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CTP FIELD REPORTS -- A Digital Duet

May 2002
BY MARK SMITH


A consensus of opinion seems to have been reached about why to adopt a computer-to-plate workflow. At least in some quarters, though, the same cannot be said for the question of how to implement one. Or more precisely, which combination of plate and platesetter is the best solution.

New product introductions continue to fuel the thermal versus violet imaging debate. The recent IPEX international printing expo also brought a new player (Esko-Graphics, the newly named combination of Purup-Eskofot and Barco Graphics) to the arena of digitally imaging conventional ultraviolet plates. Processless technology continues be developed along ablative, phase-change and other tracks. Even the bake or not-to-bake question hasn't been resolved fully.

However, if the following small sample is representative, the issues have been resolved in the minds of CTP users. They report being satisfied with the plate/platesetter combinations they've opted to install and, for the most part, don't anticipate making a change any time soon.

For its U.S. web and sheetfed operations, Bowne Inc. has standardized on the thermal combination of Heidelberg Topsetter platesetters and Kodak Polychrome Graphics 830 plates, reports Dick Johnson, technology director at the organization's headquarters in Piscataway, NJ.

The majority of its web printing is compliance documents for stockholders and the Securities and Exchange Commission, Johnson says. The sheetfed presses print a mixture of compliance and commercial color printing. "When necessary, Bowne will load balance printing across all of our printing plants. By standardizing our platesetters and plates, we can print a product at multiple plants and have near-identical results," he points out.

No Changes Needed

Johnson says he doesn't foresee making a change in Bowne's CTP preferences unless there is a major breakthrough that produces a significant improvement in productivity or a reduction in operating costs. The organization purchases all of its CTP equipment and plans on at least a five-year or longer useful lifecycle, he adds. Overall, the company exec estimates more than 85 percent of the work is done direct-to-plate.

Ambrose Printing, in Nashville TN, is also a mixed sheetfed and web operation, but it only has one location. The printer specializes in religious and sports publications, as well as general commercial printing of magazines and newsletters. It first moved into CTP production in September of 2001 with the installation of a large-format Creo Trendsetter 4557 with autoloader.

"We installed that machine because we have a 55˝ KBA-Planeta sheetfed press," says Harold Eddy, treasurer and co-owner.
 

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