CTP--Still Testing the Waters
"Printers, like most people, are resistant to change. Consequently, the most successful processless product will be one that most resembles current workflow habits—and will therefore be adopted at the highest rate," Crawford suggests.
Scott Ralph, prepress director at Phoenix Color, thinks thermal consumables are moving in the right direction—fast. "At GRAPH EXPO 98, almost every major plate vendor showed a thermal plate. I found this to be a very good sign that thermal is being accepted by the major players," Ralph reports.
At present, Phoenix Color is running two Creo Trendsetters. "The exciting news for us is that, beginning early this year, we will be moving to the Fuji positive thermal plate, which requires no baking," Ralph states.
"As for the benefits of thermal," Ralph continues, "I will name a few: no red-light environment, soon to be no baking, and more reliability and consistency."
How could thermal CTP be better? Ralph has one suggestion. "I believe thermal CTP costs to be almost on par currently. But with the additional vendors shipping thermal plates," Ralph says with optimism, "I hope plate prices fall in '99."
Heidelberg Prepress on Thermal Imaging Consistency
Ray Cassino, CTP product manager at Heidelberg Prepress, offers a five-star review of thermal imaging technology as 1999 takes shape.
Thermal imaging offers superior quality. The core technology gives consistency. It is a very consistent, stable product, so by its very nature, normal process changes will not change the result on-plate. If the developer gets hot, if you give too much heat or if the environment changes, you still get the same, consistent, repeatable output.
Thermal CTP offers flexibility. It allows a prepress environment to expose four different types of media—film, plates, MatchPrint and thermal Digital Dylux—thus decreasing costs. In general, thermal imaging opens CTP to bigger markets, to small- and mid-size printers that can now offer more service with just one machine.