Royal Printers, a commercial offset printer based out of Karaikudi in Sivaganga, Tamil Nadu, has invested in a new Kodak Achieve T400 CTP machine bundled with Sonora X process-free plates to handle its day-to-day tasks quickly and efficiently.
Initially started as a greeting cards printing business in 2010 under the name Royal Cards, the company was rebranded as Royal Printers in 2019 to diversify its print business to different verticals such as business cards, envelopes, stationery, brochures, catalogues, and point-of-sale and packaging materials. The company procured a host of used machines from the US to cater to its newfound business. It also purchased new creasing and lamination machines.
The investments included a Komori Lithrone 528 offset printer, a Polar 135 cutting machine, a two-colour Ryobi 3202 offset press, an Agfa kit, and machines for folding, perfect binding, and centre pinning. However, the Agfa kit has now been replaced with the Kodak Achieve T400 in September 2020.
Arockia Doss, managing director of Royal Printers, says that there were no established printers closer to Karaikudi, and most of the jobs were outsourced. So, the business expansion idea proved to be a success, until the lockdown kicked in March 2020.
Royal Printers employs around 20 staff members in a single-shift operation, who take care of the pre-press, printing and post-press operations at the company. “From designing to die-cutting, we do all jobs including packaging jobs. We print invitation cards, medical files, textile boxes and more,” says Doss.
The Kodak advantage
So what benefits do Sonora plates offer? “It’s the running cost and time. The Sonora plates are process-free, hence we save on the processing unit cost, as well as the running cost on the processing unit, and time,” says Doss, who finds it “very easy to use”.
He adds, “Earlier, we had to source plates from Madurai, which used to take roughly five hours to reach us. Things got delayed. And we had to pay transportation charges as well. It was becoming very expensive,” he adds. “With Kodak, that’s not the case. Plates are received immediately. After-sales support is also very good.”
Doss says the Kodak CTP has been working very fine and there has been a significant improvement in downtime and productivity. However, he adds that due to the ongoing pandemic situation, the company currently is seeing a fewer number of jobs and hence the machine has not been able to run at its full potential, but “we are very much certain that things will improve and we will see an increase in the jobs in coming months.”
“Considering the running cost, Kodak is better than other machines. Added to that, as the Sonora plates are process-free, we can cut on processor charges,” says Doss.
Launched in 2013 in India, the Kodak Achieve T400 platesetter uses Kodak’s thermal CTP technology. Its external-drum thermal CTP device has been specifically designed for general commercial and publication printers. The machine comes with a small footprint and offers plate making of up to 22 eight-page plates per hour.
Additionally, the Achieve T400 platesetter is available with a variety of automation options to meet a wide range of business needs. In addition to being fully compatible with Sonora plates with throughputs of up to 28 four-page plates per hour, the Achieve platesetter has a new cooling system that reduces power consumption to only 400 watts while imaging, savings of up to 43% from previous models and up to 95% compared to other CTP devices.
The Achieve platesetters feature Kodak’s light valve technology in its TH5 thermal head, which is said to deliver higher quality than the Gaussian technology used in other vendors’ CTP devices. The TH5 head images a more precise, accurate dot, leading to higher tonal stability and exposure uniformity, according to Kodak.
Additionally, it comes with the Sonora X process-free plates, which can be taken straight from the platesetter to the press, with no processing step in between. This results in omitting processing costs and waste, freeing up floorspace and eliminating the processing variability that can waste time and money in the pressroom.
According to Kodak, Sonora X plates can replace unbaked wet-processed plates in most applications, with run lengths of up to 4,00,000 impressions on web presses; 2,00,000 impressions on sheetfed presses; and even up to 75,000 impressions for UV-ink applications.
Doss says that his business did not run as expected because of the lockdown. “There were lots of losses due to the Covid crisis. This year it’s the same story,” he says.
Explaining his struggles during the lockdown, Doss says: “The press ran roughly for one year, and profits were very little due to the pandemic. The business was picking up once the unlock process began but now it is back to square one. There is more loss. Only when the press runs in full swing, we would be able to analyse our capability in terms of growth. New and direct customers are very few because of the lockdown. Most of our customers are small presses from 120-km radius. We were getting textile jobs, but the second wave hit our business again.”
As Royal Printers was not functional for a year, the actual turnover could not be assessed. “However, we had a turnover of Rs 20 lakhs per month. The profits are less, we are quoting cheap rates to sustain our business,” says Doss.
He says, with fewer job rejections, the new machine’s print production and accuracy has been good. However, he suggests that regular preventive maintenance can keep the engine in good condition.
The investment was planned before the pandemic. However, amid the challenges, Kodak installed the machine during the pandemic and calibrated the Sonora X process-free plates, which Royal Printers has been using since then.
Specifications of Kodak Achieve T400
- Technology: 830 nm platesetter with thermal light valve TH5 imaging technology, external drum
- Speed: 22 plates per hour
- Resolution: 2,400 dpi or 1,200 dpi
- Screening: 200 lpi max line screen
- Maximum plate size: 838 x 990 mm