Digital Imaging Versus Computer-to-Plate

DI excels for short to mid-run markets

Presstek also sells both CTP and DI technologies and is confident about the continued demand for DI technology. “DI is offering many opportunities for business expansions for digital print service bureaus, prepress studios, small and medium size printers,” states Stan Najmr, DI Director for Presstek Europe. “Digital print services are moving into offset but they have no desire to implement conventional offset. The profitability range of 350-10000 copies of A3+ format represents a strong proposition to European printers.”

For many customers, the deciding factor is often the type of work they are producing, particularly if much of that work is short run colour. “The short run market up to 1500 copies is best served by the digital type devices because of their ease of use. The mid-run market fits well into the DI market because of the lower cost per page than digital devices and faster make-readies with less waste than conventional presses,” explains Najmr. “The long-run market is best suited for a conventional press and CTP because the longer runs can compensate economically for the increased make-ready time, waste from registration pulls, and ink [and] water balance issues associated with the conventional process.”

CTP market expanding globally

The growing requirement for four colour print, combined with falling run lengths, increases the attractiveness of a Direct Imaging press, particularly in the US and European markets. However, many printers still prefer the flexibility of a CTP system, whether it’s violet or thermal imaging, and the fact that platemaking can be done simultaneously with the press running. This could be a compelling argument for certain markets, particularly for commercial print, but format flexibility also offers considerable appeal. According to Fujifilm, the overall market for CTP will be worth some 2.4 billion Euros by 2008. Projections for the DI market are not publicly available, but are believed to be substantially less than this.

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