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Thermal CTP's Next 100 Days

April 1998
Pull up a chair! Welcome to Printing Impressions' round-table discussion of the status, the direction and the promise of thermal computer-to-plate (CTP).

Technology providers, ranging from thermal CTP's marketing-savvy pioneer Creo Products—whose campaign with Kodak ignited the industry's thermal frenzy—to an array of other world-class thermal technology suppliers, will debate the merits of thermal CTP today, address the technology's weaknesses on the consumables front and wager predictions for thermal CTP's next 100 days.

Where do you think thermal CTP is headed, and when will your organization reap its full, processless potential? Time will tell. For now, let's join the discussion . . .

When the conversation turns to thermal CTP, few industry insiders have little to say. Opinions vary, viewpoints greatly contrast and predictions are as numerous as the expanding array of thermal plate options themselves. Where is thermal CTP going?

Sandy Fuhs, marketing manager and thermal CTP industry watcher at Presstek, starts the discussion.

"Many people in the industry feel that thermal is the future technological direction for CTP. Presstek has always been dedicated to thermal plate and imaging technologies. Our company was founded on this technology and continues to develop thermal lasers, imagers and enhancements to thermal plates," Fuhs reports.

What's up at Presstek? Its most recent consumables contribution is PEARLgold, a process-free, metal-based thermal plate designed for two-, four- and eight-page presses.

Presstek's development and customer support efforts have also revealed, through market surveys and feedback, that end users want the ability to purchase both the CTP device and the thermal plates individually, based on their own set of attributes. In response, Presstek has established a series of programs to certify its plates on other manufacturers' thermal CTP imagers, and currently the company is testing commercially available plates on its PEARLsetters.

OK, Sandy, here's a thought. Is the thermal platesetter the cornerstone of processless thermal CTP? Or is it the plate? What can we continue to expect from technology providers? More enhancements to platesetters? More performance from an even wider spectrum of thermal printing plates?

"Wow—great questions," Fuhs replies. "I'm tempted to just say...yes. Presstek has made a major investment in thermal plate manufacturing by building a new, multi-million facility with a new type of plate coating line, unlike any other. This should assist us in offering less costly plates due to higher yields, streamlined processes and increased levels of quality control. This could be a major advancement toward mass acceptance of process-free thermal use."
 

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