Opting for CTP
Implementing CTP may be viewed as a technological journey whose length and destination depend on your operation's starting point.
by Terri McConnell
Since its phenomenal debut at DRUPA in 1995, computer-to-plate (CTP) technology has been integrated into the daily routines of printers across nearly every commercial and packaging application. Why? Because the benefits of imaging directly to the printing plate surface from digital data are irrefutable. Digitally imaged plates carry sharper dots and are capable of delivering a wider color gamut. They register better on press. They are free of pinholes and the effects of light diffusion associated with analog film-based plate production. CTP has raised quality levels, reduced turnaround cycles, shortened press make-ready times, and minimized start-up material waste.
These results have been proven for newer direct-to-flexo plate systems as well as for the more mature offset systems. According to Carolyn Miller, a print buyer advocate for DuPont Cyrel, CTP for flexo is having a profound effect for consumer product manufacturers.
Though capital investment for a CTP system can top the million-dollar mark, pay-backs as short as 12 months have been reported. Agfa has recently completed a CTP productivity audit showing printers using digital plates are saving 20 percent to 30 percent on makeready within the first months of implementation, and as much as 50 percent when they are fully competent with the technology.
At Scitex's traveling CTP seminar, Andrew Tribute of Seybold Publications presented survey data showing 33 percent of potential CTP buyers were planning purchases by the year 2000. Some will buy CTP for cost-savings. Others will buy to maintain their leading-edge image. Still more will buy just to stay on par with their competition. Some will buy due to increasing pressure from print-buying customers. Whatever the reason, it's no longer a question of whether to use CTPit's a matter of when and which technology.