Processless plates cut waste and consumables, as well as improving production efficiency. Kodak Sonora is gaining market share at a healthy clip.
Kodak recently announced the opening of its extended plate factory in Columbus, Georgia, USA. Kodak’s investment is in response to growth in its North American market, specifically for the Sonora processless plate technology introduced at drupa 2012. This customer base grew by 400% between mid 2012 and early 2015.
The new plant is designed with headroom for Sonora. However Todd Bigger, director of product management and marketing, in the print systems division says “we don’t speak of the capacities we have in any of our manufacturing facilities”. He adds that “we can significantly increase our volumes of Sonora over and above what we have today”. Kodak closed its Leeds plant at the end of August and now has three main plate plants: one at Österode, Germany for Europe; a factory in Xiamen in China for Asia; and the Columbus plant for North America. All have equivalent capacities to produce Sonora plates, which will be available for a range of sectors.
All three plants are closely matched in performance and have the flexibility to grow or contract. Bigger says: “Our capacity is fairly balanced”. He expects the Columbus plant to be “helping to expand the capacity and reach of Sonora and to help local sourcing”, to improve supply line efficiency. He adds: “Over next couple of months we will be ramping up supply”. This will free up capacity in Österode, Germany for the European market.
Sonora, like competing processless technologies, offers operational efficiency, lower cost of operation and sustainability because it requires no processing chemistry. Sonora’s secret is in its ultrathin coating which doesn’t use hydrophilic resins and absorbs font solutions, rather than contaminating them. It’s tough enough for runs of 100,000 sheet-fed or 200,000 on a web press and can withstand UV inks up to 10,000 impressions.