There’s digital and there is digital. The Uteco and Kodak’s flexible hybrid is on the way

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Speed 300 m/min, food compliance (indirect contact) waterbased inks, better profitability both on short runs as well as medium and high job lots, with an ideal balance of around 20 thousand square meters. Uteco and Kodak present the Sapphire Evo flexo-digital hybrid to the press, which will be officially launched during the Innovation Alliance. And it already has a Campania based buyer.

The presentation to the international media, on April 18 at the Uteco R&D Technologial Cener Conver- Drome®, featured the presence of European and American print experts and the leading lights of the two companies that developed the project: Uteco, represented by the CEO Aldo Peretti and by Ing. Mario Gazzani (Digital Printing Division Manager) plus Ing. Dario Camorani (Mechanical Engineering Department) and Kodak who fielded Ing Riccardo Passerini, Sales Director Mediterranean & Balkans Regions, e nothing less than the Director WW Sales Operations & Marketing, Susan Cardot, directly from the USA in the company of a well-known US consultant and publicist. This is not surprising, given the stakes: the conquest of shares on the digital front for Kodak, which with this machine and this ally can breach the still relatively virgin flexible packaging market (but Sapphire also serves labeling) and above all reach the new universe of flexo printers. The same goes for Uteco, which occupies a strategic place among flexo printers and in recent years has worked hard to complete its digital offer, where it is certainly interesting to work with a partner with advanced skills in inkjet. And if the marriage of interest among suppliers appears well conceived, not for this does the machine user – the packaging printer and the supply chain to follow – lose out, rather to the contrary: Uteco and Kodak have implemented a solution potentially capable of disrupting the current market equilibrium, fielding a speed and productivity hitherto unseen, lowering costs and raising the performance of a process of which, sooner or later, nobody will be able to do without.

300 meters per minute, with waterbased inks

When the Sapphire Evo was presented at the last drupa 2016 in prototype form at the Kodak booth, its speed caused a sensation: at 600 dpi and on paper it reaches 300 m/min which, obviously, decreases on plastic supports and with higher resolutions. After the subsequent fine tuning, it now comes in a “definitive” version with 4 color units – which will soon become 5 – preceded by the pre-treatment and primer roto station followed by the in-line flexo coating unit. With this customisable configuration and the Kodak Stream technology inkjet imaging system, the machine can print ± 97% of the Pantone pallet. Using waterbased inks that comply with all European (including Swiss) and US regulations on indirect food contact. This is a very important prerogative, not only because the food sector (but also the cosmo-pharma sector for example) calls for safety and health, but also because the use of food-compliant consumables enables the simplification of the packs, avoiding expensive layers and barrier effects that are difficult to work.

The versatility that opens many doors

Sapphire Evo has a web width of 650 mm (print width 622), and works a wide variety of cellulose and polyolefin based media (including metalized products and laminates), and adopts the effective Uteco air drying system with the drum cooled in contact with the substrate to maintain its stability, avoiding curling and facilitating wet on wet printing The first converter to buy it is the dynamic and creative Nuova Erreplast: the flexo-oriented Campania based company, which opens to digital, not only to respond to requests for short-run jobs, but also to inaugurate new lines of business and open up to new markets. In this issue the interview with CEO Mimmo Raccioppoli.

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