Two-up Metal Platesetters — The CTP Periphery

“These findings are significant in dispelling outdated stories about plate stretch, inability to register, plates flying off the press because they would not properly lockup and a variety of other performance-related problems,” notes the study summary. “Many of the performance negatives about polyester plates may have been true at one time but, today, those stories are unfounded. These old tales have inhibited the penetration of polyester plates into the markets that could best use the technology.”

And yet the technology remained behind the eight ball in the eyes of the majority of commercial printers, Lamparter acknowledges. “There really are two sides to the story,” he says. “A huge number of printers do revolt when you say polyester, but there also is an installed base of dedicated computer-to-poly-plate systems that rivals—if not exceeds—the number for metal CTP systems.”

Even though these devices are successfully meeting the needs of printers at the low end of the market, Lamparter says he still hasn’t seen any significant change in the industry’s opinion of polyester plates. “Polyester could go a lot further, but it’s under-marketed,” he points out. “One thing the technology has going for it: you can show that CTPoly is cheaper.”

The prices for scaled down two-page metal CTP systems may be significantly less than those of their big brothers (four- and eight-page models), but the investment still is more than what owners of two-up shops are likely to want to make, according to Lamparter. Getting financing can also be an issue. “Any time these printers have a buck to spare they’d rather buy a press or a color copier, since they can sell the output,” the consultant adds.

Total cost of ownership is a phrase that gets tossed around a lot in discussions about CTP adoption. Performance on-press is a key factor in the equation. Whether there are actual differences in the performance of polyester and metal plates or not, the attitude of the press operator can be its own cost. As Lamparter noted earlier, press operators on the whole still love metal.

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