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DIGITAL digest

June 2008
Kodak Users Get the Real Deal

LAS VEGAS—More than 300 members of the Graphic Users Association (GUA) of Kodak Solutions recently gathered at the Wynn Las Vegas for the North American group’s annual meeting. “This year’s conference was our biggest and best yet,” said current GUA President Tom Clifford, who is also a prepress technology specialist with RR Donnelley.

Having “unfiltered access to executives and product specialists from Kodak” is a key benefit of attending the event, Clifford noted. “Most important, the team from Kodak. . .genuinely listens to our feedback and takes it into consideration when developing new products and features.” He also strongly encouraged attendees to make use of GUA’s online forums as a resource throughout the year.

For Kodak’s part, “the North American GUA Conference provides an invaluable opportunity to receive data and comments directly from users,” added Dave Wigfield, managing director, United States and Canada Region, Kodak’s Graphic Communications Group.

Phil Faraci, president and COO of Eastman Kodak, gave the keynote address. In regard to the company’s health, Faraci reported that the organization was able to keep its revenues roughly flat in recent years, despite the dramatic decline in film sales, and had returned to profitability in 2007. He said this was a major change that is enabling the company to have a new relationship with customers and focus on growth.

Kodak’s Stream ink-jet printing technology is expected to be one area of growth in the future, Faraci said. Given the technology’s offset-class quality and low print cost (on the order of 1 cent per page), he added that “it could be a very viable commercial printing platform.” The first press incorporating the technology is expected to print at more than 500 fpm and a resolution greater than 600 dpi for quality in the 150 lpi range.

In a later session on ink-jet printing developments, Stream color printing samples were passed around, including side-by-side comparisons to versions of the same pieces printed via offset. Most were image intensive, rather than heavy on text or featuring color screens. It took some degree of inspection to identify which was which, although the text was a give away in Stream samples. Those pieces only gave an indication of the potential quality since development is ongoing, and Kodak has said it doesn’t expect to commercialize a four-color press version of the technology until 2010.

The company planned to introduce the first Stream product at Drupa in the form of a 4˝ print head capable of printing with black ink at a 600 dpi resolution. Also set for launch was the Versamark VL2000 color ink-jet (drop-on-demand) printing system capable of printing 250 fpm at 600 dpi.

Attendees clearly came to the GUA conference to learn, even given the temptations of Vegas. A session on Prinergy 5.0 was standing room only and the hot ticket (for an additional fee) was to the “Rules-based Automation” class sessions. More than 50 presentations and roundtable discussions were offered over the course of four days, covering topics such as workflow, color management, digital printing, sustainability, MIS and transitioning from a printer to marketing services provider. There was also a lab area where hands-on product demonstrations were offered.

During a special breakfast briefing, Clifford and other members discussed the board’s goal of increasing user participation in the association. In her column this month (page 72), Cary Sherburne highlights a marketing campaign GUA did this year to that end.

While the conference can stand on the merits of its content, several board members pointed out that the incentive offered by Kodak ensures a return on attending the conference. In 2008, North American attendees received a $3,000 credit toward the purchase of select software solutions within six months. Users from the same company site or sister sites may combine up to three credit offers for a total value of $9,000.



Shop Adds A Big Ink-jet Footprint

MISSISSAUGA, CANADA—Even by large-format printer standards, the Onset four-color, UV ink-jet machine from Inca Digital Printers is really big. Its 101⁄2x5-foot print area and flatbed design mean the unit takes up a lot of floor space, especially when it is configured with automatic material handling systems. Displaying the printer at the average trade show simply isn’t practical.

As an alternate way to at least give the media a first-hand look, Inca and its distribution partner, Fujifilm Sericol, recently piggybacked a briefing with the customer open house held by its first North American installation site, Holland & Crosby. The majority of the 30-employee shop’s work is point-of-sale materials for the retail sector. It continues to operate a four-color, in-line screen press and an EFI VUTEk 3360 roll-to-roll ink-jet printer, but sold an Inca Turbo ink-jet printer and a two-color screen press when it installed the Onset.

“The term ‘breakthrough’ is used a lot, but it (the Onset) truly is a breakthrough,” said Scott Crosby, an equity partner in the firm. He and his partner were crunching numbers within hours of first seeing the machine and signed an order about a month later. The printer’s output and square-foot cost were what sold them on it, according to Crosby.

Onset is a play on words with the term offset, said Terry Mitchell, director of marketing for Fujifilm Sericol USA. Designed for point-of-sale and other display work, the printer is being positioned to fill the production gap below the competitive range of large-format offset presses, Mitchell explained. It primarily is a lower-cost alternative for most, but not all, screen printing and offers greater productivity than previous digital solutions, he added.

With a top output speed of 500 square meters per hour, the printer is two to six times faster than other digital flatbed devices, asserted Bill Baxter, Inca’s managing director. Its productivity is ensured by incorporating 576 print heads into the imaging unit, thereby providing the nozzle redundancy required for fault-tolerant operation, he said.



digital bytes

CHICAGO—IPA, the Association of Graphic Solutions Providers, has published an independent, technical examination of digital printing systems, including devices from HP, Kodak, Konica-Minolta, Xeikon and Xerox. Copies can be purchased online at www.ipa.org/digitalprint.

SAN DIEGO—Printable Technologies and Kodak’s Graphic Communications Group announced the integration of Printable’s Web-to-print solution, FusionPro Web, with the Kodak EMS business software. The products are being interconnected through a combination of Web services and data streams. PI

 

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