Kodak advanced its line of Sonora XP process-free plates to be more applicable in larger commercial printing operations, expanding upon the product’s previous fit primarily with small- and medium-sized printers. 

Sonora XP plates are now available in larger widths of up to 1,495 mm and with a 0.40 mm gauge, allowing for their use in more demanding manufacturing environments. The larger process-free plates maintain their abilty to reduce requirements for chemistry, electricity, water and equipment during processing. Kodak plans to start producing even larger plate sizes over the coming months.

“More than 2,000 customers have embraced the process-free revolution started by Kodak," stated Rich Rindo, General Manager of Kodak’s Worldwide Graphics Marketing organization. "The Sonora XP process-free plate is the next step in the evolution of process-free thermal plate technology."

Kodak describes Sonora XP plates as being used in small, medium and large commercial sheetfed operations, as well as with printers running commercial heatset and coldset web presses, offset packaging applications, and short-run UV. Kodak states that its Sonora XP line represents "the only true process-free plates commercially available in [VLF] formats."

Agfa Graphics at its headquarters in Mortsel, Belgium, launched an addition to its ThermoFuse product line of what the company defines as chemistry-free plates.

The new Azura TU, aimed at the commercial sheetfed printers, is a thermal plate product with a rated run length of 150,000 copies or 10,000 in a UV printing environment. Azura TU holds a daylight resistance of up to 48 hours.

The TU plate works with Agfa’s Azura CX clean-out and a pH-neutral gum for cleaning and protection. Azura CX has a bath life of up to 7000 m².

“Switching from a conventional plate to Azura TU means less waste, less disposal costs, less maintenance, and a safer work environment,” stated Dirk Debusscher, Vice President Prepress, Agfa Graphics. “It also equals water savings of more than 95 percent.”

ThermoFuse technology was first introduced around a decade ago, which, in addition to Azura TU, forms the imaging foundation for Agfa’s Azura TS, Azura Vi, Amigo TS and N94-VCF plates.

Van Son Holland Ink Corporation has expanded its line of Wide Format line to include Canon and HP products. Its inks also serve Epson, Mimaki, Roland, and Mutoh owners.

“We are excited about the response we have received in the market for our wide format inkjet inks,” said Paul Fedorys, Business Development Manager for the Wide Format Division of Van Son. “Due to the high demand for wide format we will be expanding our line to include ink for HP and Canon wide format printers.”

The company first launched a line of wide format premium inkjet inks in September 2011, encompassing solvent, dye inks and dye sublimation inks. It added a new line of Grand Format inks this past September at PRINT 13. The inks are available in both cartridge and bulk packaging formats.

Sun Chemical introduced new SunVisto Advantage HS inks for use on corrugated stocks, based on what the company describes as delivering both the print quality and the pH stability required for this printing segment.

“Brand owners are increasingly demanding higher graphic quality on standard corrugated linerboards,” stated Tony Renzi, VP of Product Management Packaging Inks, North American Inks, Sun Chemical. “With the new SunVisto Advantage HS, converters can achieve excellent print quality for their customers while also improving their internal pressroom productivity as fewer adjustments to pH levels need to be made during long runs.”
SunVisto Advantage HS inks are designed to work with higher-line aniloxes and, according to the company, eliminate the need for special GCMI colour matches when added strength is required to hit GCMI colour targets. Sun Chemical also states its Advantage HS inks are 40 to 50 percent stronger than most conventional mid-grade GCMI inks.
Sun Chemcial continues to explain how SunVisto Advantage HS inks eliminate the need to control pH during long press runs, whereas most water-based inks will lose pH and ultimately lead to dirty print and ink build-up if not properly monitored.

The new ink set is designed to produce mid-level to high-end graphics with most paper stock, working with both single and multi-colour jobs on standard corrugated linerboards.

Sun Chemical at Labelexpo has launched three new products: Two new UV white inks known as SolarFlex Neutron White and SolarFlex Sleeve High Opacity White, as well as a new range of EtiJet low migration inks by SunJet.

SolarFlex Neutron White is a high opacity UV flexo white ink, which according to the company, outperforms competitors in terms of opacity, printability and gloss. It is designed for the production of labels, tags, sleeves and other narrow web applications.

SolarFlex Sleeve Opacity White allows customers to match opacity with other UV flexo sleeve whites, but at a lower film weight. It is a UV flexo last-down ink intended for reverse printing of shrink sleeves and other impervious substrates where high opacity is required, including wrap-around labels, clear, paper or board substrates and other film applications.

SunJet, Sun Chemical's global inkjet division, will present EtiJet inks for general label products as well as a new low migration ink technology: EtiJet ULM inkjet. The Low migration UV ink technology is Eupia, Swiss Ordinance and Nestlé compliant.

Van Son has announced it will be launching its line of Grand Format inks at Print 13 next month in Chicago. The product will be an alternative to OEM inks from vendors such as VUTEk, Durst, Agfa, and HP.

According to John Sammis, President of Van Son Ink, the line was created “in response to the demand in the marketplace for an economical, high quality alternative to major printer manufacturer’s ink.”

The Grand Format line will cover  LED, UV curable, and Eco-solvent based inks. The company also claims that the inks will “outshine the quality of traditional OEM manufactured inks due to their unique formulations.”

The company says the new inkjet inks will achieve 80 percent of Pantone colours and features a clog-free formula which the company says will save users as much as half a litre of ink per day.
Van Son was founded in Holland in 1872 and has since become a major supplier of ink and pressroom supplies around the world. 

At the ISA Sign Expo in Las Vegas, EFI exhibited six existing machines in its wide-format inkjet portfolio, as well as the company’s first inkjet inks for thermoforming and corrugated-plastic applications. EFI also introduced new 3M MCS warranty-certified inks for VUTEk GS Pro series printers and offered technology demonstrations of its upcoming SmartSign Analytics software.

Hardware and inks
EFI’s line up of wide-format, UV-based inkjet systems at ISA included: VUTEk HS100 Pro; VUTEk QS2 Pro, a 2-meter hybrid printer with variable-drop grayscale and white-ink print capabilities; VUTEk GS2000LX Pro, a LED UV-curing machine with grayscale and white ink; VUTEk GS3250r, a 3.2-metre roll-to-roll printer with 1,000 dpi capabilities; R3225, an entry-level roll-to-roll printer; and the entry-level hybrid H652 printer.

At ISA, EFI provided printed samples of its new thermoforming inks that can be used to produce thermoplastic sheets for forming into custom signs, POP displays, vending/gaming panels and like applications. The process is based on a patented eight-colour ink system, with white-printing capabilities. According to EFI, the thermoforming inks are designed to help users eliminate costs associated with screen printing, hand-painting and vinyl lettering in thermoformed object decoration. The inks can be employed through specially modified versions of EFI's GS Pro models, including the VUTEk GS3250 Pro-TF and GS2000 Pro-TF.
EFI also introduced new inks for corrugated plastic printing. Designed to solve inkjet adhesion problems in applications like yard signs, these inks, according to EFI, are compatible with all brands of white corrugated polypropylene and will run on the VUTEk GS2000 Pro-CP and GS3250 Pro-CP printers.

At the Las Vegas Sign Expo, EFI announced a new VUTEk GS 3M Premium UV inks for its VUTEk GS Pro series printers. These inks carry the 3M MCS Warranty, which covers lifetime issues of graphics like fading, cracking and peeling. Co-branded EFI and 3M inks for the VUTEk GS2000, GS3200, GS3250, GS3250r, GS5000r and EFI R3225 printers all qualify for the warranty, which is also to be made available for the VUTEk GS2000LX and GS3250LX LED UV-curing printers in the near future.

SmartSign Analytics
EFI’s primary product introduction at ISA was SmartSign Analytics (SSA), which is scheduled to enter beta-testing this quarter. The company describes SSA as software that captures and reports analytic data on signage viewership to help marketers measure campaign effectiveness. “Print can drive relevance, revenue and profit in the age of big data, and this technology demonstration can show how that will happen with signage,” stated Mark McGowan, Director of EFI Online Product Solutions.

A single SSA unit includes a Webcam attached to a sign, connected to a computer or tablet running third-party facial recognition software and EFI’s proprietary SSA software for data organization and reporting. In a retail implementation, EFI believes most marketers will likely deploy multiple units to measure, compare and improve signage performance at different stores or at different in-store locations.
The SSA system’s Webcam and software combination detects the presence of people within viewing range and determines which of them are actually looking at a sign. Eye-tracking tools on the SSA system also allow it to calculate how much time is spent viewing signage. Facial pattern algorithms are designed to assign a gender and age range to each viewer.

Continuing in the software category, EFI exhibited its new Version 5 of Fiery XF with Web Control Center digital front end with colour management, as well as its range of Management Information System software like PrintSmith Vision and Pace.

MacDermid Printing Solutions announced the commercial introduction of a new digital flexo plate specifically designed for use with UV inks. Dubbed the UVR plate, it is swell-resistant to aggressive UV inks and has low dot gain.

According to MacDermid, the 55 durometer plate is ideal for the narrow web market where UV is used heavily. UVR plates can be processed with conventional solvents or in MacDermid’s LAVA thermal platemaking system. The plate is also compatible with the company’s LUX platemaking process, which allows for smaller printed dots and more durability on-press. According to the company, the UVR plate also has comparable performance when paired with water-based inks as well.

UVR is commercially available in thicknesses of 0.045 in. (1.14mm)  and 0.067 in (1.70mm), and in format sizes up to 52 x 80 inches (1,321 x 2,032 mm).

The Dutch appellate court at The Hague has confirmed infringement by Chengdu Xingraphics Co. Ltd. of China with regard to Agfa Graphics NV’s key patent on digital printing plates.

The appeals court decided that Agfa’s patent EP823327 is infringed by the sales of Xingraphics’ FIT digital printing plates. The verdict from the court in the Netherlands is consistent with the first instance decision of November 22, 2011, in a parallel procedure before the German Landgericht.

The court has ordered Xingraphics and its Dutch dealer Atécé to refrain from further infringement in the Netherlands and to pay damages, as well as a refund of legal expenses to Agfa Graphics.

“This court decision confirms that we have a strong patent portfolio and that our IP rights are well founded and relevant,” said Stefaan Vanhooren, President of Agfa Graphics. “It signals that we are serious about protecting our know-how against infringements.”

The injunction against further infringement not only applies to the mentioned FIT plates but also to any other positive thermal plates, which use the patented technology.

‘’We are currently discussing patent issues with other competitors and their dealers in order to obtain a fair settlement as compensation for their infringement," said Rudi Goedeweeck, Agfa’s General Manager of Intellectual Property.

Flint Group has launched a new offset UV ink series aimed at the folding carton and commercial printing markets. Known as the Arrowstar Plus UV8000, the inks are designed for high-speed sheetfed operations.

“Arrowstar Plus UV inks are extremely fast-curing, making them a great choice for print jobs that involve direct finishing, backside printing for non-food applications, and more,” said Tyler Newsom, Sheetfed Product Manager. “Their performance and quality are unwavering, even on the most challenging, high-speed presses in the market.”

Flint says the key behind the Arrowstar Plus UV8000 is the unique resin and photoinitiator chemistry, which leads to exception rub-resistance, among other qualities. “Arrowstar Plus UV 8000 inks use the latest raw material technology to push the limits of cure speed and functionality,” said Rodney Balmer, Flint Group’s Director of Global Research & Product Development, Sheetfed.

INX International’s EcoTech TC II sheetfed inks have earned certification from the environmentally focused EcoLogo program. Certified inks include four EcoTech process colours and 13 blending bases.

EcoLogo is a Government of Canada official certification mark and one North America’s longest-standing environmental standards. Founded in 1988, the EcoLogo certification is exclusively managed by TerraChoice of Ottawa, Ontario, which focuses on over 80 product categories.

The newly certified EcoTech TC II sheetfed inks are mineral oil and cobalt drier free. According to INX, the composition of the inks provides for fast start-ups and drying times. The company also states the inks provide strong dot sharpness and press stability in light coverage situations.

INX reports that printers who have used the ink set can foil stamp within 48 to 72 hours after coming off press. EcoTech inks also conform to ISO 2846-1 standards and are suitable for GRACoL G7 certification. 

INX International Ink Co., part of Sakata INX worldwide operations, is described as the third largest producer of inks in North America with over 20 facilities in the U.S. and Canada.

Sun Chemical teamed up with ScentSational Technologies, which develops scented packaging applications, to introduce SunScent coatings as a commercially printable coating line. SunScent allows printers to incorporate scent directly onto the packaging substrate that, according to the developers, stays inactive until consumers handle the package, trigger a release, and experience a product's aroma.

Available for flexo, gravure and offset coating units, SunScent coatings can be applied directly onto packaging as a spot coating and done in-line. Stock scents are available for SunScent coatings, but custom "Signature Scents" can be developed for brands that want a unique scent associated with their product. SunScent coatings are available in food grade flavours, as well as fragrances.
Unlike traditional scratch and sniff labels, according to Sun Chemical, the desired scent is applied directly onto the primary packaging, including flexible packaging pouches and other tamper-resistant packages that consumers cannot open on the grocery shelf. The structure of micro-encapsulates in the coatings are designed to prevent premature breakage during the printing process while delivering scent release.

“A product's scent or aroma can create anticipation and desire in the minds of consumers. If it smells good, they are confident it will taste good, or perform well, and they are more likely to purchase the product,” stated Bob Lorenz, Vice President of Business Development at Sun Chemical. “It comes as no surprise that the sense of smell is a differentiator that many brand owners would like to take advantage of. The challenge however, is intriguing customers with the scent while ensuring the packaging is tamper-resistant. SunScent coatings print the scented coating directly onto the package itself so the scent can be released by simply handling the product, rather than scratching.”

At Graph Expo this week, Agfa announced a new addition to its :Energy plate line. The new :Energy Xtra is a positive working thermal plate that offers runs up to 600,000 impressions without baking and longer when baked. The company calls the :Energy Xtra a highly-durable, all-purpose plate. That plate does not require pre-heat or post-baking, which reduces plate-making time and energy.

"The new :Energy Xtra is an example of Agfa Graphics' continued effort to respond to customer needs and to bring new and innovative solutions to market," said Tim Van den Bossche, Vice President Global Marketing and Strategy at Agfa Graphics. "For those printers with very particular press conditions and long runs, our no-bake solution truly simplifies plate-making and offers a more sustainable solution, an important advantage over other plates that require baking." 

The plate can print 1-99% dot at 200 lpi AM, 20 micron FM and :Sublima 200 lpi XM screening. The :Energy Xtra will be available in early 2013.

During Label Expo Americas, which begins next week in Chicago, Durst is unveiling what it refers to as “digital foil” UV ink for metallic label and packaging applications.  

This ink introduction, which is also presented by Durst as the world’s first solvent-free silver UV ink, coincides with the Label Expo launch of Durst’s new Tau 330 UV inkjet label press. The metallic silver UV ink can be used with the Tau 330 and also with previous models like the Tau 150-8C.

According to Durst, the advantage of its new metallic ink is seen in the ability to lay down – in one pass – a “digital foil” that meets all the demands of metallic label applications. “We see our successful development of Durst Metallic Silver UV Ink as a real game changer,” said Helmuth Munter, Worldwide Manager of Durst’s Label Printing Division.

The Tau UV inkjet label presses reach speeds of 65 to 95 linear feet (20 to 30 linear meters) per minute.

Sun Chemical is launching SunLit Crystal as a universal sheetfed offset process ink set. Described by the company as an “all-in-one ink solution,” SunLit Crystal is based on a high proportion of renewable raw materials.

As a vegetable oil-based printing ink, SunLit Crystal can be used on straight or perfecting presses of all sizes. Sun Chemical describes the ink product as an ideal solution for plants where one or more presses are supplied from a pumping station.

"Customers who work with electronic media are used to high quality and vivid images and SunLit Crystal can help replicate this quality in printed material to compete with all forms of media,” said Dr. Bernhard Fritz, Product Manager Sheetfed Systems Europe, Sun Chemical.

SunLit Crystal is also fully aligned with the measures of print standardization (ISO 12647:2), which the company describes as a major benefit for print buyers and international organizations.

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