The Great (Digital) Plate Debate
Mitsubishi has spent the past six years demonstrating its polyester products, and dispelling the taboo in due process. Troll says printers have heard about polyester's good quality, and they are asking dealers for the material. And they're asking if their presses can run the plates, he adds, so there is new interest from press manufacturers to accommodate polyester plates.
"We're not promoting a new polyester product; we're trying to break into new markets with existing products and our DPX system, which has been a good part of our success because of the platesetter's on-line punching and registration on-press. Specifically, we've been pursuing the four-color, short-run, two-up market that, up until a few years ago, would rarely consider printing with polyester."
Attitudes are clearly changing about polyester. The material is now capable of printing 175 line screens and four-color process work. "And," he says, "printers can make money doing it!"
But, in order to make money, the printer first has to learn how to properly handle this unusual, unfamiliar (oh taboo!) polyester plate. Mitsubishi has technical and pressroom support teams that can make the plate run on-press, and can teach press operators how to do it, too. And in the end, according to Troll, it is the press operator's ability that will determine whether the polyester plate will succeed or not.
"In the past five years, there's been a boom in the use of direct-to-polyester plates by small commercial printers," says Stewart Gallup, product manager of digital systems at ABDick. "It allows them to get high-quality output faster, and at a lower cost, than with traditional plates. The print quality of a polyester plate as compared to metal is almost identical at this level of printing, so the benefit is not only having the same quality level, but higher throughput and the ability to turn jobs around faster."