ROI on CTP–To Buy or Not to Buy?

Most manufacturers of CTP systems will assist printers with their decisions by providing workflow studies and system comparisons between digital and conventional plates. These studies deliver an invaluable service a printer should consider.

However a printer decides to determine his ROI—using internal expertise, specially designed software programs or with the help of CTP vendors—the bottom-line question will always be: “If a CTP system costs X, and I have to pay X per month, how will I realize my ROI?”

Most printers approach this question very carefully. While the question may seem simple, the workflow studies and formulas for figuring out ROI can frighten any printer contemplating the technology.

The trick is to look hard—and be digitally prepared (have a digital workflow in place)—before making the leap.

“We didn’t just jump into CTP,” Richards explains. “We’ve been 99.9 percent digital for four to five years. We streamlined the entire prepress process to get an electronic ticket that we completely understood before going CTP. Once we knew our prepress was predictable, then we went direct-to-plate.”

While not revealing the specific cost of the system, Richards does say United Lithograph expects a three-year ROI. With only 10 months of CTP experience under its belt, it may be too soon to tell, but Richards believes the commercial printer will easily meet that goal.

“If you have knowledge about the CTP system—and the passion to use it—you’ll be successful,” she concludes.

No Turning Back
H.C. Miller, a commercial printing operation in Milwaukee, jumped into computer-to-plate with both feet and didn’t look back.

So say company execs who invested in CTP in June 1997 to help expand a product from its Green Bay facility to its Milwaukee plant.

Like most printers using conventional plates, H.C. Miller found stripping and imposing film to be a labor-intensive, time-consuming, registration-evasive process. General Manager Ron Demske says his prepress area had already made the transition to a digital workflow, so moving to CTP was “fairly easy after learning the ins and outs of working with electronic files.”

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