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CTP--The Digital DRUPA

March 2000
DRUPA 1995 was the beginning of the thermal computer-to-plate frenzy. Leading the charge: Creo and Kodak. Five years later, new platesetting initiatives are poised for DRUPA 2000. What digital platesetters will be announced at DRUPA 2000? Dusseldorf, Germany, holds the answers.


BY MARIE RANOIA ALONSO


At DRUPA 1995, a tiny Creo Products—tiny compared with the CTP giants Linotype-Hell, Gerber and Scitex— touted the production and workflow merits of thermal CTP for commercial printing. Creo's message was all thermal. Kodak consumables were Creo's enabling technology, bridging Creo's thermal output engines with the digital plate production demands of the average commercial printer.

Who didn't take notice?

There was no doubt at DRUPA 1995; the vendors were betting big R&D dollars that the industry was ready to go filmless and CTP machines were going to make this move happen. Creo was an early leader, at the time, in thermal CTP, with roughly two dozen output devices installed.

What a difference from one DRUPA to the next. Two months from now, Creo, no longer tiny by any measuring stick, will enter DRUPA 2000 as the new owner of the digital prepress component of Scitex and a strategic joint-venture partner with Heidelberg Prepress, the owner of the former Linotype-Hell.

What opportunities will DRUPA 2000 hold for Creo, Heidelberg Prepress and competitive thermal CTP and conventional CTP platesetter vendors? Since DRUPA 1995, platesetter manufacturers have been slugging it out over new launches and debating the promise and commercial viability of thermal technology. They have also been partnering, acquiring and OEMing back and forth.

At DRUPA 1995, suppliers like DuPont Crosfield took center stage, joining Escher-Grad in touting the upgrade path from film recording to platesetting. BARCO, Cymbolic Sciences, Eskofot (minus Purup), Optronics and Screen, on the other hand, were constant in emphasizing their respective, circa 1995, plate recorders' abilities to image film.

With Baited Breath
What should we expect for DRUPA 2000 from the CTP vendor community? Expectations are for this technology segment to grow rapidly as conventional, thermal and new variations of the platesetter evolve to meet the needs of a broader base of users—from the small, standalone printer to the multi-site mega-consolidator.

While many contend vehemently that the YAG laser devices with photopolymer plates will maintain their leadership position in value when packaged with manual-load devices such as the Fuji PlateJet and Brillia LP-N plates, thermal CTP devices will continue to gain marketing momentum and installation strength, offering printers a variety of semi- and fully automatic incarnations.


 

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