Kodak, Re-Focused for 2013: Well Positioned to Advance in Digital Print for Packaging

Bob Leahey
Aug 29, 2012

This week Kodak made news with the announcement by CEO Antonio Perez that his company will focus on commercial, packaging, and functional printing. The choices are not surprising, given prospects now for conventional document printing (down) and for “unconventional” printing such as packaging and labels (up). Kodak is fortifying for life after its planned exit from Chapter 11 next year and has made good choices, all markets where there is still growth for digital printing.

In one of the areas Perez cited, packaging, Kodak is especially well positioned to advance. While Kodak has little or no role now as a supplier of digital presses to that market, it is a top brand among packaging and label converters for the pre-press tools that are vital to them. InfoTrends surveyed 228 converters of packaging and labels in July 2012 (part of “What Do Converters Want?”, a new report). Nearly 66% have computer to plate (CTP) systems, and of those respondents, the #1 brand is Creo/Kodak. For other pre-press and workflow tools used by the converters, Creo/Kodak ranks #2, behind Esko.

Anecdotally, the Kodak Flexel NX CTP system has been popular with label converters, some of whom say it upgrades to near-offset quality the output of their narrow flexo web presses. The Kodak Flexel CTP plates can be in big sizes also, up to 42” x 60” (1067 x 1524 mm), helping wider web flexo presses advance in flexible packaging. That packaging application has been a stronghold for gravure printing, which is well suited to very long runs. However, brandowners are increasingly asking for the shorter, more frequent runs of flexible packaging, so flexo printing and related CTP imaging are both growing there.

What about Kodak as a supplier of color digital presses for packaging? Any discussion of that topic is speculative at this point. However, Kodak is one of the world’s inkjet giants when it comes to digital presses, including color presses, for commercial printing, with Kodak NexPress and Prosper as prime examples. In the future, more than one vendor will offer wide web, high speed color inkjet presses for packaging converting. With its current brand recognition among converters and its existing products for commercial printing, Kodak will be a good prospect to supply such presses.

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