Wath Upon Dearne, UK

Bluetree Group

Process-free platemaking takes Bluetree's high-speed, eco-conscious production to the next level


The UK's largest online print business, with 600+ employees at 145,000-square-foot offset and digital production site


Get even faster turnaround on high-speed offset operations while committing to sustainable manufacturing

Kodak Solution

SONORA Process Free Plates

"People say how much digital has changed printing—and it has, of course—but litho has evolved just as much. Our investment in the SONORA Process Free Plates is a case in point."
Lewis Rogal, Head of Organizational Development, Bluetree Group
Bluetree group pressroom
Bluetree Group's production facility occupies 145,000 square feet
Bluetree group exterior view
Bluetree Group site in Wath Upon Dearne, UK
Bluetree group sonora ctp
The company's sustainability practices have won them a KODAK SONORA Green Leaf Award
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Bluetree Group defines itself as a company not afraid to change. As the UK's largest online print supplier, they are both fast-growing and fast-producing, as well as committed to greener manufacturing. Adopting Kodak's process-free platemaking technology has helped them prioritize speed and sustainability.

The Business Need

Founded in 1989, Bluetree Group has grown to annual sales of over £40 million by operating two online print shops—instantprint.co.uk for small businesses and Route1Print.co.uk for trade customers—from a production site in England's South Yorkshire county. Success rides on fast turnaround: it's not unusual for them to deliver a job in under 24 hours. They offer a full range of commercial print, with more than half their revenue from offset litho work on a fleet of three Heidelberg Speedmaster presses that can go through 110-180 sets of plates every 12-hour shift. The faster they can get plates from the CTPs to the presses, the better, and with most job runs numbering under 500, quick changeovers are also critical. Sustainability is a priority, too, as the company's ISO 14001 certification demonstrates. Eliminating plate processing—and its associated time and resources—had obvious appeal, but previous trials with process-free plates brought issues with scratching. When they heard of the durability of KODAK SONORA Process Free Plates, Bluetree reached out to Kodak to discuss options.

The Kodak Solution

With work volumes like Bluetree Group's, switching platemaking technology was no small decision. Kodak's plate specialists worked closely with the Bluetree team on-site to develop a smooth changeover plan. They started by trialing the first generation of SONORA Plates on a single CTP line and press, which quickly alleviated Bluetree's concerns about scratching. The plates' on-press performance also impressed, achieving good-quality print within only 15-50 sheets of “develop-on-press” time. Removing wet processing not only sped up prepress, but also completely eliminated processor chemicals and energy, enhancing the company's green credentials. Bluetree saw that adopting SONORA Plates sitewide was a no-brainer. With Kodak's support, they installed a NELA automated transport system to move the plates from the three CTPs to the Speedmaster presses in a streamlined, efficient workflow that keeps the finishing lines constantly running.

The Outcome

Today, Bluetree Group images an average of 40,000 plates per month in a process-free production environment that has reduced costs and waste, expedited prepress, and strengthened the company's commitment to sustainable manufacturing. They no longer have to deal with processor cleaning or quality issues that once caused slowdowns. Their automated line delivers SONORA Plates to the pressroom in the order of their job running list, so press operators can work more efficiently. Embracing change is part of company culture, and the Bluetree team has not looked back: they're now looking ahead to additional enhancements from Kodak's latest SONORA XTRA Process Free Plates.

"There was a bit of a change in culture, moving from wet to dry plates, but it was minimal. It helps that Bluetree Group is one that's not afraid to change."
Paul Bennington, Litho Team Leader, Bluetree Group
" A number of factors persuaded us—not only the cost-savings inherent in the simpler, streamlined workflow, but the sustainability advantages too."
Lewis Rogal, Head of Organizational Development, Bluetree Group
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