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Computer-to-plate and Thermal Advancements

January 1998
Be it expanding the performance of a conventional CTP site or capitalizing on thermal CTP, this sampling of digital prepress pioneers runs the gamut.

As technologies for improving computer-to-plate performance continue to test the mettle of the most ingenious of today's commercial printers, the question raised seems more a statement of logic than a much-pondered, genuine inquiry.

How good is CTP?

Whether the direction is a conventional CTP route, with investments in a team of platesetting devices and digital proofers, or a thermal CTP focus capitalizing on the proliferation of thermal plates and growing volume of thermal platesetting devices, one factor seems clear: CTP is working.

CTP is enhancing productivity, delivering quality turnaround and helping commercial printers forge new business opportunities. And while some industry insiders contend advancements in thermal plate development will eventually drive the overall CTP market, the worth of conventional CTP remains valid, and is being increasingly exploited by commercial printing operations.

Let's visit Anderson Lithograph, where a CTP focus relies on thermal imaging technologies from Creo Products, Kodak and Polaroid. Mark Tennant, director of digital imaging and new business development at the Los Angeles-based printer of annual reports, automotive brochures and high-end collateral, will be our tour guide.

Anderson Lithograph
Los Angeles, CA
A thermal CTP site for nearly one year, Anderson Lithograph was on the ground floor of the Creo/Kodak value-added thermal CTP punch that clocked the industry in 1996—still leaving a few industry jaws nursing a slight ache.

An investment in two SGI servers—400GB of on-line and 6.5 terabytes near-line storage running on an ATM backbone that connects to the Creo Trendsetter 3244—gives the throughput required to feed Anderson's six sheetfed and five web presses. This foundation teamed with thermal plate technologies from Kodak, and later the inclusion of Polaroid's DryTech, as well as digital proofing technologies from Kodak in the form of Approval gave life to what today can be tagged a thriving thermal CTP operation.

"We had a distinct concept in mind for establishing our thermal CTP operation," explains Tennant. "We started off conservative with the usage of our CTP devices, then, as we grew our network, we devoted a lot of time and energy to supporting our CTP abilities."

Today Anderson Lithograph is, on a daily basis, running six- and eight-color work utilizing thermal CTP. Writing plates on a CTP device is the easiest part of the equation, Tennant reports, while managing the digital data, picking the correct network architecture and training personnel is where the rubber meets the road.

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