Interview with Kodak’s Chris Balls

General Manager of Equipment & Service and Vice President of Print Systems Division, Eastman Kodak Company

We spoke to Kodak’s Chris Balls on what’s new with Kodak’s CTP offering – the latest features and enhancements.

As you travel the country meeting with printers, what are they telling you about today’s operating environment?

One of the most common conversations I have with our customers and prospects is about building more flexibility and productivity in their operations. It’s an extremely competitive environment out there. Printers are looking to invest in technology that will help them expand the range of applications they can offer to their customers. However, at the same time, they are concerned about keeping their costs down and productivity high. More and more shops are competing for business that demands shorter run lengths with fast turnaround times, which means to stay profitable, they must aggregate as many short-run jobs as they can and get them through their workflow quickly.

What are printers doing to ensure they are set up to compete in this environment?

First, the role of prepress continues to be an ever more critical role. As run lengths get shorter and there is a growing demand for versioning and personalization of printed materials, the number of jobs running through the plant is increasing. As a result, prepress departments have looked for ways to streamline and automate processes to handle larger volumes of work. Also, once the job is ready, printers are looking for speed and automation from their plate making and onto the press. It’s an area Kodak has focused a lot on recently with our portfolio of CTP devices. We’ve continued to invest, especially over the past several years, in creating more choices and options to enhance our customers’ ability to deliver quality, flexibility, speed, and automation.

How does CTP automation benefit printers?

Twenty years ago, Kodak was the first to introduce affordable and simple automation for CTP into the print industry, with the Auto Loader option for our KODAK TRENDSETTER Platesetters.

Since then, Kodak has been leading the charge in developing the most affordable and easy to use automation functions for printers. Building more automation into Kodak CTPs, like our KODAK ACHIEVE and TRENDSETTER Platesetters, offers several benefits to printers.  For example, the new Multi-Cassette Unit provides automated plate loading and unloading of up to 480 plates. This feature increases the printer’s productivity by maximizing their speed to press, and by reducing manual handling, there is less waste, and plates sent to the press room are more consistent without the variability of plate handling errors.

How is Kodak continuing to innovate for CTP?

Kodak is still one of the few major CTP manufacturer still investing in CTP technology. We make the only CTP Systems that utilize KODAK SQUARESPOT Imaging Technology, giving customers the competitive advantage needed to reach a higher level of stability, accuracy and reliability within their operation. We continue to roll out new features, improvements, and new devices.  For example, Kodak recently introduced the Mobile CTP Control App, which lets printers monitor and control up to 10 CTP devices from wherever they are.

Many printers in the industry today are still using platesetters they installed five or even ten years ago. The reason is that they are working well now, so why spend the money to upgrade to newer technology?

We talk to many printers about this dilemma, especially those that are not experiencing any noticeable issues with their older CTP machines. It’s important to understand that upgrading to a new CTP device is a quick and cost-effective way for a printer to become more productive, efficient and ultimately more competitive. Not only do new platesetters come with updated software, hardware, and basic components, which reduce service and repair costs, reduce the security risks of running an old operating system, and prevent failure at an inconvenient time, Kodak’s newer models offer significant power savings, in addition to the speed and automation benefits. As one of the few major CTP manufacturer still investing in CTP technology, our focus has been to create technology that ensures printers are as competitive as possible. Kodak’s newest models with MCUs use up to 80% less power than other MCU solutions. While imaging, the KODAK TRENDSETTER Platesetter uses only 770 watts, and the KODAK ACHIEVE Platesetter uses only 400 watts.

 Of course, imaging stability and accuracy are critical for attracting new business with high-quality print or unique features such as lenticular or security printing. Kodak’s SQUARESPOT Imaging Technology delivers the most precise and stable imaging in the industry. We also see many printers choosing to pair their CTP devices with the KODAK SONORA Process Free Plate technology, which completely removes the need for plate processing, adding yet another way for printers to increase their productivity while reducing costs.

As the inventors of thermal technology, Kodak is dedicated to continuing to invest in new features and innovations that will help offset printers grow their business profitability into the future.

Kodak, Trendsetter, Achieve, Squarespot and Sonora are trademarks of Kodak.

© Kodak, 2018