DIGITAL PLATESETTERS -- Growing by Twos and Fours
Presstek also offers the Dimension 200, which handles plates sizes from 9.448x9.448˝ up to 20x21˝. The Dimension 400's maximum plate size is 26.771x30.708˝. Both offer a 2,540-dpi imaging resolution and are engineered to image Presstek's chemistry-free, thermal-ablative plates in a daylight-safe operation.
At Graph Expo 2003, Presstek and A.B.Dick announced an OEM partnership to introduce a new CTP system—the Vector 52 two-page (20x21˝) metal platesetter and Freedom chemistry-free, thermal plates.
The platesetter features a 2,540-dpi resolution and semi-automatic plate loading. The plates are designed for run lengths of less than 25,000 impressions and reportedly use a chemistry-free, "sub-ablative" process that requires no debris removal system in the platesetter. The image is revealed by a special water wash unit.
Like some of the other companies already profiled, Dallas-based MetroWeb settled on a plate first in making the move to digital production, says Roderick Bentham, preproduction operations manager. "We were looking for a plate that we also could still expose conventionally from film, so we wouldn't need to have two different processors when we added the platesetter," he explains.
Going for the Gold
The printer ended up switching to the Thermal Gold plate from Kodak Polychrome Graphics about two years ago but, for internal reasons, didn't install a platesetter until March of 2003. "We run UV inks on all of our presses, which is very hard on plates, so we were looking for a sturdy product," Bentham says. "That is a big part of what drove us to thermal technology."
MetroWeb ultimately decided to install a PlateRite 4300 thermal platesetter from Screen (USA). Since the 65-employee shop doesn't staff its prepress department 24/7, automation was a primary factor, Bentham reports.
"We opted for the configuration with a multi-format, multi-cassette MA-L autoloader," he says. "It will hold three different plate sizes and automatically load the appropriate format for the job. All four of our presses are Didde VIP variable webs (to support direct mail and statement printing), so we regularly run four different plate sizes. If we preload the sizes they are going to be running, our night shift and weekend supervisors are able to make their own plates."