Computer-to-Plate — Digital Plate Developments

At left, Jamie Richards, prepress specialist, and Gerry Montes, platemaker, inspect a digital plate at Phoenix Marketing Services.

Looking to boost its efficiency, the shop decided to install a new Heidelberg Suprasetter platesetter with multiple cassettes for automated operation. It also switched to running Saphira Chemfree plates, which are manufactured to Heidelberg’s specs as part of an optimized solution.

The plate requires only a gum rinse in a unit that just needs a jug swapped out about every month and a half, Habicht adds. “It doesn’t need to be hooked into any plumbing.” The operator also wipes the rollers down with hot water weekly.

He says having to gum the plates doesn’t affect the shop’s process and actually provides a benefit. “Putting the gum on means we don’t have to worry if the plates sit for two or three days. Since we are processing so many plates in a day (up to 80 plates), we’ll sometimes have a set sit for several days for one scheduling reason or another.”

Printing Specialist has 15 employees and used to have a person dedicated to platemaking for the 450 to 550 jobs it averages a month. The shop’s average run length is in the 3,000 to 5,000 impressions range, but it does runs of 50,000 to 60,000 on the high side. It specialize in high-end commercial work for agencies, designers and other printers, producing the jobs on two Heidelber Quickmasters, a five-color Heidelberg Speedmaster 52 and a two-color Halm Superjet envelope press.

For a time, the printer kept running its old CTP solution so it had the opportunity to output the same job on both plates to see if there was any performance difference. “There really wasn’t any difference on-press at all,” Habicht reveals. “We’re using the same fountain solution and press settings.”

Eliminating variability was a key motivating factor for Phoenix Marketing Services’ switch to chemistry-free plates. It is now using a similar, but not identical, CTP solution from Agfa Graphics—Azura thermal plates.

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