Significant advances in plate technology and CTP setters have enabled prepress to keep pace with fast new presses and perfecting lines
Eliminating the bottleneck between slow-moving plate production and speedy presses is a step towards greater productivity.
Meanwhile, plates have come a long way – sharper dots, greater durability and more flexibility with specialty paper stocks. And all of it comes wrapped in a cleaner, greener package nowadays, with chemistry-free and processless plates becoming common, and even those plates that use chemistry are not using the toxic stuff that was still commonplace a decade ago.
Productive plate setters
Productivity in prepress comes to the fore with Heidelberg’s Suprasetter plate setter, says Dierk Wissmann, HANZ’s CTP and workflow product manager, starting with its plug-and-play functionality – the Suprasetter arrives pre-installed and ready to use. The laser head, designed by Heidelberg engineers, is built for long life and comes with a seven-year warranty. There is inbuilt temperature control to ensure a stable environment, which makes Suprasetter popular in rural locations and tropical climates.
Suprasetter has low energy consumption, meeting environmental concerns and reducing operational costs. Every Suprasetter is delivered with a CO2-neutral certificate confirming that Heidelberg has offset the carbon used in manufacture of the unit, says Wissmann. The machines are field-upgradable and feature unattended operation.
“They require minimum maintenance, as the units self-check each day when they are turned on. For the rare occasions when there is a problem, Heidelberg’s engineers can remotely access the machine to make a diagnosis, ensuring minimum downtime,” he says.
The popular Suprasetter A75, for the A2/B2 market, comes in various configurations, including Automatic Top Loader and Dual Top Loader for high volumes. It produces plates at 2540dpi up to 5080dpi for special applications such as stamps and security printing. “The A75 runs on low power consumption,” emphasises Wissman, “using only five watts on standby and 550 watts on average when imaging.”
Screen has introduced its new PlateRite PT-R4600 4-up plate setter with fibre LEDs for sharper, higher-definition plate imaging. A speedier Z model is capable of 33 plates per hour at 2400dpi. Screen Australia’s managing director Peter Scott sees the new setters as more environmentally friendly in terms of power consumption. In Eco mode, power consumption is reduced by between 74-83 per cent while idling. Main power supply is down from 20Amps/4.0kW to 15Amps/3.6kW but despite this, the laser power is up 13 per cent, ‘making the PT-R4600 ideal for low-sensitivity processless plates such as Fujifilm Brillia Pro-T and Agfa Azura TS/TU,’ says Scott.
Three models comprise the PT-R4600 series, designated E, S and Z. Productivity is 11, 21 and 33 plates per hour respectively. Another saving for B2 printers is that the optional ‘bridge’ to connect the CTP setter to a processor is now built-in.
Steve Peck, project and marketing manager, graphic systems at Fujifilm, says the vendor offers two lines of CTP systems: the compact A1 and B2 Suprasetters from Heidelberg, and the PlateRite PTR systems manufactured by Screen. Fujifilm XMF workflows power all of its output devices and is designed to meet the production demands of sheetfed, web and digital printing, bringing together Fujifilm’s expertise in colour, imposition and workflow production.
“Companies are able to run CTP equipment over multiple shifts to allow more production output and CTP devices are still developing and becoming faster and faster,” he says.