The Great (Digital) Plate Debate
"At the same time, we are committed to Thermal CTP," says Mike Yatsko, conventional plate marketing manager, for the US and Canada. "We also recognize that there are many of our customers who have not yet made the move to CTP, and still use a conventional workflow. We continue to improve our conventional plate portfolio, through enhancements to speed, spectral sensitivity and on-press latitude."
Will Visible Light Fade Away?
"People thought visible light would fade away, that thermal is the only plate technology that will be here long-term. But DRUPA shows differently," states Ben Butera, Fujifilm's assistant product development manager for plates. The next generation of visible light plates has been improved, he says. They provide greater highlight, as well as dot durability and improved chemical resistance on-press.
"Fuji believes that visible light CTP, or high-speed photopolymer, still has a future in the market," Butera adds, noting that the release of Fuji's new imagesetter, the Luxel, is evidence of that belief and financial investment in visible light plate technology.
Also, second-generation no-bake plates are attracting a lot of interest lately, he remarks, and sales are "really starting to take off." Traditional no-bake plates required post-baking to improve runlength and chemical resistance on-press, he explains, noting that after so many impressions, the plate's image weakened and had to be re-baked. However, with the advent of "true" no-bake plates (which were released earlier this year and have gained sales momentum), at least 300,000 impressions can now be achieved without any baking, whether pre or post.
Also, he reports that existing no-bake plates require pre-baking in order to achieve good chemical resistance on press, so the elimination of the pre-bake step in second-generation visible-light technologies is a significant advancement.
Printers are buying these "true" no-bake plates because "they want to get rid of their ovens," Butera adds. "No-bake plates are also a natural choice for smaller sheetfed printers who tend not to have the floorspace for ovens (not including a gum rinse unit, in some cases, as well). Also, when the oven is eliminated, so is the electricity needed to run it, as well as the air conditioning that is required to quickly cool the room back down to its normal temperatures. Those reasons alone are compelling enough for printers to consider no-bake plates."