DIGITAL PLATE TECHNOLOGY -- Platemaking Loses a Step
All of the plate manufacturers seem to see small- to mid-size printers as the primary target market, at least for the current generation of plates. The obvious reason is, while a few of the near-processless products claim to support run lengths of up to 100,000 impressions, most of the plates are rated for far fewer impressions.
In addition, users can expect to pay a premium for these products compared to other digital plates due to the newness of the technology and limited production. Smaller shops are considered more likely to be willing to make this tradeoff for the simpler operation and space savings. They are less likely, on a percentage basis, to already have a CTP solution in place that would have to be replaced in part or as a whole, thereby adding to the cost of adoption.
Printers that do feel processless plates are a fit with their operations now have several solutions to choose from, and that number should grow to almost a dozen plates in the near term.
Presstek's primary CTP plate offerings continue to be its Applause and Anthem thermal ablative products, both rated for up to 100,000 impressions. Applause addresses what were widely viewed as shortcomings in the older Anthem product, including the need for a robust debris removal system in the platesetter and a water cleaning step after imaging.
The company has introduced upgraded models in its platesetter line, called Dimensional Excel, that are capable of imaging the plates at a 300 lpi resolution with a 16-micron spot size to support stochastic screening options.
In addition, Presstek had previously teamed up with A.B.Dick to offer the Freedom thermal plate material. It is said to use a chemistry-free, "sub-ablative" process that requires no debris removal system in the platesetter. The image area is revealed by a special water wash unit and supports up to 25,000 impressions.