DIGITAL PLATESETTERS -- Growing by Twos and Fours
MacBride doesn't consider dealing with a silver-based process to be a big issue. He says he's been hearing about higher wattage violet lasers for imaging photo-polymer plates since buying the system, but "it was always coming in six months."
Heidelberg recently did introduce a 30mW violet laser for the Prosetter family (which also includes the two-page Prosetter 2), and added a Single Cassette Loader option for automated operation.
The manufacturer also offers the Topsetter P 74 thermal platesetter for imaging plate sizes from 12.8x14.5˝ up to 25.9x32.7˝. The external drum machine is available in configurations from semi- to fully-automatic.
Size factored into the choice of platesetter at Charter Printing in Alexandria, VA, but in this case it was the dimensions of the unit itself. Ray Whalen, vice president of operations, says his company started out by researching all of the options and running test plates.
"Basically, they all work pretty well. That led us to consider the footprint of the device and supporting equipment, consumable requirements, ease of operation and the amount of servicing we could actually do internally, as well as the level of service we could expect from the manufacturer," he reports.
Since the Presstek Dimension 400 platesetter that Charter installed uses ablative technology, it requires a small footprint and doesn't need a temperature-controlled processor or chemistry, Whalen points out. Imaged plates only require a plain water rinse.
"This was a good choice all the way around—for our employees and for the environment, as well as the cost to produce a plate," he says.
The printer has been running the platesetter and Anthem plates for more than two years, and is now looking to expand its capabilities by installing a Dimension 800 eight-page model. "Due to the solid performance history of the 400, we are looking at a refurbished model. We are confident that the 800 will perform as well as our current machine. It uses the same technology," Whalen notes.