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NexPress Substrate Qualification Program

The Kodak NEXPRESS qualification program consists of several testing components, as defined by Kodak NEXPRESS and performed by trained PAL technologists. These components are a mix of evaluations of adhesion, runnability, performance/transfer stability, and print quality. Testing is performed only after the Kodak NEXPRESS has undergone daily and weekly calibrations to ensure its performance falls within a controlled window of expectations for testing.

Introducing the NEW NexPress Substrate Qualification Procedure

Effective January 1st 2017

What Is It?

The Printing Applications Laboratory (PAL) at RIT offers substrate performance testing services through the fee-based Kodak NEXPRESS Digital Production Color Press Substrate Qualification program. This program employs seven tests to assess the performance and quality of independently manufactured paper products and provide a marketable certification of quality. These tests, defined by Kodak NEXPRESS and performed by trained PAL technologists, evaluate performance in fusing, curl, wrinkle, runnability, transfer stability, and print quality. Upon completion, customers are awarded a certificate of qualification, an assessed substrate performance grade, and a qualified substrate seal, and are provided a detailed testing report. In addition, customers receive digital script files outlining ideal press parameters for optimal performance with their substrate; these files can be installed on any Kodak NEXPRESS Digital Production Color Press to quickly facilitate setup and automatically adjust performance settings for optimal quality based on an individual product’s characteristics. These script files are also added to Kodak’s Qualified Substrate Catalog, an internationally-available database of products, their assessed grades, and their recommended press setup parameters.

How Does It Work?

Customers must provide 5,000 sheets of sample substrate in order to achieve qualification. Upon receipt, substrate samples are acclimated to environmental testing conditions standardized by the Technical Association of the Pulp & Paper Industry (TAPPI) for 24 hours. During this time, the PAL performs daily calibrations on its Kodak NEXPRESS s3000 machine to ensure its performance falls within a controlled window of expectations defined by Kodak itself. When the press is calibrated and the substrate sample has been adequately acclimated, experts in the PAL Print Materials Analysis Lab first measure and verify the product’s basic properties, and then assess its on-press performance using seven standardized tests:

  1. SIC  evaluation: Calibrates timing of paper feed and duplexing (if relevant to the substrate). If a SIC evaluation cannot be run successfully, then it is not possible to complete the qualification.
  2. Duplex capability assessment: Determines whether the press is capable of printing and fusing both sides of the substrate evenly. If duplex imaging and fusing shows diminished quality, the substrate may then be tested as a single-sided sheet only.
  3. NMR evaluation: Calibrates the fusing by adjusting both the width of the fuser nip and the temperature at which the fuser runs, developing a substrate-specific combination of nip parameters and temperature recommended to achieve optimal adhesion and image-sheet gloss ratios. Results are graded against a capability scale and are assigned a grade.
  4. Curl and wrinkle evaluation: Determines whether printed sheet curl falls within tolerances established by Kodak, and the impact of paper delivery on base sheet wrinkle. If these two artifacts are encountered, the NMR evaluation is adjusted to mitigate their impacts.
  5. ICC Cluster assignment: Prints a target using defined International Color Consortium (ICC) profiles. Spectral measurements of printed samples are compared to control clusters; the printed sample is graded as the ICC cluster that has the lowest color difference (measured in Delta-E).
  6. 3 SIC evaluation: Three additional SIC timing runs are completed using the optimal fuser settings derived from the NMR evaluation. These results inform the final script for optimal press parameters, and are supplied to Kodak for final approval.
  7. Runnability evaluation: Evaluates physical and quality performance over a 2000-sheet run under parameters established in the preceding steps. Results of this test are used to assess both machine and substrate performance over sustained printing. Issues uncovered during runnability evaluations are graded on a scale of severity and assigned a grade.

Upon completion of physical qualification tests, results data is supplied to Kodak for analysis and final qualification approval. Kodak then generates the standardized script files for the product and grade, distributing them both to the customer and the Qualified Substrate Catalog. Customers then receive a detailed testing results report, a certificate of qualification, and a qualified substrate seal.

What Else is Available?

Dual Grain Qualification

Based on industry feedback and common practices, Kodak now offers a dual evaluation in which both grain directions of a sheet are tested in a single extended qualification procedure. As some test factors are not impacted by sheet grain direction equally—and therefore not tested equally—this service is offered at a reduced price. Manufacturers must supply 5,000 sheets of the substrate in each grain direction.

Substrate Family Qualification

Kodak has developed a process by which all weights within a given product family may be qualified by independently qualifying the lightest-, heaviest-, and median-weight grades of the same substrate. The remaining weights will be qualified based on these three grades using an interpolated performance curve, and will receive unique script files whose parameters are calculated from measured findings. Interpolated qualifications are subject to an administrative fee, but do not require substrate samples.

Official Qualified Substrate Catalog

RIT proudly hosts the Kodak NEXPRESS Worldwide Qualified Substrate Catalog in support of Kodak Digital Production Color Press owners and operators. With manufacturer approval, qualified substrates are added to the catalog after they have completed testing. Substrates may be removed from the catalog if they have not been successfully re-qualified within the last four years.

Pricing & Basic Requirements

Single Qualification $1,800 per substrate
Dual Grain Qualification $2,400 per substrate
Interpolated Qualification $300 per substrate
Number of Sheets Required for Qualification 5,000
Sheet Size Required for Qualification
(Size tolerance should not exceed +/- 1mm)
11” x 17” - 14” x 20”
280mm x 432mm – 356mm x 508mm
Acceptable Sheet Thickness Range Natural: 50 - 400 µm
Synthetic: 50 - 125 µm
Acceptable Uncoated Substrate Grammage Range 59 - 352 gsm
Acceptable Coated Substrate Grammage Range 80 - 352 gsm
Additional Testing

In addition to substrate qualification, PAL also supports customized evaluations on the Kodak NEXPRESS; this can include, but is not limited, to:

  • Adhesion Evaluation
  • Runnability Evaluation
  • Image Quality Evaluation
  • Benchmarking Samples
  • Complaint Validation

Paper testing not related to Kodak NEXPRESS qualification is billed at the PAL hourly rate of $365 per hour. A quote will be provided estimating the costs of testing, machine setup, maintenance, and materials.

Additional Information 

For more information on the Kodak NEXPRESS Digital Production Color Press Substrate Qualification Program, please consult our program brochure by clicking on the press below:

Program Brochure

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