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DIGITAL digest

November 2007
Agfa Invests in Plate, Ink-Jet Resources

BRANCHBURG, NJ—Rural New Jersey isn’t usually thought of as a hotbed of activity, but it’s becoming one for Agfa Graphics. The company recently held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Agfa Competence Center that was added to its local plate manufacturing facility. It also announced plans for a significant retooling of one of the plant’s plate lines to boost capacity and enable local production of products based on ThermoFuse technology, including Azura and Amigo digital plates.

The competence center currently features two large-format ink-jet printers—an Anapurna XL, which prints up to a 981⁄2˝ width, and Anapurna M, which handles a maximum 63˝ media width. Still to be finalized are presentations on the Dotrix and M-Press ink-jet product lines.

On the plate side, an Avalon LF thermal platesetter with the PlateManager auto loader was installed for the opening of the center. That machine also can be used to demonstrate Agfa’s IntellSyst live remote diagnostic service, which is available 24/7 and reportedly has a solution rate in the 50 percent range for hardware issues and better than 90 percent for software problems.

Designed to be an educational resource, the competence center is a component of Agfa’s “C to the power of three” concept (www.switchtoC3.com) that embodies its commitment to providing end-to-end services and industrial ink-jet solutions. The “C” stands for complete, as in complete integration, services and benefits.

Wielding scissors at the ribbon cutting were Tom Saggiomo, president of Agfa Graphics North America; Julian Robledo, general manager of Agfa Ink-jet Solutions, North America; and Jeff Aurichio, director of the Branchburg manufacturing operation. Representatives from the company’s dealer partners and members of the press joined Agfa executives for the ceremony.

The Branchburg facility’s electro-chemical graining plate line is set to be stopped in the first quarter of 2008 and is expected to be back in commercial production by the third quarter. Inventories in Agfa’s national plate supply chain are being beefed up ahead of the shut down and products also can be sourced from its other manufacturing sites around the globe as needed to meet demand.

A key component of the upgrade will be enhancement of the line’s graining capabilities to provide the greater consistency and uniformity required with Thermo-Fuse technology. Agfa also is using this opportunity to reduce the environmental impact of the manufacturing process through efforts such as energy recuperation.

In a preview of official announcements set for the following week at Ifra, Saggiomo revealed that the company’s still-to-be-named violet chemistry-free plate is already being used at an Austrian publishing company, Mediaprint, to produce runs of 200,000 impressions and is expected to be available in the second quarter of next year. Also in early 2008, Agfa is planning a gradual phase-in of the new N92v violet photopolymer plate that is formulated to handle long runs without baking.



PODi Is True To Forum in Las Vegas

ROCHESTER, NY—Las Vegas continues to be an “in” spot for graphic arts events, with the 2008 PODi Application Forum now added to the list in a return engagement for the conference. This “Celebration of Digital Print” is scheduled to run from January 28-30 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino.

A full day of “pre-conference intensives” is being offered on Monday, January 28, for an additional registration fee. Topics range from getting started in mailing services to solution selling and database management. Bus tours to local digital printers are also an option.

Rab Govil, PODi president, will give a keynote address to kick off the formal AppForum the following day. Next up will be a presentation of the annual best practices awards, followed by a session offering insights from the winners. Attendees will be able to pick from a dozen breakout sessions in the afternoon.

The final day will start with a jolt from Rick Smith, CEO of TASER International (think stun guns), who will share some of the lessons his company has learned from doing complex variable data communications. Sandwiched between 11 more breakout sessions will be a presentation by Joel Cartun, founder of Vestcom International, a leading provider of specialized in-store marketing communications.

More information is available at www.podiforum.org.



digital bytes

SALT LAKE CITY—AlphaGraphics is leveraging its long-standing relationship with EFI to deploy XMPie’s uDirect Professional Premier Edition variable data software (sold by EFI) to its 250 franchises worldwide. In August, AlphaGraphics launched a new division, agDirect Marketing, focused on providing one-to-one marketing solutions.

ROCHESTER, NY—Making a $60 million investment, Xerox Corp. has opened its first American emulsion aggregation (EA) toner plant here. In a related development, the company introduced a document security technology capable of printing variable text that becomes readable when exposed to infrared light. The InfraredMark Specialty Imaging Font is printed using a pair of CMYK toner sets that exhibit opposite levels of infrared light absorption.

HEIDELBERG, GERMANY—The 1,500th Suprasetter thermal platesetter manufactured by Heidelberger Druckmaschinen, a model S74, has been installed by Western Graphics in St. Paul, MN, as a replacement for its original Topsetter unit. Factoring in all of its current and past product lines, Heidelberg has now manufactured more than 6,000 CTP systems.

RUMFORD, RI—American Printer of RI is expanding its capability to produce large-format signs by installing a ColorSpan 9840uv flatbed ink-jet printer from MacDermid ColorSpan. The 35-year-old firm is said to be the first printer in Rhode Island to install that model.

BOULDER, CO—Users of QuarkXPress and other Quark Inc. products now have access to informational resources through an independent Website, Planet-Quark.com. It features daily news posts, as well as tips, tutorials, feature articles, bug reports and a job board.
 

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