CTP Make an Informed Decision
Computer-to-plate systems have dropped in price and jumped in quality. Take a look at the different systems on the market.
By Bob Atkinson
Computer-to-plate (CTP) technologies have been the norm at large print shops and newspapers for almost a decade. In the past few years, though, competition and new technologies have driven the cost of both CTP equipment and consumables down to the point where they're affordable and practical to any departmental or in-plant shop.
In fact, if you use just 250 square feet of plate material per month—that's about 145 13x19˝ plates or 62 20x29˝ plates, for example—you'll find that the cost numbers work. The higher your plate volume, the more you'll save per month and the faster you'll amortize the hardware purchase.
A few CTP benefits:
• 20-30 percent lower total plate cost
• 40-60 percent less total time to produce a plate
• A cleaner, sharper dot
• Better registration/faster make-ready
• Less equipment, floor space, power consumption
• Optional chemistry-free workflow
A PIA/GATF survey from mid-2005 cites competition/pricing/productivity as by far the biggest concerns among U.S. print shops. CTP vendors agree that their technology is an important step to remaining cost-effective.
"Whether you're a commercial printer or an in-plant producer, you need to be a low-cost producer," says John O'Rourke, director of marketing for CTP at Presstek. "You have to look at production costs, the efficiency and productivity of your operation versus your overhead. This is a major consideration when looking towards CTP, and which system is best for you."
Over at Xanté, Tom FitzSimons is also focusing on productivity with the company's PlateMaker 4 and Impressia two-up platesetters.
"Depending on file sizes, the rating for our our systems is up to 60 plates per hour," he says, "and when you couple that with a press like the [Heidelberg] QM-46, which does the auto plate insertion, that's a very productive shop."