ON-PRESS IMAGING — Firing on All Cylinders

As manufacturers of standalone CTP systems and on-press imaging kits, Creo Inc. and Presstek Inc. are in a unique position to evaluate the relative merits of the two technologies. If anything, one might expect the manufacturers to be biased in favor of CTP machines, since they sell those devices, but do not market complete digital presses. However, the market experts at both firms believe a strong case can be made for on-press imaging, both in terms of cost/process advantages and marketing potential.

First, a couple points of clarification probably are needed to put their comparisons in context. Since Presstek holds a registered trademark on the “DI” (for digital imaging) designation, Creo has adopted the DOP (digital offset printing) acronym for its technology. In broad terms, both designations refer to the same class of products.

On-Press Imaging Solutions
  Imaging system No. of colors Max. Sheet size Max. Speed (iph) Comments
Two-page Sheetfed
Heidelberg
QM DI 46-4
Presstek 4 13-3⁄8 x 18-1⁄8″ 10,000 waterless
Ryobi 3404DI Presstek 4 13.39 x 18.11″ 7,000 waterless
Screen TruePress 544 Screen 4 15.5 x 21.4″ 3,200 conventional
Xerox Docu- Color 233 DI Presstek 4 13.39 x 18.11″ 7,000 waterless (Ryobi)
Four-page Sheeted
Adast 705C DI Presstek 4, 5 19-1⁄16 x 26″ 10,000 waterless
Heidelberg Speedmaster 74 DI Creo 4-6 20-7⁄8 x 29-1⁄8″ 15,000 conventional
Karat/KBA
74 Karat
Creo 4 20.5 x 29.1″ 10,000 waterless
Sakurai Oliver 474EPII DI Presstek 4, 5 21-1⁄16 x 29-1⁄8″ 13,000 conventional
Xerox Docu- Color 400 DI Presstek 4, 5 15 x 20.5˝ 12,000 waterless (Adast)
Eight-page Sheetfed
Komori
Project D
Creo 4-8 28-3⁄8 x 40-9⁄16″ 16,000 conventional
Web
MAN Roland DICOweb Creo 6 11.8 – 20.5″ * 20,000 conventional
(*web width)

The range, number and size of the products in the on-press imaging category continue to grow, as the product chart on page 30 shows. This makes it somewhat risky to make blanket statements about the technology, since some may not apply equally to all systems. Hopefully, the product-specific exceptions will be self-evident.

The key advantage of DOP presses is their potential to support shorter cycle times, contends Brad Palmer, corporate vice president of on-press technologies at Creo, based in Vancouver. “This enables the printer to be more responsive to customers and charge more for a higher level of service,” he explains.

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