a one-step process. 

 

Objectives

Kodak’s product development strategy incorporated a few key goals. The Sonora program focuses on driving transformation with a focus on Quality, Operational Effectiveness, and Environmental Awareness. Within each of these areas, there had to be a significant and measurable improvement.

Quality covers the end-to-end deployment and use of the Sonora plate technology. From the materials and processes used to create the plate, to the technology and methods used to develop the plate, to the quality and reliability of the plates themselves, and most importantly, the consistency and quality of the images produced by the Sonora plates.

Environmental challenges and focus have been increasingly front and center in many industries, and the specialized and complex world of production print presents a unique set of opportunities.

Operational effectiveness is greatly enhanced by the reduction in process steps needed to achieve excellent print quality. Process materials, process equipment, and all the workflow steps required with traditional process plates go away.

Market acceptance/Market Reluctance

Commercial printers have long enjoyed success using familiar tools and processes that at the time, delivered the best, most reliable output. Workflow processes, while complicated, were predictable and familiar within the walls of their operation.

The world, though, was not standing still. Environmental concerns have taken a spotlight position in every industry and every geography. The printing industry saw opportunities to be more effective ecological stewards while maintaining productivity and profitability. However, more thought needed to be given to the way results were achieved. Hence, Kodak's focus on process-free plate technology.

Early Success

Early versions of process free plates showed great promise. Some challenges limited the use of the technology, however. Hurdles such as slow imaging speeds and limited run lengths made it impractical for higher volume printers to embrace the changes entirely. The encouragement of significant positive environmental impacts and notable cost savings kept the product evolution moving forward. Kodak continued to invest the necessary resources to reduce the roadblocks and increase the quality and durability of the Sonora line. 

Sonora XP

In 2012, Kodak released the Sonora XP Process Free Plate. With innovative breakthroughs in coatings that could be removed on press with no detrimental contamination, the barriers to process free receded.

The plates achieved performance and features comparable to mainstream processed plates. These product improvements opened up the market, bringing process-less print plate technology to a broader range of print operations.

Innovations

Continued innovation drove the Kodak team to develop a plate that could:

  • Image at faster speeds;
  • Print longer runs under various conditions;
  • Handle higher resolution print jobs;
  • Provide more robust handling;
  • Increase scratch resistance;
  • Enhance UV printing run length.
     

Production printers recognized the value of these enhancements, which resulted in nearly 4,000 printers around the world using SONORA Plates by the end of 2017.

Next Generation Innovation

In 2017, the R&D team at Kodak achieved a technology breakthrough that brought process free plates capabilities up to the level of unbaked processed plates. With the KODAK SONORA X Process Free Plate, Kodak estimates that up to 80% of offset printers will be able to use process free plates.

The term ‘Niche’ no longer needs to be tied to process free plates. Printers who want to reduce costs and environmental impact in their operation should take a close look at process-free plate technology. The technology has advanced to the point that most printers amongst all applications can take advantage of both the economic and environmental benefits, without sacrificing productivity or print quality.

Green Thinking

Environmental challenges and focus have been increasingly front and center in many industries, and the specialized and complex world of production print presents a unique set of opportunities.

Kodak focused on developing a process free plate technology that meets or exceeds the measures for quality, durability, and operational friendliness in a significantly more environmentally responsible fashion. 

With Sonora X, there’s no plate processing step. This process saves water and energy and removes chemicals and waste: the results – a lower overall carbon footprint and lower operational costs.

  • Less water

Water scarcity is a global problem. SONORA Plates let printers do their part to save water by completely eliminat­ing the water used in prepress.

  • Less energy

SONORA Plates eliminate energy usage from plate processing and baking.

  • Less waste

Eliminate all processing chemistry, including all the hassles and costs of handling, shipping, storage, and disposal.

       

 KODAK SONORA Process Free Plates
Safer for people and the planet, good for business.

 

With SONORA Process Free Plates, printers show their customers and community that they are environmental leaders by eliminating all the chemicals, water, energy, and waste associated with plate processing.

 

Economic Benefits

Process free production certainly brings great benefit to the environment. There are also real and significant economic advantages of going to a process free print plate.

The financial advantages of switching to Sonora X are found across the production print environment. An analysis of the material, equipment, and process step eliminations within the production workflow highlight significant cost savings.

 
Process Materials Process Equipment Additional Utilities Lost Productivity
Acquisition Cost Acquisition Cost Water Remakes
Storage Cost Installation and Training Electricity Downtime
Usage Cost Additional Infrastructure Floor Space   Cost of Compliance
Disposal Cost Service Contracts/Labor Costs Additional HVAC  

While each print environment is different, the costs associated with each of the above categories can run from hundreds to thousands of dollars a month. You can find a more detailed breakdown in the informative White Paper: “Economic Benefits of Using Process Free Plates."

The environmental benefits of process free plates are really just the icing on the cake. The main benefit of using process free plates is that they can save a printer money.




Growing Presence

Printers who want to reduce costs in their operation should take a close look at Kodak’s SONORA X process free plates. The technology has advanced to the point that more printers than ever before can take advantage of both the economic and environmental benefits, without sacrificing productivity or print quality.

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