The Great (Digital) Plate Debate
A Breakthrough Alternative
Ultraviolet shone brightly among CTP platesetting solutions offered at DRUPA 2000, where printers saw new UV laser platesetters, violet (UV) laser diode platesetters and mercury lamp UV platesetters (from two-up to 32-pages in size) shown by no fewer than 10 companies. But, with so many new UV platesetting engines emerging, what kind of UV-sensitive plates will they make?
All those just-introduced UV CTP platesetters are clear evidence that a technological explosion is happening in CTP, according to Robert Dainton, technical director at Citiplate, which manufactures an extensive line of high-performance UV-sensitive aluminum offset plates. These seem to be the right plate products at the right time: Breakthroughs in UV lasers, violet laser diodes and UV light-modulating technology are bringing a flood of new UV platesetters to market.
"The industry is observing the arrival of UV CTP workflow," Dainton says, "and it's silverless. It's the newest CTP alternative; one offering superior economic advantages for printers." He explains that silverless UV CTP alone economically achieves the same UV-sensitive plate type, whether digitally or with film. Compared to all other forms of CTP, he says, "silverless UV CTP has a simpler workflow, uses fewer and lower-cost consumables, requires less equipment investment and occupies much less floorspace."
Silverless UV CTP has a unique 'single workflow' and a major economic advantage, Dainton asserts. "Most printers have a mix of digital and film-based jobs," he says. "Using other forms of CTP, a printer is required to have a costly 'dual workflow,' whereby a digital stream and a film-based stream separately produce special and UV plates through different processing lines. This workflow model has poor economics, so printers who use it find it impacts their profitability."
"But," he continues, "silverless UV CTP has a 'single workflow' model with quite superior economics. It adds a UV CTP platesetter to the film-based UV platemaking stream most printers now use. Our high-performance UV plates can be used in both streams, for all digital or film-based platemaking, under bright-light handling and with one environmentally friendly, aqueous-based processing line. The cost-savings of using a single, high-performance UV plate type for all jobs—digital or film-based—are quite dramatic."