Page 24 - Print 21 Magazine March-April 2019
P. 24

Process-free Plates
require an extra piece of equipment, the clean out unit, even though there is no traditional plate processor. Apart from the capital costs there may also be installation and training costs as well as additional plumbing and electrical work.
And every piece of equipment is prone to the occasional breakdown. The frustrations of having a press stand idle while a processor is repaired can be well imagined. Eliminating the processing equipment removes one element of risk that could affect production when there are issues.
In Australia the ongoing impact of drought lends an ever more critical aspect to eliminating plate processing. Even ‘chemistry free’ plates still require water for regular
“Sonora X is delivering everything we promised. ... By the end of this year 40 per cent of my volumes in the Australian market will be process free.”
– Rob Mollee
cleaning. Only process free can eliminate the use of water in the production of printing plates.
It also gets rid of one of the most annoying and disruptive aspects
of plate processing: the variability that arises from such aspects as the age of the chemistry, temperature variations, replenishment errors, and maladjusted or contaminated rollers. All this can all affect the finished plate, with variations or defects perhaps not evident until after the plate is put on press.
Winning the war
The savings that are gained in moving to Kodak Sonora Process Free plates only make sense when the end result justifies the change. Mollee maintains that in the past 18 months the local industry
has embraced Sonora across the broadest range of sectors, following developments that now allow the process free plates to be used by up to 80 per cent of offset printers.
“Sonora X is delivering everything we promised. It’s a versatile,
robust plate that more than meets expectations. Run lengths have exceeded what we hoped and the quality and reliability is without compare. By the end of this year
24  Print21 MARCH/APRIL 2019
Left: Robust: With Kodak ANZ new sales director Rob Mollee is Kodak regional vice president Komal Sharma (left), in Australia to visit printers to share the benefits of the new Sonora X. Australian printers have taken to Sonora with gusto — around the world a third of Kodak plates are now Sonora, here it is even higher. Sharma
forty per cent of my volumes in the Australian market will be process free,” he said.
Kodak has been delivering process free plates since the early days of 2005 when Thermal Direct came onto the market. In those days
the plates had limitations that prevented certain printers from taking advantage of their cost and environmental benefits. Limited run length capabilities, slow imaging speeds, and other features restricted the use of process free plates to smaller printers and those that were printing only certain applications.
This is now the fifth incarnation of the product with all the development that has gone down.
In 2012, Kodak succeeded in overcoming the technical hurdles that limited them to certain markets, introducing a process free plate with features comparable to mainstream processed plates—Sonora XP.
Solving the technical
The first challenge in creating a process free plate was developing a plate coating that could be removed on press with no detrimental press contamination. Kodak solved
this with the first generation of Thermal Direct. Using existing press conditions, it was able to develop a coating on the plate that successfully cleans out as part of the start-up process and then performs on press like any other plate.
The second challenge was to modify this coating to address the needs of a wider variety of printers printing more applications. Kodak needed to develop a plate that could image at faster speeds, print longer runs under various conditions, and handle higher resolution print jobs. It also wanted to improve the image
contrast on the plate to make the plate more operator-friendly.
With the coating on the Kodak Sonora Process Free Plates and Kodak Sonora News Process Free Plates
for newspapers, Kodak was able to overcome these hurdles as well, and demand for the plate skyrocketed.
In 2017, the R&D team at Kodak achieved a technology breakthrough that brought the plate’s capabilities up to the level of unbaked processed plates. Kodak Sonora Process Free Plates offer fast imaging speeds with laser energy of 120mJ/cm2 on platesetters with Kodak Squarespot Imaging Technology. Printers in most cases can take advantage of the maximum throughput capability of their platesetter.
The plate is capable of run lengths up to 400,000 impressions on heatset and commercial coldset web presses, up to 200,000 impressions on sheetfed presses, up to 100,000 impressions for non-UV offset packaging applications, and up
to 75,000 impressions for UV-ink applications, including low-energy UV. The plates also offer high-quality 20-micron FM screening capability on platesetters with Squarespot Technology and AM screening of 1-99 per cent at 200 lpi.
The Sonora Plate is changing
the way printers regard process
free plates. The quality and robust performance when combined with the environmental considerations are firing a revolution throughout the industry. And then there are the compelling economics.
“I can promise, with the elimination of wet processing, an average savings of between forty to fifty cents per square metre across the board for printers making the switch to Kodak Sonora Process Free Plates. It is a true watershed moment for the industry, “said Mollee. 21
says, “Australia’s commitment
to the environment is one of the drivers for Sonora process free, no processing means no water or power.” Sharma said much of the Kodak R+D into plates was going into Sonora, and that has seen the run length capability increase.

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