The Great (Digital) Plate Debate
Dainton says that printers using single workflow, silverless UV CTP are reporting plate cost-savings averaging 25 percent to 75 percent, compared to other CTP methods that require a dual workflow.
"Not only are high-performance UV plates much more economical than thermal and visible light CTP plates," he says, "but because they do not contain silver, silverless UV plates offer an affordable, dual-purpose CTP and film-based solution that does not necessitate extended handling, expensive plate processing lines and significant chemical and waste disposal issues."
As word of silverless UV CTP spreads, "single vs. dual workflow" and "consumable economics" are sure to become key issues in the continuing great digital plate debate.
The Plate is The Thing
For CTP or film-based workflows, the quality of the plate is key. At DRUPA last month, the leading plate developers showcased the latest and greatest in plates, including the following.
Anthem plate: Wet offset thermal plate prints from a grained, anodized aluminum surface, allowing for compatibility with a broad range of press fountain solutions and inks. It delivers a runlength of 100,000 impressions and requires no pre-heating equipment and no chemical-based pro-cessors or post-development baking ovens.
Mistral: a dry, no-process plate providing maximum quality and high run lengths. Based on advanced thermal-ablative technology, which allows plates to be imaged and ready for the press in minutes (without chemical processing), Mistral is capable of screen rulings of 300 lpi and higher.
Thermolite: For short-run, on- and off-press thermal imaging. Agfa took a conventional aluminum substrate technology and put a thermally sensitive coating on top of it. The image is formed through thermal exposure of the emulsion and Thermolite is developed on-press. The plate has the dampening properties of a conventional aluminum plate; no porous coating on top of the aluminum as the water-carrying layer.