Kodak Expands Process-free Plate Plant
There was plenty of excitement at Kodak’s plate manufacturing facility as Kodak executives, community leaders, customers, and media gathered for a ribbon cutting ceremony here to celebrate the company’s $28 million expansion of a new manufacturing line for the production of Sonora Process Free Plates.
The 48,000-square-foot expansion at the Columbus facility brings one of Kodak's fastest growing product lines, Sonora Process Free Plates, to the U.S. for the first time, and the manufacturing facility will serve as the primary source for Sonora Process Free Plates sold in the Americas.
Kodak CEO Jeff Clarke delivered the opening speech highlighting the significant growth that Kodak has seen with the Sonora Process Free Plates, and how this, along with Kodak’s other portfolio of solutions, can benefit the printing industry in terms of reducing its carbon footprint.
"Today’s opening of this new manufacturing line keeps us on an accelerated pace toward our goal of helping printers become more sustainable with Sonora Process Free Plates," said Clarke. "Kodak is committed to providing solutions that increase the sustainability of the printing industry, while also reducing printing costs. This is good business and good for our environment."
Brad Kruchten, Kodak’s president, Print Systems Division and senior vice president, then took the stage, expressing tremendous enthusiasm for the expansion and what it means for the company. "The completion of this new line has been a long time coming. We started this project four years ago [The groundbreaking was on April 24, 2014] and completed it last year. The Columbus facility now has three lines."
Following additional speeches from other state and local community leaders, attendees had the opportunity to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the new Sonora plate manufacturing line, which is 750 feet long, the equivalent of 2.5 football fields. The height of the unwind towers is equivalent to a three-story building. And, depending on the roll size, a roll of aluminum can weigh up to 10,000 lbs.
Click on the YouTube video below to watch a short video on the ribbon cutting ceremony and tour:
What makes Kodak’s Sonora Process Free Plates different than traditional printing plates used in offset printing, is that they use newer technology to skip the chemical processing step completely. Kruchten noted that the most highly recycled product in the world is aluminum plates—more so than cans or paper. Once Sonora Plates are imaged on the platesetter, they are "press ready" and can be put on press immediately for printing. Skipping the processing step saves water and energy, removes chemicals and waste, and reduces the overall carbon footprint of printing.
The digital plates also provide printers with the speed, quality, and durability of traditional processed plates—most printers can switch plates with no negative impact to their business.
The Columbus location has maintained a strong presence in its community for 20 years. The manufacturing facility employs 225 workers. At maximum capacity, it will employ 240 people.
Kodak’s Columbus facility was recently honored with two awards for its environmentally conscious efforts from the Georgia Association of Water Professionals for the 2014 calendar year—an award for "Exceptional Achievement in Water Pollution Prevention/Waste Minimization;" and an award for the "Outstanding Operation of an Industrial Waste Pretreatment Facility."
Today, more than 2,700 Kodak customers worldwide use Sonora Process Free Plates to produce a variety of printed products, including commercial print, books, newspapers and packaging. According to Kodak, if all the printers in the United States were to switch from traditional, processed printing plates to Kodak Sonora Process Free Plates, the printing industry could see significant savings on the following every year: 363 KWH of energy, 237 million gallons of water, and 1.6 million gallons of plate developer.
"Our vision is to lead the printing industry to a more sustainable future, and the use of Sonora Process Free Plates really reinforces this vision," Kruchten concludes. Despite the misconception that digital is more environmentally friendly than print, Kruchten adds the company remains firm on “showing the world that printing is very sustainable."