Kodak and Uteco launch Sapphire Evo digital press

Uteco has announced a new hybrid digital press, the Sapphire Evo, aimed at packaging converters and using Kodak’s Stream inkjet technology. It was first shown as a technology demonstration back at Drupa 2016 and is now commercially available.

Uteco and Kodak have worked together to develop this Sapphire Eco inkjet press using the Stream technology.

It’s a hybrid solution that can be configured with inline flexo or gravure with an option for in register reprint. It’s aimed at high volume production and can produce over 150 mpm. It’s a CMYK press, using Kodak water-based inks and pre-coating fluids with options for in-line priming and varnishing. It uses hot air for drying and can be fitted with infrared heaters.

It takes media up to 650mm wide, printing up to 622mm wide, which is not particularly wide for a packaging press and will limit the likely applications. However, it prints to various flexible substrates, including BOPP, PET and paper. It complies with European and US regulations for indirect food contact, as well as brand specific requirements and the EuPIA exclusion list.

Aldo Peretti, CEO of the Uteco Group, comments: “Our customers have been asking for a digital production solution that meets their customer demand for more versions, which is driving shorter run lengths, as well as an economic long-run digital solution. Uteco’s rich experience in flexo and gravure printing, film handling, coating and drying, coupled with Kodak’s inkjet expertise, now allows us to deliver a device that combines the capabilities of flexo with digital.”

Stefano Russo, COO of the Uteco Group, adds: “As the demand for mass versioning and customization of packaging grows globally, hybrid flexo, gravure and digital printing is becoming a very important part of packaging providers’ offerings. The combination of Uteco and Kodak’s technologies not only delivers a competitive option for digital short-run printing, but also competes in medium-long print runs. This makes the Sapphire EVO an ideal investment for both label and packaging print service providers.”

The first of these presses is due to be installed in June at an Italian converter producing flexible packaging for the industrial and fashion industries.

This is a very significant development, given that just about everyone currently developing inkjet presses is wondering how to get water-based inkjet inks to stick to flexible film substrates at high-speed. It’s worth noting that Kodak has not talked about the resolution but that the demonstration at Drupa was printing in 600dpi resolution, where most packaging applications really need 1200 dpi. Also, this is a CMYK press though packaging generally requires eight colours –white plus orange, green and violet for extended colour gamuts to cope with the use of spot colours. So, it remains to be seen how good the image quality is at high speed but the fact that Uteco is confident enough to start taking orders suggests that Kodak has taken a major step forward here.


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