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Kern Druck utilizes KODAK PROSPER S10 for direct mail

Press release from the issuing company

Stuttgart, Germany – German full print services provider, Kern Druck GmbH, has invested in three new KODAK PROSPER S10 Imprinting Systems. The Bexbach-based company has installed the machines in a unique configuration, enabling it to automate its workflow processes and streamline its direct mail production.

Kern has a long tradition producing top-quality, complex commercial collateral in sheetfed offset, frequently featuring spot inks and special coatings. The company has 35 staff and a branch just across the border in Sarreguemines, France. About a decade ago, the company decided to extend its portfolio by producing direct marketing and mailers.

Personalized mailers for demanding clients
Today Kern prints direct mail and self-mailers for major cosmetics retail chains, consumer goods manufacturers, tour operators and insurance companies, typically in runs from 10,000 up to one million: "It was our mailer business that originally stirred our interest in hybrid printing," says André Kern, joint Managing Director. "Output is produced in sheetfed offset on five, six, and eight-color presses-mainly in 3B format-before imprinting the variable data digitally in one color."

After trying out simple inkjet printheads, the company switched to laser printers because of its customers' exacting quality specifications. "We were forever thinking about how we could meet the exemplary standards demanded by our clients using a more affordable inkjet system," continues Kern. "We wanted to completely re-launch the mailer side of our operation with an end-to-end solution that would give us maximum flexibility regarding formats and paper types. The PROSPER S10 Imprinting Systems fit perfectly with this concept."

The KODAK PROSPER S10 Imprinting System is the first product to implement KODAK Stream Inkjet Technology, and was launched in 2009 as a monochrome imprinting system for delivering offset-class variable data applications at up to 1000 fpm / 305 mpm. Each printhead is designed for an imprint width of 105.6 mm. The PROSPER S10 System uses pigment-based inks with micro-milled pigments, and has a resolution of 600 x 600 dpi.

The system's ability to handle a wide variety of uncoated, coated and glossy substrates was an important consideration for Kern. The company's variable imprinting and personalization applications call for diverse materials-from 60 g NCR paper through 80 g/m² offset paper to matte-coated art paper weighing 250 g/m²: "At high printing speeds, the inkjet quality on all of these materials is at least as good as laser-crucially, however, the costs for inks and operation are much lower," reports Kern.

Imprinting solution in a unique configuration
In a joint engineering venture involving Popp Maschinenbau, Heidelberg, and Kodak, a unique imprinting and finishing system was installed at Kern, enabling variable data to be imprinted on preprinted color offset sheets. The system handles sheets up to 700 x 1000mm in size and supports two-sided variable data printing with the KODAK PROSPER S10 Imprinting Systems.

A HEIDELBERG folder/continuous feeder feeds the sheets to the first Popp vacuum drive table, on which two PROSPER S10 Imprinting Systems are mounted side by side. The sheets are printed continuously at high speed, and dried using an IR dryer before being transferred to a second perpendicular vacuum drive table via a sheet turning unit. Before the reverse side is printed with the third PROSPER S10, a camera barcode reader checks the content to ensure it matches the variable data printed on the front. The printed sheets can either be supplied to a delivery or finished directly in-line in folding machines. If required, Kern can also mount all three PROSPER S10 Systems on one table and print variable data on just one side of the sheet across a width of more than 316 mm.

Top quality and flexibility for direct mailers and more
"The KODAK Inkjet Imprinting Systems combine laser quality with low costs per print, regardless of the substrate," adds Kern. "They also give us the flexibility we've always longed for in terms of format, materials and options for use, allowing us to meet even the most unusual customer requirements."

The advantages of the PROSPER S10 Systems are not restricted to mailers. Kern anticipates using the machines for other applications, such as variable editorial content for customer magazines.