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What’s The Difference In The Technologies Of CTP Plate ?
Mar 20, 2018

Since violet and thermal are currently the major players in the CTP market I will focus primarily on them. Both Violet and Thermal use laser diodes to transfer the image onto the plate. The difference in the two types of lasers are the color of the laser and the wavelength of the light they emit. Violet has less lasers than a thermal machine and because of this has a lower acquisition cost. If you compare the quality of a violet and a thermal system, you would see that the thermal system can produce better quality than a violet system can. A thermal system can produce line screens exceeding 300lpi, whereas a violet system maxes out at 300lpi. That said, anything over 300lpi is actually overkill on the vast majority of projects.

Due to the fewer number of lasers in the machine, violet plates are light sensitive. This requires either a safelight environment (typically a yellow light) or the auto-load option that most manufacturers have can be used. Conversely, thermal plates can be used in normal daylight conditions.

As to speed of production, violet produces plates faster, but thermal machine manufacturers are trying to cut the time gap with their newer technology. It seems odd though that speed would be a major factor here because compared to the old CTF process, thermal is still much faster.

On the press, a violet plate run length is over 100,000 impressions. Thermal plates have a higher run rate which approaches 200,000 to 400,000. You can optionally increase the run length of a thermal plate by baking it. This option is for those times when you want to increase the run length to 1 million or more impressions.

If you are concerned about the maintenance cost of the equipment, a violet platesetter costs less to maintain than thermal a platesetter.

As for speed of production on ink jet and poly plate systems, it depends. Actually if we were to include violet and thermal into the mix, you could say that any of them could produce 20 – 120 plates per hour depending upon the manufacturer of the equipment, the strength of the laser, and the plate being used.