What's New in CTP?

While the nation, and the printing industry, struggles with the economic downturn, many vendors are still moving forward with new products and solutions that will increase efficiency, cut labor costs, and provide value to printing companies. For 2009, a variety of CTP solutions will hit the market to better serve the needs of the commercial printer.

Agfa

Among the new products and services that Agfa is marketing this year is the :Azura TS thermal CTP plate, an upgrade of the original chemistry-free :Azura plate. :Azura TS offers up to 50 percent higher throughput and even sharper contrast for visual inspections. Agfa's PIA/GATF Intertech Award-winning :Energy Elite plate and several other new thermal, violet and chemistry-free plates were shown at Graph last year as well as the new :Avalon N8-50E platesetter, part of the :Avalon family of platesetters.

For those printers interested in wide-format inkjet printing, Agfa's :Anapurna XLS for indoor and outdoor signs and displays made its debut in North America last fall. Specially designed to handle heavy workloads, the :Anapurna XLS UV printer is set apart from its competition by its extremely high image quality, according to the company.

The XLS deploys new, Agfa-developed technology including the Universal Print Head with resolutions up to 1440 dpi, a closed-loop inking system, automated media handling, and maintenance systems to ensure quality of output with minimal operator intervention. It prints on rigid and flexible roll media in widths up to 100 inch offering high media flexibility.

Fujifilm North America

The Javelin 8800E/S/Z/ZX thermal platesetter series is the flagship of Fujifilm's 8-up CTP devices. It supports a wide range of plates formats and types, from 2-page plates up to eight-page plate sizes.

The Javelin 8800 Series features a next-generation Grating Light Valve (GLV) thermal imaging technology with a 512-channel or 1024-channel exposure head. Aimed at companies requiring high throughput at superior levels of image quality and consistency, the Javelin 8800ZX can image at a rate of 51 plates per hour.

For companies that require a lower price point, the Javelin 8800E images at 24 plates per hour, the Javelin 8800S images at 32 plates per hour, or the Javelin 8800Z images at 42 plates per hour. To ensure that a Javelin 8800 investment is protected for years of production, both the E and S models can be upgraded in the field to 32 and 42 plates per hour, respectively.

GLV is an optical micro-electromechanical system. Because of their efficiency and versatility, GLV modules have been developed for high-definition television monitors, electronic cinema projectors, commercial flight simulator displays, and computer-to-plate devices.

When used for digital imaging, GLV technology provides a fast and ultra-precise method of transferring digital images directly onto a printing plate. GLV-based laser diode exposure heads feature 512 channels (E, S or Z) or 1024 channels (ZX) of imaging laser that exposes plates in a wide swath. The imaging width of these exposure heads broadens the area that can be imaged with a single turn of the platesetter drum at low drum rotation speed.

Glunz & Jensen

The company's iCtP PlateWriter 2000 and PlateWriter 2400 inkjet CTP systems are designed for small to mid-size print shops. The PlateWriter 2400 is an addition to Glunz & Jensen's iCtP range of CTP systems, which produces press-ready aluminum plates without the use of chemical processing.

The PlateWriter 2400's inkjet CTP system uses an innovative technology that sets new standards in the cost, flexibility and speed of offset printing for small to medium format printers, according to the company.

The PlateWriter 2000 is designed for the 2-up press format. It makes plates for any and all presses up to a plate size of 18 x 22 inch. Plate sizes can be changed without any changes to settings, giving true flexibility in multi-format print shops. In addition, the optical registration systems it employs, make it capable of delivering metal plates suitable for single, spot color, or full-color work.

The PlateWriter jets a patented Liquid Dot chemical solution onto nonphotosensitive aluminum printing plates. The imaged plates are manually fed through a plate-finishing unit that dries the plates and bonds the Liquid Dots to the plate surface. The plate finishing unit has a built-in gumming station to finish the plates and protect them from damage before going to press.

Caring for the environment is an ever increasing concern for today's printer. The Glunz & Jensen iCtP system uses an additive plate making solution to address this issue, making it free of processing as well as eliminating the associated chemical disposal costs.

Both the imaging system, PlateWriter, and the iPlates operate in daylight conditions, requiring no special handling. The system is easy to use, offers higher quality printing at lower costs, and provides maximum efficiency by eliminating many of the steps and variables involved in preparing offset plates.

Heidelberg

Heidelberg's Saphira Violet Chemfree plate offers the following attributes:

  • It can be exposed on any violet laser device equipped with a 30mW laser—larger lasers are not needed and would not increase throughput
  • Full speed plate—CTP device does not slow down
  • Resolution is 2-98 percent at 200 lpi and supports hybrid screening up to 240 lpi
  • Run length is a minimum of 100,000 impressions
  • The plate can be baked or longer run lengths and UV printing
  • The plate has excellent contrast and image visibility for normal plate inspection and identification
  • Full commercialization will be available by mid-summer
  • No developer or water necessary—only gum is required to protect the plate surface.

Presstek

According to Scott Champeau, CTP product manager at Presstek, "We're cautiously optimistic about the economy for 2009."

The company is marketing the Vector FL 52, a chemistry-free device that will offer big advantages to the printers who buy it. "It uses tap water to rinse the plates," he noted. "You don't have to buy chemicals so steps are taken out of the process, and it saves money."

The Vector FL 52, which was announced at drupa, will also address the concerns of printing companies that are restricted by space. "The device has a small footprint so it works for a lot of smaller plants," he added.

The Vector features a new fiber laser imaging system that is engineered to deliver excellent dot quality and high reliability. It supports a wider range of plate sizes and images Presstek's chemistry-free Freedom Pro plates, which are automatically cleaned in the Vector's integrated plate washer.

Presstek's grained anodized aluminum chemistry-free plates provide superior print performance, improved roll-up, better ink and water latitude, overall color consistency throughout the press run, and excellent on-press handling, he continued. These daylight-safe plates are easy to read after imaging, which enables full inspection prior to mounting on press.

Presstek plates do not require baking or other processing after imaging; only a simple water wash prior to mounting on press. In addition, they are resistant to the solvents used in UV ink. This capability means that the plates can be used for both UV and conventional printing, eliminating the need to stock two different types of plates.

The Compass Series Platesetters, which includes the Compass 4000 Series, 4-up platesetters, and the Compass 8000 Series, 8-up platesetters, range in production speeds from 15 to 38 plates per hour. They image up to 250 lpi (100 l/cm), are offered for use with Presstek's Aurora Pro chemistry-free plates and also image a range of low energy (830 nm laser) third-party thermal plates.

"This is an open system plate that will run on thermal platesetters made by Kodak or Screen or other third-party vendors," Champeau noted. "We haven't done that before."

System features include:

  • The Compass 4015 and 4038 platesetters offer a true four-up drum size and image plate sizes up to 30.0 x 26.96 inches at a rate of up to 15 and 38 plates per hour, respectively.
  • The Compass 8022 and 8030 are eight-page platesetters capable of imaging plates up to 45.7 x 37.4 inches. Compass 8022 and 8030 image up to 22 or 30 full-size plates per hour, respectively.

Screen

Screen's flagship 8-up CTP device is well suited to companies with above-average plate demands. The PlateRite 8800 series offers fast, reliable output, making it the suitable for advanced digital workflows.

The PlateRite 8800 series features four models that handle plate sizes from 12 x 14.6 inch to 45.6 x 37 inch. Multi-channel imaging heads based on grating light valve technology (GLV) ensure exceptional throughput. Support for imaging resolutions of 1,200, 2,400, 2,438 and 2,540 dpi is standard.

The PlateRite 8800E outputs 24 plates per hour when using a 40.5 x 31.4 inch plate and 2,400-dpi resolution. The PlateRite 8800S outputs 32 plates per hour. The PlateRite 8800Z has an option for resolutions of 4,000 dpi, high enough for the printing of bonds, securities and lenticular products. It outputs 42 plates per hour. The PlateRite 8800ZX also is capable of 4,000-dpi resolution and boasts a top speed of 50 plates per hour.

Xante

Xante Corp. is also working on solutions that offer printers great efficiency and will allow them to reduce labor costs this year. "We realize people are delaying decisions until they have more confidence in the national economy," said CEO Robert Ross. "Half way through the year, things should pick up, confidence should go up. The fear level is high right now." Xante expects to continue to maintain its growth because of its "tremendous consumables business," he further noted.

The company is moving ahead with its introduction of the PlateMaker 5 XL, a 16-up polyester CTP device. Shown at Graph in October, the device will ship this year. "We're targeting the low end of the market with this device. It fits a niche—book printing, large document printing, and newspapers—very nicely," he explained. "It's simple to use, very efficient and chemistry free."

The PlateMaker 5 XL is not for four-color printing. It targets B/W or spot color applications such as textbook printing for colleges and universities.

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