Kern GmbH is enjoying strong growth and lower operating costs after investing in leading inkjet and digital printing technologies from Kodak. The company has deployed six Kodak Prosper S10 Imprinting Systems in a unique finishing line, and a new Kodak NexPress SX3300 Digital Production Color Press with the optional oblong-size feeder.
Kern is one of the most innovative companies in Germany’s graphic arts industry, and employs 43 staff. The full-service provider, based in Bexbach in the Saarland, is expanding despite the economic climate, and has recently extended its premises.
A cornerstone of Kern’s success is its commitment to investing in advanced production technologies. The company produces a range of collateral and commercial work, but predominantly direct marketing products. “We started out as a traditional commercial printer, but now most of our sales come from direct marketing and variable data printing,” says André Kern, Managing Partner. “We’re very strong in finishing, addressing and personalization, and are often tasked with finding solutions for tricky direct-mail products.”
Kern produces mailings and self-mailers in runs between 10,000 and one million copies. The company counts among its clientele major mobile telephone and telecommunication providers, car companies, consumer goods manufacturers, tourism operators, financial service providers and insurance firms.
In the past, customers’ exacting quality requirements meant that printing and finishing the mailings involved at least a three-stage process. The static content was preprinted in color in sheet-fed offset. This was followed by imprinting the variable, monochrome black content on laser printing systems, before conversion to the finished direct mailers on various finishing machines.
“For some time we’d been looking into how we could meet our customers’ stringent quality standards with an inkjet system that offers low operating costs,” continues Kern. “We ran trials with simple inkjet heads from another manufacturer, but they didn’t deliver the quality and resistance we hoped for.”
Flexibility is king
Kern was impressed when it saw samples produced with the Kodak Prosper S-Series Imprinting Systems. It was clear that the hybrid digital product line using KODAK Steam Inkjet Technology could deliver requisite quality and productivity and produce cost-effective personalization on a wide range of papers.
Kodak Prosper S10 Imprinting Systems use pigment-based ink and print at a resolution of 600 x 600dpi. Kern uses the six systems for variable data printing in a one-of-a-kind mailing machine designed for double-sided personalization and complete, rationalized finishing of self-mailers in one pass.
Kern has named the system the Perfector-Flexomailer because it offers remarkable flexibility in terms of formats, the paper types that can be used, and inline finishing functions. Sheets up to 700 x 1,000 mm can be processed on the system, ensuring compatibility with the existing offset presses.
When the new finishing line was installed in May 2010, three of the Prosper S10 Imprinting Systems were integrated into the line for addressing and customizing the products. A further three Prosper S10 systems followed later in the year. The imprinting systems are supplied with ink from 20-liter cubitainers, and are controlled by two Kodak CS410 System Controllers.