Thermal CTP's Next 100 Days
"Wow—great questions," Fuhs replies. "I'm tempted to just say...yes. Presstek has made a major investment in thermal plate manufacturing by building a new, multi-million facility with a new type of plate coating line, unlike any other. This should assist us in offering less costly plates due to higher yields, streamlined processes and increased levels of quality control. This could be a major advancement toward mass acceptance of process-free thermal use."
The Round Table
Creo—with nearly 200 thermal imaging device installations worldwide—remains the current leader among thermal equipment suppliers. Creo's connection to Heidelberg, too, only increases the Vancouver, Canada-based thermal technology innovator's Trendsetter marketing power.
Here's Creo view on processless thermal CTP—its potential and the thermal plate. "Many people refer to processless plates as the real benefit of thermal; this is not the case," asserts Creo President Dan Gelbert. "Even after processless plates will be commonplace, perhaps by 1999, there will be a need for processed thermal plates."
Why does Creo take this stance? The main reason is that some applications, such as long runs, UV inks and abrasive substrates, require post-baked plates. Processless thermal plates, by definition, cannot be post-baked, Gelbert explains.
"The new generation of thermal plates coming to the market, such as Horsell Electra DC, Kodak IRx, Fuji Brillia LH-P and Agfa Thermostar, require such simple and conventional processing that it is no longer a large factor," Gelbert suggests. "A point to keep in mind: Any processless plate reduces the cost of ownership of a CTP device, not only by saving on a processor and chemicals, but by eliminating the automation needed to take the plate from CTP to the processor."
At Agfa Div., Bayer Corp., the current status and future direction of thermal CTP appears bright. Stay tuned for enhancements to Agfa's Galileo digital platesetter and Agfa's Thermostar thermal plate offering, not to mention a strong marketing of DuPont thermal plate innovations, now under Agfa's belt.