Having an in-house CtP platesetter is increasingly necessary to stay competitive as an offset printer.
Computer-to-Plate is a fully mature, mainstream technology. It’s stable, more efficient and offers a higher quality output than film-based plate production. Your competition has already lowered their costs, streamlined their production and shortened the time it takes to deliver a completed job by investing in CtP equipment. Increasingly, going direct-to-plate with an in-house system will be a requirement to stay competitive as an offset printer.
Over the past two decades, the majority of offset printers have successfully and profitably transitioned to computer-to-plate. During that time, customers have come to expect faster delivery and a higher quality product. The printing industry has seen more full-color orders, shorter print runs, and jobs submitted in native digital formats. With the exception of a few specialty cases, the arguments for moving from CtF to CtP are highly compelling. Overall, there is very little reason not to adopt this cost saving technology.
Service and consumables for CtF equipment are becoming increasingly difficult to source.
Most available film-based imagesetters are currently over 15 years old. Very few companies still manufacture new CtF equipment. Imagesetter film, processors, and chemistry are becoming increasingly difficult to source as more companies discontinue their film-based product lines. Since most printers have transitioned to CtP, there are fewer companies that offer service or replacement parts for CtF imagesetters. With less available support, using film can put your business in a highly vulnerable position in the very likely case of equipment failure.
Advantages of CtP:
CtP plates are produced in less time than it takes using the conventional CtF process. Imaging directly from the computer to printing plates shortens the production cycle and saves on material costs. Using processless plates with a CtP can completely eliminate the costs associated with chemistry and processors.
In the conventional CtF process, it takes five steps to make a plate for the press. During the CtP process, four steps are eliminated. This reduces the time required to get the plates to press. Faster production cycles help get the finished job to your clients more quickly.
Removing steps with Computer-to-Plate avoids losses in quality that occur during film processing. This makes plate scratching and variations in the exposure much less likely. Plates are also more consistent and offer longer print runs.
CtP technology offers sharper print quality. Without film, dot gain is eliminated during the prepress process. This allows the printing press to print cleaner, crisper images. All of this results in the press having more capacity for printing higher ink densities and richer, more saturated colors.
Computer-to-Plate provides better registration. CtP uses an aluminum substrate that is very resistant to changes in temperature and humidity. This media is held in a precise position during imaging and does not rely on a separately-aligned pin grid as is the case with CtF.
Buying used equipment makes CtP more affordable than ever.
The advantages of moving to computer-to-plate technology are overwhelming. Buying Computer-to-Plate equipment used to be a big investment. Now that the technology has fully matured, owning a CtP is a vital part of staying profitable as an offset printer. The improved quality, ongoing operational savings, and increased productivity make CtP the easiest, most affordable, and reliable plate-making option.