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Why Buy an Imagesetter?

November 1998
Existing in a market that's changing almost as rapidly as is the market of its competitive counterpart, today's imagesetter is showing that delivering PDF performance and end-to-end productivity isn't purely the direction of the digital platesetter.


BY MARIE RANOIA ALONSO


With all the talk about the digital platesetter, the imagesetter is often overlooked. Should an investment even be made in an imagesetter when so much enthusiasm and technology are being placed in the conventional and thermal CTP direction? Does the imagesetter still remain a staple, smart investment for prepress environments poised for eventual full-tilt digital workflows?

Make no mistake.

The answer is YES.

Imagesetting systems are logical, savvy steps to make on the eventual road to a computer-to-plate environment. Today's imagesetters answer a variety of workflow questions and productivity demands, while employing high-tech automation to change the direction of a more mundane prepress environment.

Recent imagesetter launches from prepress vendors the likes of Fujifilm and Screen (USA) continue to illustrate that the very forces driving CTP prepress technologies are not exactly steering away from the ever-faithful imagesetter.

In fact, during the past year, the imagesetter market has seen nothing short of a remarkable commitment—from Agfa's Avantra family to ECRM's Mako to Purup-Eskofot's Maestro to Scitex's Dolev family. Ultre, the capstan division of Heidelberg Prepress, is continuing to launch new products as well. Heidelberg Prepress, beyond its Ultre technology, is itself focusing on the imagesetter, with strong marketing power currently going to its eight-up Signasetter and its new flagship imagesetter for the four-up market, the Herkules Elite with Delta-Technology 4.2.

Why? Quite simply, while direct-to technologies are rapidly increasing in popularity and implementation, there are and will continue to be significant numbers of commercial printing operations for which CTP and direct-to-press are not yet cost-effective, realistic options. Despite all the hoopla about the dissolution of film in commercial printing, there is still a healthy number of printers that rely on film imagesetters—and plan to remain loyal to these output devices for the next several years.

For these printers, the mission is to produce high-quality work with imagesetting devices that offer speed, strong RIPs, flexibility and a host of hot button trends, ranging from Adobe PostScript Level 2 and Level 3 compatibility and Adobe PDF support to a plethora of eight-up output options.

"Imagesetter sales were supposed to be close to nothing by now, if we were to listen to futuristic expectations touted at DRUPA years ago," states Stan Najmr, product line marketing manager at Scitex America. "Today, Scitex is selling more eight-up imagesetters than ever, plus launching new imagesetting enhancements."
 

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