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CTP Plate

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The Breakthrough Of Computer To Plate At Drupa 1995 Versus The Automated CtP Systems Of Drupa 2016
Mar 22, 2018

Drupa 1995 was the definitive breakthrough of computer to plate as replacement of the labour intensive platemaking with film. After the first small steps since 1990 drupa 1995 featured professional CtP systems from suppliers such as Agfa, Autologic, Cymbolic Science, Purup, Barco, Crea, ECRM, AM Varityper and Western Litho. Together they showed more than 50 different CtP systems. Systems which varied in the application of the light source and the plate positioning. Every kind of laser and even halogen light were used and flatbed and internal or external plate imagers.

Where the first CtP systems used expensive YAG laser which, with its green, 532 nanometer lightsource, drupa 1995 now showed blue gas lasers. These blue gas lasers turned out to be a mistake. They often could not work for more than 1,000 hours and were the quality was not consistent for day-to-day use. These two types of laser were soon replaced by the violet laser diodes which are now common in CtP systems.

The first ´real´ CtP plates
Agfa Lithostar Ultra LAP-VIn 1993 Agfa introduced the first real CtP plate, the Lithostar. This plate made sure that Agfa became market leader after they acquired plate Kalle/Hoegst in 1998. Agfa´s success was soon copied by manufacturers such as Kodak and Fuji. These first CtP plates had their own issues. They often were not able to fulfil their specifications and sometimes damaged the top layer during the process. Even more important, the development process was inefficient and not environmentally friendly. These two problems ended when new types of CtP plates such as the Trendsetter 3244 by CtP pioneer Creo. Presstek, manufacturer of the imaging module such as used in the famous Heidelberg GTO DI, developed a plate which could be cleaned with water only. All those plates have now been replaced by chemical free plates by market leaders Agfa, Kodak and Fuiji. These manufacturers will show the new generation of CtP plates during drupa.

Plates with short imaging time for high runlenght numbers, even without baking. The improved image quality and shorter production times are a great weapon for any offset printer in the battle for competition. The improved resolutions of the plates, in combination with new raster technology ensure a high standard for quality printing.

Digital workflow the missing link
PrintCentral OPILarge format image setters equipped with a Postscript RIP were the reason that CtP had to search for a complete digital workflow. This search resulted in the advanced and automated pre-press systems which Agfa, Kodak, Screen and EFI will show at drupa 2016. Whilst the image setter output tolerated small mistakes and changing the film made last minute changes possible, CtP is ruthless. One mistake means that the plate has to be redone. The cost and time of this is prohibitive. A solution for this is a digital workflow which minimises the changes of mistakes. That was the missing link in 1993. Attempts at solutions were made with mini computers as image servers, hot folders and the first automation solutions by Aldus ColorCentral. At drupa 1995 our AM Europe stand showed the first digital workflow which really worked. It was designed by Freddy Cluckers and his team and automated pre-press for big companies such as Roularta. That was the start of the digital workflow systems we will see at drupa 2016. Systems which not only streamline CtP production, but also manage the acquisition of orders via Web2Print, compile big data through marketing modules and manage orders, from offer to invoice, with management information modules.