Kodak hosted employees, customers and community leaders at a groundbreaking ceremony held April 20 in Weatherford, Oklahoma, to celebrate the expansion of its manufacturing facility to accommodate the production of its flexo plate line, Flexcel NX Plates.

Members of the media, including Flexible Packaging, were also in attendance at the event, which featured a ribbon-cutting ceremony by Kodak CEO Jeff Clarke and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin as well as remarks by Chris Payne, Kodak’s flexographic packaging division president.

The Weatherford flexo plate line – a sister operation to Kodak’s existing plate manufacturing facility in Yamanashi, Japan – is a $15 million investment and will meet increasing industry demand for higher quality flexographic printed packaging, company officials say. The new line is expected to be in full production by early 2019 and will initially focus on customers in the United States, Canada and Latin America.

“Today’s celebration brings focus on the ‘new face of flexo,’” Clarke says of the plate line, which represents one of the company’s largest capital investments since 2000. “Kodak’s differentiated flexo technology is helping our customers to drive growth, break new ground and transform flexographic printing and the packaging industry as a whole. The growth of Kodak Flexcel NX speaks to the strength and opportunity of the flexographic packaging market, and we’re looking forward to using the expanding facility here in Weatherford to continue helping our customers realize the benefits of Kodak’s flexo technology and what its unique capabilities can do for the business.”

Flexible Packaging, along with other print and packaging media members and key Flexcel NX Plate customers, attended an intimate VIP customer and media event at the Colcord Hotel in Oklahoma City a day prior to the groundbreaking ceremony.

“We believe, ultimately, that flexographic is the choice for package printing,” Payne says of Kodak’s commitment to flexo innovation.

Payne also spoke on Kodak’s role in driving growth and innovation in flexographic printing, and two Kodak customers spoke about flexo printing’s impact on their businesses.

“The last two days have been a fantastic opportunity to share our vision for flexo, our story of growth and the unique Kodak technology that enables it,” Payne says. “It was a privilege to host elected officials, customers and the media to mark this occasion.”