DIGITAL PLATES -- Covering the Spectrum
The number of variables makes it difficult to back up any blanket statement about the cost advantages of one technology over another. Exceptions to the rule usually can be found, and other considerations can outweigh costs. In addition, competition tends to put pressure on pricing, so any cost advantage may be short lived.
Regardless of the imaging technology, one concern that continues to dog the adoption of CTP is the availability of plates. Actually, there are two parts to this issue—intentional and unintentional supply restrictions.
In the digital plate arena, manufacturers have tended to preview, or even formally introduce, new products long before they go into commercial production. A number of plates were shown at DRUPA 2000 that have yet to be fully commercialized, and some still haven't even been given formal product names.
Online discussion forums have become a particular rich source of information about ongoing technology developments, but these reports from the bleeding edge often don't reflect the product options open to mainstream users. To help clarify matters, here's an update on the status of some digital plates that are getting talked about, but have yet to be commercialized:
- Agfa categorizes its Mistral processless plate as being in "controlled sales," with no announced timetable for full commercialization.
- Citiplate recently has said it will formally announce two new plate lines later in 2001. The Aqua Violet plate will be a silverless, photopolymer product that can be imaged with a 30mW laser diode. Aqua Thermal plates reportedly will be offered in negative- and positive-working versions with 830nm sensitivity.
- Fujifilm's thermal processless and violet plates reportedly are still undergoing evaluation in its R&D facility.
- Kodak Polychrome Graphics' Thermal No-process and Thermal Waterless plates are both still in beta testing.
- Mitsubishi Chemical (Western Lithotech) was expecting to begin placements of it DiamondPlate LV-1 violet-sensitive, photopolymer plate by the time this article is in print.