Digital Plate Primer: Enviro Plate Considerations

In addition to the direct resources used in the processing of plates, there are indirect resources used. Plates and processors must be manufactured and delivered, all of which require materials, energy and water. Each of these also has a carbon footprint.

There are a number of different technologies available for digitally imaged plates:

1. Conventional chemically processed

2. Reduced chemistry

3. “Chemistry-free”

4. Processless

Each of the major plate manufacturers offers a variety of options within each of these broad categories. Here’s a breakdown.

Conventional Chemically Processed. There are two main technologies for conventional chemically processed digital plates, using thermal or violet (visible light) lasers. After imaging, these plates need to be processed with chemistry in a processor. Violet plates tend to use more chemistry than do thermal plates. Within each of these broad categories, however, chemistry consumption is essentially similar across manufacturers.

This category is most sensitive to assumptions and plate volumes. The amount of chemistry used depends on the size of the processor; developer needs to be replenished to maintain proper strength; and it must be changed based on volume and time.

In this category we included thermal plates from Agfa (Energy Elite); Fujifilm (Brillia HD LH-PJ/PL); and Kodak (Sword Excel and Electra), and the violet Agfa Lithostar Ultra LAP-V.

Reduced Chemistry. This category is characterized by clever plate or processor design, which helps to reduce chemistry usage. There are a number of options for chemistry reductions, including the use of “intelligent processors,” such as the Fujifilm FLH-Z “ZAC” processor with the Brillia HD LH-PJ/PL plate, or a reduced chemistry plate, such as the Agfa Amigo. With an intelligent processor, the replenishment system delivers the correct chemistry and water solution according to the activity of the developer bath. This provides longer developer life with consistently higher quality and a concomitant slight reduction in chemistry and waste.

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