Kodak sees strong growth in process free plates segment in India

New Sonora Xtra plates launched recently

Kodak process free plates

Kodak is seeing a strong 50% year on year growth in volumes of process-free plates in India. The company expects to continue the same momentum over the next two to three years, as customers are seeing the key features and benefits of process free plates in the print industry. Recently, Kodak announced a new plate that it says will further the print industry’s adoption of process free technology. The new plate, Kodak Sonora Xtra significantly boosts the performance of Kodak’s process-free plate technology. Sonora Xtra makes process free an attractive option for printers in search of a plate that can reduce costs in both prepress and the pressroom without compromising print quality or productivity.

With the new plate, printers can get higher speed platemaking, on press 20% faster than existing Sonora X; enhanced machine readability; lower cost of ownership both in prepress and on press; and savings in the pressroom.

Available by year-end

As with the rest of the world, Sonora Xtra plates will be available in India by the end of 2020. Target customers of Kodak are any offset printers that do not require a baked plate. According to the company, Sonora Xtra plates are ideal for any size printer, printing on both sheetfed or web presses, including printers using low-energy UV.

Nexfinity toner based digital press

In 2018, Kodak launched the Nexfinity toner based digital press. The company has seen huge interest around the world with the press, providing output quality that rivals offset across an unmatched variety of job types: commercial print, direct mail, publishing, photo products, packaging and other high-margin applications.


This year, Kodak announced the launch of the Prosper Ultra 520 press which delivers offset-like quality at a consistent production speed of 150 mpm/500 FPM on glossy papers with high ink coverage and variable print — all at the industry’s lowest cost of operation.

The new press is the first Kodak-manufactured press using Kodak’s revolutionary Ultrastream writing system, which employs high-precision placement of smaller, perfectly round, satellite-free drops to produce the highest inkjet image quality available in the marketplace today.

The company believes the Prosper Ultra 520 press will be well received by Indian book printers and printers of data-rich or variable documents. Kodak has started taking orders for the press with shipments planned following beta testing at the end of the year.

Working during the lockdown

India went in for a lockdown on 24 March to stop the spread of Covid-19. Just like most other companies Kodak India too had to see disruptions in operations. However, the company used this time to train its sales teams and continued to perfect its latest technologies. Though Kodak India’s teams were working from home, they were in regular touch with all customers as well as channel partners.

Even though the company has seen some slowdown due to lockdown, it is very optimistic about the future in India. Kodak India is already seeing some recovery since lockdown has been gradually relaxed. It is geared up to support the recovery in the market.

Not providing guidance

Due to uncertain market conditions globally, Kodak is not providing any guidance. Cash was flat for 2019 and this was after the proceeds from the FPD sale were used to repay their first lien term loans.

The company is focused on generating cash as soon as possible and expect that 2020 will be a difficult year but will position the company to execute on that goal once the economy recovers. Kodak, however, cannot predict when that will occur.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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