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Kodak and technology partner Uteco Group have sold a second Sapphire Evo hybrid press, this time to a Japanese printing business, Kinyosha.

The deal was agreed recently, according to Uteco president and chief executive Aldo Peretti, and installation is scheduled for dispatch in autumn and is expected to be up and running in October. The Kinyosha site will become a technology centre for Asia.

The first commercial customer is Italian packaging printer and convertor Nuova Erreplast (NE), based in Naples, although the press, which was sold in summer last year, has not yet been installed at the NE site.

It is currently being run at Uteco’s ‘ConverDrome’ at the manufacturer’s base outside Verona, but is expected to be moved to the NE site in March.

The press is being used for demonstrations by Uteco and Kodak. NE expects to have enough work to keep the press running for 10 hours per day by the installation.

The latest sale means there will be three Sapphire Evos in operation around the world, with the first machine running at Kodak’s facility in Dayton, Ohio, US.

The press is targeted at the label and flexible packaging market. It was first shown at Drupa 2016 and is intended to compete with offset technologies in terms of speed and quality while maintaining the versatility of digital technology.

The Sapphire Evo has a 650mm web width, with a 622mm print width and 2,530mm repeat length. Speed is 300m/min and the press is targeted at users producing up to 20m/sqm per annum.

It can print onto a wide range of plastic films as well paper. The configuration is bespoke, and can include flexo and gravure printing units, additional spot colours and inline lamination, as well as the Kodak Stream continuous inkjet heads.

Kodak and Uteco are remaining tight-lipped at the moment in terms of the price of the press, but claim a low total cost of ownership.

Aldo Peretti, CEO of the Uteco Group, said: “Our customers are looking for sustainably advantaged hybrid digital production solutions to enable short run versioning with compelling economics. Utilizing the combination of traditional flexo and gravure, along with digital inkjet technologies, these solutions optimize film handling, priming, post-coating and drying to deliver the performance requirements for the packaging market.  Kodak’s proprietary continuous inkjet system continues to be technology of choice which delivers great quality, productivity and running cost for these industry-leading packaging solutions.”

Randy Vandagriff, president enterprise inkjet systems division, Kodak, commented: “We are pleased that Uteco continues to partner with Kodak as we develop solutions for the packaging market.  The unique benefits offered by the SAPPHIRE EVO Solution will showcase how KODAK Stream Inkjet Technology is addressing the use of digital printing for flexible packaging solutions.  As we look ahead to drupa 2020 and beyond, we are excited that Uteco will be including ULTRASTREAM Technology based solutions in its product portfolio to deliver even more flexible packaging options for both converters and brands.  Uteco’s proactive approach to driving change in the package printing market reflects the requirement for unique solutions around the world.”