PRINT 05 PREPRESS WORKFLOW & CTP -- Streamlining the Prepress Process
All of the new plate technologies are characterized as non-ablative, but that doesn't mean absolutely no "debris" is released during exposure. The majority of platesetters in use were designed to handle a level of debris, but this can be an issue for earlier generation devices.
In some cases, whether or not the product really is widely available for commercial use still can be an issue.
Agfa announced that its Azura chemistry-free thermal plate system is already in use at more than 300 printing and prepress sites around the world. Along with the manufacturer's own platesetters, the list of devices imaging the plate is said to include the Screen PlateRite, Creo Trendsetter and Lotem, and Heidelberg Topsetter and Suprasetter. There can be some productivity hit compared to conventional digital plates, and a "clean out" step is required after exposure.
A similar plate technology was unveiled by Heidelberg at PRINT 05, which it expected to start selling this month. The Saphira Chemfree thermal plate is targeted for use in Heidelberg Suprasetters, Topsetters and Trendsetters. It is a traditional aluminum-grained printing plate and requires a gumming step after exposure.
Kodak says its Thermal Direct no-process plate is now available worldwide. It reportedly is compatible with all "popular" thermal imagers and features a traditional grained and anodized aluminum substrate, so it is a true "drop in" product. Plates are made ready to print by the action of the fountain solution on-press.
Enovation showed a thermal processless plate, provisionally called the Fujifilm Brillia HD PRO-T, that it says maintains production speeds because it only requires an imaging power similar to existing Fujifilm thermal CTP plates. The product is projected to be available in the first quarter of 2006.
Fujifilm was one of two platemakers to talk about a version of this technology for violet imaging applications. As a technology demonstration, it showed the chemistry-free Brillia HD PRO-V (provisional name) violet photopolymer plate. The company says further product development is dependent on commercial availability of high-power violet laser technology, and it is targeting 2007 for a roll out.