CTP vs. CTF — The Debate Rages On

Of all the issues, and they are many, facing the graphic arts and printing industry today, none can ignite a heated debate more quickly than the issue of computer-to-plate (CTP) vs. computer-to-film (CTF) among their respective ardent supporters. In the past few years, as CTP became a reality with efficient, dependable and cost-effective equipment, increasing numbers of companies replaced aging imagesetters with platesetting devices.

Why? Because many printers saw the new breed of CTP devices as an opportunity to springboard to a shorter production workflow without the added consumables and chemicals of film processing. Also, the new digital, CTP plates are more uniform, longer-wearing and pressroom staffs across the country continue to sing the praises of this rapidly growing technology. Especially telling is the frequent observation of “plates that always fit vs. CTF then burned plates that must be tweaked to achieve nearly the same results.”

Recent CTP Successes
One such company is Typecraft Inc. in Pasadena, CA. Typecraft is a smaller printer dedicated to continually innovating for its customers with the very best-of-breed technology. In 1998, Typecraft became a 100-percent CTP shop, when it bought a Heidelberg/Creo Trendsetter 3244 and a Trendsetter Spectrum 3244 to produce digital plates and proofs.

Since adopting CTP, Typecraft’s press operators have seen distinct differences with the CTP plates and presswork. Most of their jobs arrive in digital format; however, they do still occasionally receive film or a combination of disks and transparencies. “When a job comes through where plates have been produced using traditional prepress, our press operators know immediately that the plates aren’t CTP because they’re not as sharp and the ‘fit’ is not as good,” explains Tim Silverlake, electronic prepress supervisor at Typecraft. “Our press-men are pleased by the near-perfect register and fit of the CTP-imaged plates. Heidelberg’s accompanying CPC32 technology allows them to accurately preset the ink fountains to precisely the right positions.”

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