Sunday, 14 May 2017 18:40 GMT

Computer-to-plate systems

Jo Golding asks: “What do printing companies demand from computer-to-plate (CtP) systems in today’s market and how does your own technology meet the needs of these customers?”

Heart of printing

Prepress is the heart of any print house—just like excellent tyres are key to a high-performing sports car. Imaging quality and stability are key to getting the best performance on press and avoiding costly rework downstream. Key considerations are getting the best imaging technology you can get versus getting something that is good enough. In addition, any investment in operational efficiency and flexibility will not just save costs in prepress, but show huge benefits downstream on the press where the money is made.

Often, space can be a constraint against adding automation, and some of the new technologies, such as process free plates, eliminate processors and free up space. In addition, new CtP options like the new MCU option for the Kodak Trendsetter Platesetter can reduce the required space in half compared to other solutions, enabling new automation options downstream like inline bending and sorting, which were previously not possible.

Since Kodak introduced the thermal technology in 1995, the world has followed and standardised on thermal imaging for plate making. But even 21,000 CtP’s later, Kodak continues to invest and provide market-leading CtP technology and options. Some highlights include Kodak’s Squarespot imaging technology, which continues to provide market-leading imaging capabilities that are key to getting the best out of your press.

Since Kodak introduced the thermal technology in 1995, the world has followed and standardised on thermal imaging for plate making


Kodak also has a wide range of CtP options with Kodak Achieve, Kodak Trendsetter, and Kodak Magnus platesetters to meet a wide range of customer needs. Kodak has new automation offerings with the new SCU and MCU options for the affordable Kodak Achieve platesetter and Kodak Trendsetter platesetters, with new benefits including significant footprint savings and significant power savings.

Kodak’s new ultra-high speed capabilities with the new W-speed option for the Kodak Trendsetter platesetters provide throughputs up to 75 plates per hour, even with process free plates like Kodak Sonora plates.

Meeting demand


Bob Usher, managing director, Apex Digital Graphics


Affordable plates using low-chemistry development and automation are typical demands from the market right now, as well as compatibility with LED-UV presses for those companies that have moved in that direction.

Whilst our Cron products can offer a wide range of solutions to printers right across the market, our latest introduction, the Cron 26H, is particularly targeted at the B3 litho printer. It is a fully automated external drum CtP system with auto-loading and in-line plate punch. The system runs the new Blackwood Emerald UV low-chemistry plates, and the in-line Cron Emerald wash unit cleans the plate of unexposed polymer with a simple soap and water solution.

Affordable plates using low-chemistry development and automation are typical demands from the market right now


Our friends at Cron have listened to our thoughts on what the market in the UK is needing right now and have provided us with the ideal machine for the B3 litho market. Having installed over 500 DPX Systems in the UK, when polyester plate material took the market by storm, we view this latest addition to the Cron range as the ideal machine to replace that very popular product.

The compact format of the unit has been achieved by integrating the autoloader and punch system into the imaging unit, and developing a smaller footprint wash unit.

The basic system will be able to produce some 26 plates per hour, and should be capable of imaging up to 850sq m of plate per month. A typical B3 printer in the UK is generally looking at producing some 2,000sq m per annum, therefore the machine is comfortably in specification for the busy B3 print shop.

The 26H was one of three Cron CtP units on show at our recent Real Print and Finish event. Plates were being imaged on the larger machines in order to run on the feature exhibit, an RMGT Ryobi 924 LED-UV press that had been recently installed in the Apex showroom.

Reinvent yourself


Eddy De Dobbeleer, global market manager prepress, Agfa Graphics


In the digital age, print still stands strong. Yet, faced with technological evolution, printers need to reinvent themselves. Globalisation and digitisation open up new business opportunities—just think of web-to-print technology and workflows in the clouds as two examples.

On a worldwide basis, the number of printed jobs is still increasing, but the general trend is towards shorter runs, tighter deadlines, higher quality, and improved cost efficiency. Operational excellence is a key driver for printers to grow their businesses.

Agfa Graphics makes significant investments in the research and development of new solutions that provide printers with the greatest possible value. We are committed to sustainable innovation that focuses on ecology, economy, and extra convenience—or ECO³. This means we aim at developing cleaner and cost-effective solutions that are easier to operate and maintain.

The general trend is towards shorter runs, tighter deadlines, higher quality, and improved cost efficiency


The key trend is high productivity with maximum efficiency. Agfa Graphics’ Avalon platesetters come in a range of sizes and performance standards. The industry-leading Avalon N8-90 CtP system images 70 B1 plates per hour, and provides online plate loading up to 1,200 plates. Even the largest 96-page presses are covered by the Avalon portfolio with a plate size up to 2.845m (112").

Another major trend is the ever-increasing focus on ecology. Agfa Graphics’ printing plates are designed for maximum performance on press, while boasting the best ecological features that also keep operational costs as low as possible. Azura is still the undisputed number one chemistry-free printing plate, renowned for its reliable and consistent platemaking and uncompromising quality. It is complemented by our Energy Elite Eco printing plate and the Arkana smart processing technology—a combination that provides the best press results with the lowest chemistry usage, while requiring no water at all for rinsing. As a result, it allows printers to further reduce their CO2 footprint and to reduce maintenance time—and thus to save time and money.

All round solution


Bui Burke, vice-president, sales, Screen Europe


In today’s highly competitive commercial print market, printers need computer-to-plate systems that are fast, reliable, and environmentally-friendly outputting high quality, high resolution plates at the right price.

Screen provides CtP devices for all press sizes and all throughput requirements, and each machine is built with the same attention to detail that ensures world-renowned reliability. Many existing customers have been using their CtP devices for more than ten years and their machines are still performing as well today as the day they were installed. This is at least partly due to the tailored service and support contracts Screen provides to suit the needs of individual printers.

Our flagship B1 device launched last year, the PlateRite HD8900-Z, can output up to 70 B1 plates per hour. When coupled with our multi-cassette autoloader and driven by Screen’s Equios Workflow, the printer has all the tools it needs to meet the requirements of today’s demanding customers.

Environmental factors are increasingly important as a consideration for printers when buying new equipment


Equios is a scalable hybrid workflow system designed to grow and adapt in conventional and digital ‘print-on-demand’ environments. It is an open system capable of driving not just CtP systems but also Screen digital printing equipment. Equios automates job management, including accurate imposition and consistent colour management, enabling the printer to produce high quality work efficiently.

Environmental factors are increasingly important as a consideration for printers when buying new equipment. Screen strives to ensure that its CtP products consume less energy and prioritises safety and environmental concerns.

It is not just about being ‘green’, it is also about saving money. Screen is continually reducing the power consumption of its equipment. The latest models have a power-saving mode allowing energy savings of up to 88 percent during idling. Less power consumption equals lower energy bills for the printer. Screen CtP systems also support chemical free plates. This eliminates the need for a chemical processor, further reducing running costs.


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