CTP--The Digital DRUPA
Based on these criteria, Creo has performed a thorough analysis of the opportunity presented by blue-violet laser technologies. While we believe that there is no single, blanket CTP solution for everyone, our conclusions confirm our commitment to thermal technology as the solution that provides the greatest efficiencies and best investment value to our customers.
Thermal technology is the only process capable of imaging the entire range of materials used by printers and trade shops: offset plates, processless plates, dry (waterless) plates, proofing media, film and flexographic media.
It is clear to us that the future of CTP lies in a combination of thermal imaging technology and thermal processless plates, which will deliver significant economic benefits to printers and trade shops alike.
This is underscored by the fact that several vendors once offered blue laser CTP and most of them have since switched to thermal technology. It is further evidenced by the fact that 830nm thermal plates have become the most widely available CTP plates on the market—with multiple vendors selling a broad variety of plates in record volumes.
Consider the Plate Processor
We acknowledge that, in the future, blue-violet systems may be able to expose visible light-sensitive photopolymer plates. In the more distant future, they may even be able to expose high-speed photopolymer plates. However, both of these plate technologies have inherently lower resolution than thermal plates.
Blue-violet laser systems do not image the conventional types of plates that are currently in use. Instead, they require special high-sensitivity plates, which are processed after imaging. As a result, when considering an investment in a blue-violet laser CTP system, customers should be sure to incorporate the cost of a plate-processing unit and the environmental controls associated with it.
By eliminating processor chemicals and service, processless thermal plate technology reduces facility floor-space requirements, decreases the environmental impact of production and helps keep operating costs down. Removing the plate-processing step also supports better process control and cuts the time necessary to produce plates—the first time around and for remakes, if required.