ON-PRESS IMAGING -- Firing on All Cylinders
Format for Success
Stan Najmr, director of DI marketing at Presstek, in Hudson, NH, comes at the question from a slightly different perspective, but offers a similar assessment that DI's advantages stem from its streamlining of the process.
"DI systems offer all the benefits of CTP, plus fully automated, in-register printing with extremely short makeready times," Najmr asserts. "All of this process automation provides users with a short learning curve and fast entry into the high-quality, on-demand, four-color printing market."
It's a mistake to view a direct imaging press as just an existing press to which laser imaging kits have been added, Najmr says. "Printers have to evaluate the productivity of the complete system compared to a conventional workflow. In order to get maximum benefit from a direct imaging press, you have to integrate four main components: spooled digital imaging media, laser imaging heads, a unique press design (V-shape cylinder configuration) and the digital front end."
Since the typical DI press uses spooled media that is fed automatic-ally and can image all colors at once in about three minutes, there's no way plates can be produced off-line and then hung on a press in a similar time frame, Najmr points out.
In most of the cases, the entire digital imaging kit for a press—lasers, digital controls and cleaning systems—costs less than a comparable CTP device, adds the marketing director. The resulting cost structure for short-run production, combined with the marketing potential of quick turnaround, results in higher margins, he says.
Even given these advantages, Najmr asks, what if a printer already has a conventional press and can't afford to obsolete it? "In the short-term, CTP systems will be successful for that reason," he says. "However, over the next five to 10 years, DI presses—complemented by toner-based digital printers—will become the industry standard. It just makes economic sense."