Nov 24, 2015
On Friday the 20th of November the news broke that the Flint Group has bought Xeikon from previous venture capital owner Bencis, almost two and half years after they bought the digital print and platesetter business from Punch International.
Xeikon will continue to operate in its existing lines of business and will now become a new division known as Flint Group Digital Printing Solutions. Even in terms of personnel, continuity is sought, with Xeikon CEO Wim Maes staying as president of the division. The deal needs the approval of European competition authorities, which is expected by end of 2015 as there should not be any concerns about the transaction.
In some ways the acquisition marks a U-turn for Flint after it sold its nascent Jetrion inkjet division to EFI in 2006. EFI paid around $40 million as its first investment in inkjet printing, in the process starting a new line of business, while digital activities pretty much stopped at Flint. Now Flint Group feels it is ready to throw their hat again into the digital arena, possibly seeing the success the Jetrion business is having today. A bigger driver is likely the changed ownership that Flint Group itself is now experiencing. Since 2014 Flint has been essentially an equity capital owned business, owned by Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking Division in partnership with Koch Equity Development. Prior to that, Flint had grown by acquisition and merger into a leading position in litho and packaging inks. To this day, Flint continues to acquire other ink businesses to consolidate its position.
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Sep 25, 2015
In a huge manufacturing building in the Eastman Business Park in Rochester, New York, Kodak is printing sensors that can be used in touch screens for tablets, computer screens, kiosks, and industrial equipment. The process uses technologies that print service providers will find familiar, but they are being used to achieve a very different end result.
First, a series of flexographic plates are imaged on a modified Creo square-spot plate imager. Each plate has a repetitive design of extremely thin parallel lines. The plates are mounted on a modified roll-fed flexographic press that prints with a catalytic ink on both sides of a roll of clear plastic (similar to the material used for motion picture film). The catalytic ink provides a receptive surface for the next step, in which the printed roll of plastic is immersed in a bath with a copper fluid solution. In that bath, copper is applied to the thin printed lines of catalytic ink. The copper is what makes the resulting print conductive, and that’s why you can make touch screens with this printed component. A darkening agent is applied on top of the copper, and the rolls are then cut into sheets containing the functionally printed sensor that will ultimately go into a touch-screen display. This printed grid of thin, crisscrossing lines is virtually invisible, yet it provides the underlying conductive foundation that is able to sense when someone puts a finger on a touch-sensitive screen.
Kodak touch-screen sensor (showing a magnified view of the touch-sensitive grid)
Today Kodak is printing working production samples that can be tested by prospects who may one day Read more »
May 22, 2013
This month consumers in Europe are beginning to see Coca Cola bottles on retail shelves labeled in a new way. Each bottle has the brand’s familiar swoosh graphic and red and white colors, but with iconic brand name reduced or cut out entirely. Instead, the words “Coca Cola” on the bottle have been mostly replaced by one of 150 most popularÂ firstÂ namesÂ in the country where the drink is sold. HP Indigo WS6600s are printing all the names, essentially a giant exercise in versioning–overÂ 800 millionÂ labels will be used between now and the end of Q3. Special kiosks will be on tour in the region so consumers can personalize their own Coca-Cola bottles. Coca Cola is also enlisting social media, first by encouraging Facebook users to create aÂ virtual personalized Coke can to share with someone, and then look for their own names on bottles in stores. The deal is historic, not just because it’s for Coca Cola, but because it likely is, in effect, the biggest color digital label print job ever.
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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.
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Jul 16, 2012
In June, Screen USA invited a group of industry analysts and trade press editors to its U.S. headquarters in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, not far from Chicago, for a briefing that they called “A Closer Look.” The title is apt, because if you are like me, you may not have understood the full breadth of Screen’s graphic arts offerings.
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Jan 19, 2012
Xeikon had two recent news items relevant to its role in label and packaging markets: (1) it acquired the “Flexolaser” flexo plate-making technology and business of RSD Technik GmbH, which has been a supplier to packaging converters in Europe and (2) it bought the rights to the “Thermoflex” flexo platesetter brand name from Eastman Kodak. Xeikon is best known as a digital press supplier. Being able to also offer key supplies for flexo presses used in label and packaging, though, increases Xeikon’s influence with converters, even ones without digital presses. (Within the Xeikon family, there is already an accomplished supplier of pre-press technology, a sister company called basysPrint that offers CTP systems to create aluminum plates for offset). While the Flexolaser deal involves established products, customers, and brand, the purchase of the “Thermoflex” brand from Kodak is only that; Thermoflex in fact is a discontinued line of narrow platesetters from Kodak, one that Kodak still supports, but for which it offers only reconditioned products. Read more »