Kodak acquires ECRM’s CtP biz

Pioneering imaging company taken over in the pandemic

ECRM Computer to Plate output device (CtP)

On 19 April 2020, Eastman Kodak announced its acquisition of the assets of ECRM Incorporated’s CtP (computer-to-plate) device business for the graphic arts and newspaper industries. Based in Massachusetts, ECRM was a global leader in imaging technologies for the graphic communications industry. The transaction includes the equipment, contracts, inventory, and intellectual property of the acquired business. The financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Kodak offers a portfolio of traditional and digital solutions that help printers, including thermal CtPs and thermal offset plates, which it pioneered. It develops and sells prepress and workflow software and digital presses – both drum and toner and continuous inkjet for commercial and packaging applications. Its CIJ flexible packaging presses are developed in collaboration with Uteco. The acquisition will strengthen Kodak’s position in the CtP segment of the commercial and newspaper printing industry. ECRM was a formidable manufacturer of violet laser CtPs preferred by some Indian language newspapers because of their speed and simplicity of operation.

An imaging company from the start, ECRM was founded just north of Boston by the legendary American engineer William Schreiber while he was a professor at MIT. Schreiber was also a visiting professor at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur from 1964 to 1966. He motivated the first generation of Indian engineers and students to develop the software and hardware for implementing Indian scripts using computers.

“This acquisition reflects Kodak’s commitment to the printing industry and our focus on investing in growth,” said Jim Continenza, Kodak’s Executive Chairman and CEO. “Acquiring these assets of an impressive company like ECRM makes us an even stronger player in the CtP category, and we will continue to look for ways to better serve customers across the spectrum of traditional and digital print.”

“In the wake of a challenging pandemic year, and on the anniversary of ECRM’s 50th year, we decided that this is a good time to rest on our past successes, yet protect and service our many long-term customers with an established company of appropriate size, CtP competence, and resources. We are pleased today to place our company assets with Kodak,” said Rick Black, chairman, and CEO of ECRM.

Kodak has had a few rocky years and a couple of years ago it was compelled to divest its flexographic plate business to Miraclon. Kodak was one of the earliest investors in China and in the past few years, both Kodak and ECRM have manufactured their CtP output devices there. Kodak products, including its environmentally friendly no-process Sonora plates, are distributed in India by Kodak India and its channel partners.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital 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.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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– Naresh Khanna

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