The Dish on Plates
While some suppliers continue to pursue digital platemaking, others remain focused on conventional exposure and processing.
by Kate Tomlinson, Assistant Editor
THE WORLD IS digital. Digital phones, digital cable, and DVDs (digital video discs) are today's reality—will digital plates make way into every pressroom next? More and more suppliers are working to make digital plates commonplace. But how long will it be before every printer has adopted this approach?
The future of digital plates
"Without a doubt, once digital platemaking systems come full circle, they will be able to offer printers something they can always use more of—time," says Paul Zeinert, manager of technical services at Anderson & Vreeland.
While some suppliers continue making strides toward the "ultimate" in digital equipment, Zeinert says A&V has spent the last several years focusing on getting water-wash plate processing systems up to par with solvent-based systems. He reports A&V has come a long way, but still has some drawbacks to contend with. "Throwing a water-based plate system into the grind has several advantages, mostly concerning the environmental issues that go along with using solvents. We are trying to deal with ways to avoid rusting, as most equipment is not stainless steel. Finding additional artificial light sources [to eventually replace UV] is also coming into play," he concludes.
While Zeinert believes digital platemaking is close to achieving widespread adoption, Jim Kadlec, president of Advanced Prepress Graphics, disagrees. Kadlec believes digital plates will dominate in the future, but not for at least another 10 years. "Twenty years ago IBM laughed at Bill Gates when he mentioned every home and office with its own computer. Look at them now—he was right. I think it is going to be the same with digital plates." Kadlec maintains the amount of time digital platemaking saves must justify the effort before usage can hit majority levels.