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Breaking new ground for flexo: Growth fueled by differentiated technology drives manufacturing expansion


It’s a big day in Weatherford, Oklahoma as Kodak CEO, Jeff Clarke, and Governor of Oklahoma, Mary Fallin, cut the ribbons that signify the official commencement of construction for a new Kodak flexo plate manufacturing line.

Scheduled to be in full production by early 2019, when it will produce KODAK FLEXCEL NX Plates for packaging printers and prepress providers in North and South America, the major capital investment, which totals over $15 million, is driven by Kodak’s rapid growth in this segment of the package printing industry.

Since the introduction of the KODAK FLEXCEL NX System in 2008, Kodak technology has been changing the face of flexo printing and driving growth for customers and the flexo industry with digital flexo plate technology that has brought the highest quality, consistency and efficiency to a long-established but previously somewhat under-performing, print process.

Joining the celebration were some of Kodak’s pioneering FLEXCEL NX customers, including Ben Abray, President of Autumn Graphics, a London, Ontario-headquartered prepress company which was one of the original beta sites for the technology; and Gabriel Jaramillo, Operations VP of Colombian flexible packaging provider Plastilene. The previous day, both gave keynote presentations at a Kodak-hosted industry media event that explored the rise of flexo printing for packaging and “the new face of flexo” – a face that is versatile and cost-effective and does not force brands to compromise when it comes to quality and color consistency.

(Left to right) Weatherford Mayor Mike Brown; Kodak Director of Flexographic Packaging Operations Boon Tien Pang; Kodak CEO Jeff Clarke; Speaker Pro Tempore of Oklahoma House of Representatives Harold Wright Jr.; Kodak President of Flexographic Packaging Chris Payne; Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin; Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce and Tourism Deby Snodgrass; and Kodak Weatherford Plant Manager Gene Meier

The manufacturing expansion, which will see the site become a sister operation to Kodak’s existing plate manufacturing operation in Yamanashi, Japan, is a cause for celebration in Western Oklahoma and the Weatherford area. It will bring new jobs and revitalization for a manufacturing plant that this year celebrates the 50th anniversary of the original site groundbreaking.

The facility today plays a major role in Kodak’s FLEXCEL NX business as the specialized manufacturer of the high resolution, thermally imaged film material KODAK FLEXCEL NX Thermal Imaging Layer (TIL). This material is a key component of the competitive differentiation that enables Kodak’s flexo customers to win and boasts an experienced, dedicated and long-standing workforce – two reasons that make the site the perfect choice for the addition of the new line.

IMAGE IN HERE [Kodak Weatherford employees celebrate the Weatherford, Oklahoma groundbreaking with Kodak CEO Jeff Clarke, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin and Kodak Weatherford Plant Manager Gene Meier (second to last row)]

Plant Manager Gene Meier, a Kodak Weatherford veteran with 43 years of service under his belt, couldn’t be more proud that the new line will be in his home town. “It’s a privilege to participate in such a great Kodak growth story and for Weatherford, Oklahoma to be at the center of a business that is literally changing an industry. Not many people get to say they’ve been part of something as special as this in their career.”

The groundbreaking comes just weeks after the opening of Kodak’s new Flexo Packaging Technology Center in Shanghai, China, further demonstrating the investment that Kodak is making in its flexo business around the world. There’s no doubt that Kodak is serious about flexo.