Poor Man's CTP Rich in Benefits
Once but a dream, CTP has become an essential element at even small in-plants. Here's one manager's story.
By Jim Sabulski
Years ago I found it hard to believe I would see the day when everyone had a personal computer. Some time later, using the same logic, I doubted that all print shops were going to have computer-to-plate (CTP) systems. I thought it would be reserved for the large-format shops that could afford it. You see now why I am a printer and not a prognosticator.
Not unlike at many small in-plants, the majority of offset work produced in College Misericordia's in-plant is one- and two-color line work. For more than 12 years, metal plates were produced using diffusion transfer technology. Although the plates were capable of producing upwards of 50,000 impressions, consistent results were difficult to achieve, depending on the quality of the hard copy, the life of the developer and the exposure time settings.
Jobs that contained halftones, screens and/or tight two-color registration required film, which we would outsource. Conventional stripping of these negatives would follow, and we would burn negative-acting plates in-house on a small NuArc plate burner.
Then one day we were informed by our supplier that diffusion transfer plates and chemicals were becoming scarce and that a time would soon come when they were simply obsolete. Not only were we forced to find an alternative method of producing plates in-house but the clock was ticking.
Fortunately, manufacturers were offering small-format CTP options more so than ever before. Even so, the move to CTP was a cautious one. It didn't take much research, though, to realize that polyester CTP was our most affordable option.
Taking the Plunge
We asked several vendors to supply us with imaged plates that we could test on our presses. In 2004, after a number of experiments, we purchased a Kimosetter 340 from Kimoto Tech and its corresponding RIP. Influencing the decision most was a low startup cost (about $3500.00), an environmentally friendly chemical-free workflow and the fact that the unit uses a thermal transfer ribbon instead of toner to image the plate. This eliminated the problem of toner scatter during the imaging process and toner flaking while on the press.