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CTP Experiences--Digital Devotees

November 2000
BY MOLLY JOSS


In a little more than five years, computer-to-plate (CTP) technology has moved past the early experimenter phase and has moved into the later stages of the early adopter stage. Some might even argue it's moved into the early stages of the mainstream phase.

However you measure it, it's difficult to argue that CTP is a flash-in-the-pan technology. Still, it hasn't yet found its way into every print shop in the nation and around the world. Widespread acceptance to that degree is yet to come.

Wanting to get an inside look at how CTP is coming along, Printing Impressions recently spoke with five individuals who have helped shepherd CTP into the printing companies for which they work. We asked them, among other questions, what they had learned through their experiences, what they wished they had known before they moved into a digital workflow, and how CTP has changed their jobs and their companies as a whole. Their comments and the details they shared about their experiences are enlightening and encouraging.

User Commonalities
Although all five interviews were conducted separately, some themes and conclusions emerged that most, or all, of the men shared. Here are the most striking of those commonalities:

  • No matter what CTP system or CTP vendor was involved, everyone said they had found the supplier they worked with to be helpful and that they were satisfied with the system(s) they had purchased. Several companies that had started out with one system were so pleased with their investment that they have recently added one or more new units from the same company.

  • They had all been able to make the transition from their previous workflow—whether it was from imposed film or not—within months of the date the CTP system was installed. Three to six months was the average transition time and none needed more than six months to make the switch.

  • All noticed improvements and benefits, including reduced make- ready times and improved productivity, during the initial installation period. These same benefits have continued, if not increased, to date.


Individual Differences
When platesetter vendors first started selling CTP systems, the list of benefits they promised included better print quality across the length of the print run and improved registration. Some also suggested printers could look forward to improved productivity. As is the case with many sales campaigns for new products in any industry, the list of benefits came along with a list of qualifiers intended to convey the thought that not every user would enjoy these benefits to an equal degree.


 

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