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CTP--Hot, Hotter, Hottest!!!

August 1999
What's the latest technological perks to thermal platesetting? What is the hot news on thermal consumables? What recent thermal purchases are fueling CTP? What's the current talk on thermal? Here are hot bytes on the hottest developments.


BY MARIE RANOIA ALONSO


Thermal innovator Creo Products and Heidelberg Prepress report the installation of the 1,000th CTP system at Holland, MI-based Steketee-Van Huis. SVH recently took delivery of its new Trendsetter Spectrum 3244 digital halftone proofing system. The installation of the thermal Spectrum marks the 1,000th digital CTP system implemented by Creo and Heidelberg. Of the 1,000 installs, roughly 900 have been thermal.

At Steketee-Van Huis, the Trendsetter Spectrum will image Imation Matchprint laser proof media and will be driven by a Barco workflow through the Creo Recorder Interface (CRI). The entire production process will be fingerprinted to ensure consistent results.

June marked the second anniversary of the Heidelberg/Creo partnership and, together, the two thermal CTP proponents are installing more than 40 new CTP systems per month, predominately to small- to medium-sized commercial printers. The 1,000 tally includes thermal CTP systems sold by Creo prior to the partnership.

Agfa is offering an interesting twist to its Galileo family of CTP devices, including the GalileoT thermal output machine. The Odyssey solution is intended to speed service response time for Agfa customers requiring diagnostic or upgrade support for the company's Galileo. The Odyssey remote customer support system allows service technicians to conduct upgrades and diagnostics over the network, thanks to a full-duplex audio and visual transmission with a portable video camera at the Galileo, providing a visual troubleshooting edge.

Agfa's second generation thermal plates do not require a pre-bake unit, resulting in lower operating cost and perhaps more importantly, fewer production variables to control or monitor. Thermostar features simple, high-yield developing, processed in EP26 developer. This clean working aqueous developer is a common positive plate developer that has been in use for years. Thermostar offers the option to post-bake—not a bad idea, with run length extension the result of any baking efforts.

Thermostar P971 is matched to the Agfa GalileoT and will work with other 1,064nm thermal laser head devices. Thermostar P970 is compatible with all external drum machines—it has been qualified on Creo and Scitex systems.

Creo recently reported to Agfa that its technologists were pleased with the latitude of the P970 and were satisfied with its imaging performance."

Fujifilm's Brillia LH-PI thermal plate, with medium run lengths of less than 300,000 impressions with no pre- or post-baking required, recently scored a hit with Ambassador Press, a Minneapolis-based printer specializing in healthcare and pharmaceutical work.

Ambassador Press was one of the first commercial printers in the Minneapolis area to use the Fujifilm Brillia plate, when Brillia was introduced four years ago. Ambassador Press reports the Brillia technology works well with its existing Scitex output devices.

In other Brillia developments, Screen (USA) reports that Screen's PlateRite 8000 thermal platesetter, capable of imaging 12 plates per hour at 2,400 dpi, is marking success with Fuji's Brillia

LH-PI medium run-length thermal plate. Screen's PlateRite 8000 thermal CTP device is compatible with Screen's TaigaSPACE, in addition to Adobe, Harlequin and Rampage RIPs. Brillia, in addition to Creo and Screen output devices, supports the Javelin T9000 thermal CTP device, recently launched by Fujifilm, as well as the Scitex Lotem.

What's the status on PEARL? The second generation of Presstek's PEARLgold is in the works. This product will provide run lengths of more than 50,000 impressions and wider fountain/ink compatibility. Future versions of process-free media will have run lengths in excess of 100,000 impressions. Presstek's PEARLdry will undergo further improvements, including increased run length and process-free capability.

Presstek manufactures two basic media products: PEARLdry and PEARLgold, both of which use thermal ablation as the imaging mechanism. Thermal ablation allows for chemical-free cleaning and, in the case of PEARLgold, fully process-free imaging. At present, PEARLdry Plus is a standard media used in the Heidelberg Quickmaster DI press. Standard PEARLdry media is also used in Heidelberg's GTO-DI, Adast's 705C DI and the 74 Karat digital offset press from the joint venture, KBA/Scitex.

Printing Developments (PDI) is making the transition to thermal CTP smooth for Cicero, IL-based E&D Web, installing the company's first completely automated processing system—including automatic transport and chemical replenishing systems.

PDI reports that, once PDI's conventional or, in the case of thermal work, PRISMA plates are loaded in the Scitex Lotem 800V at E&D Web, there will be no need for personnel at E&D Web to handle the plates, until they come through the processor. Whether using conventional or PRISMA plates, E&D prepress personnel can use the same processor and chemistry, helping E&D make a smooth transition to a full-digital workflow.

Scitex is offering a full line of platesetters starting with the Lotem 400V four-up thermal platesetter. Sales of Lotem 800V worldwide reached a record level in Q2 of 1999. There are more than 200 Lotem installations in the field today. The Lotem devices can support thermal plates by Kodak, Fujifilm, Agfa, Mitsubishi, Presstek and PDI.

At the Brisque Advisory Council in July, Scitex launched a new screening technology—Scitex Turbo Screening, which enhances productivity of both the Scitex Lotem and Dolev imagesetting devices. Improvements include excellent vignettes, smooth dot shape, better dot roundness and high-screen

ruling at low-expose resolution, specifically stochastic screening. At present, the Lotem has been installed recently at: Brodock Press, Williams Printing, Reynolds DeWalt, Seiple Litho, S&S Graphics, Quebecor World and Intelligencer.

Kodak Polychrome Graphics is pleased to report a new no-process, short-run thermal plate is being developed and is now readying to move from alpha to beta stage. Working first with the industry leaders for both on- and off-press installations, this new thermal consumable will be targeting the small- to mid-size commercial printing markets.

According to Dave Bartrum, CTP marketing manager at Kodak Polychrome Graphics, customer demand for the company's 830nm thermal plate has outstripped even the most aggressive industry projections. At present, the company is supplying more than 1,000 CTP installations globally with a variety of digital plates, with most of the installs being thermal.

What's Bartrum's take on the thermal plate market—and its ups and downs? To post-bake or not to post-bake?

Bartrum believes that the big culprit in premature wear of unbaked thermal plates is the alcohol substitutes commonly used. Stay tuned for Kodak Polychrome Graphics' next generation of thermal consumables.


Setting Thermal Plates

Creo Products
Creo's CTP systems are offered in eight- to 32-page formats. SQUAREspot thermal imaging is available. Plates from 151⁄2x13˝ to 58x80˝ are supported by the system. Semi-automatic thermal Trendsetters are ideal for high-quality, medium-volume printers. Extended to higher volumes with Autoloader option. 32x30˝ and 32x44˝ formats. Will image wet and dry thermal plates interchangeably, as well as film at resolutions to 3,200 dpi. Wide range of plate sizes, from 15.5x13˝ to the allowable maximum accommodated. Very Large Format (VLF) semi-automatic Trendsetters image thermal plates. Five models (4557, 5067, 5080, 5467, 5880) delivering a combined imaging capability of 20x15.5˝ to 58x80˝. For large-format web and sheetfed printing, such as packaging, magazines, books, inserts, catalogs and directories.

Presstek
PEARLsetter is a press-matched thermal CTP system fitting press formats from 15x20˝ to 24x29˝. PEARLsetter52, an oversized 2-page version; and PEARLsetter74, capable of imaging four-up plates.

Fuji Photo Film USA
Fujifilm's recently introduced thermal eight-up CTP device, Javelin Luxel T9000 CTP, can produce 12 plates per hour at 2,400 dpi. Javelin offers an automatic internal plate punch that provides strong repeatability. Users can mount eight punch blocks and select punches based on plate size and press type. Javelin offers a variety of punches. Javelin, in addition, sports an automatic drum balancing system that requires no manual adjustment, while providing support for a wide range of plate sizes on the external drum. The standard plate loading mechanism is semi-automatic, with two trays for plate loading and unloading.

Krause America
The LaserStar CTP imagesetting system is offered in three sizes—110 (33.4x41.3˝), 140 (41.3x55.9˝) and 170 (53.1x66.9˝)—each with manual or auto load. Resolution to 3,810 dpi. At 2,450 dpi, a 40˝ plate takes 5.9 minutes. Supports argon ion, fdYAG, YAG (1,064 thermal). Uses plates from all manufacturers.

Optronics
Aurora and Aurora ThermalSetter, members of the Aurora line of Optronics platesetters, will image to virtually every plate available—and to film. Using external-drum imaging with pin registration and Optronics' IntelliDot rational, irrational and stochastic screening technologies, the entire Aurora platesetter line offers 0.0002˝ repeatability. Comprehensive RIPRight NT, Common Resolution Workflow (CRW) and Speed-Screen technology for fast imaging.

Agfa
GalileoT: Agfa's 1,064nm thermal platesetter images Thermostar digital plates and supports CristalRaster stochastic screening. The Galileo conventional CTP device is an eight-up, internal-drum digital platemaking system. Format: 44.5x32.29˝. Wavelength of 532nm. Laser exposes silver halide and photopolymer plates. Supports both positive and negative imaging with Agfa's Ozasol N90-A and Lithostar Plus digital plates. Integrates Agfa's digital plates, a plate handler, imaging engine and processor into a single system. Supports Agfa's CristalRaster stochastic screening.

Scitex America
Scitex Lotem family of platesetters include: Lotem 800V (up to 44.5x35.4˝), Lotem 800VF (48 beams), Lotem XL (up to 55x80˝), Lotem Flex 40/45 (digital flexo plate, 39.8x45.3˝) and Lotem 400V (up to 29.5x24.5˝.) All models feature fast, multi-beam, variable resolution thermal imaging technology. Slip sheets are automatically removed at the last moment to protect plates from dust and scratches.

Heidelberg Prepress
The Heidelberg/Creo Trendsetter 3230 family for the 30x32˝ format range now includes four inexpensive, semi-automatic four-page recorders. Publishers with small- to medium-production volumes now can take advantage of thermal CTP technology. The "Autoload" (AL) option is available for all models (except the Spectrum).
 

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