Tomorrow is Right Around the Corner
As interest in computer-to-sleeve technology expands, manufacturers are preparing to meet the impending demand.
Despite availability for a number of years, computer-to-sleeve imaging has yet to become the established force in the industry that many predicted. packagePRINTING sought out industry insider Ian Hole, business development manager for Esko-Graphics, to provide some insight and answers as to the present status of CTS and when it can be expected to "take off." According to Hole, CTS technology is already poised on the runway and simply waiting for clearance, to bring package printing to new heights.
pP: We are just starting to see some movement in the flexo Computer-to-Sleeve (CTS) arena, even though the technology has been available for several years. What is the reason for this? Is it the cost? Or perhaps the difficulties of adding new technology?
Hole: As with any new manufacturing process, there are a number of factors that determine rate of acceptance and implementation. In the case of flexo sleeve technology, adoption is probably first and foremost directly related to the commercial availability of affordable sleeves.
Until fairly recently, there were only a handful of companies in the world that produced well-manufactured sleeves—and these companies were not necessarily the traditional, large-volume photopolymer plate suppliers. Rather, they were independent printers and prepress trade shops that made sleeves in small volumes for their own presses, or for very specific customers. As the benefits of sleeves became better understood, demand gradually increased. As the demand increased, the supply chain began to grow. The majority of today's new presses, both narrow-web in-line and wide-web central impression, are capable of running sleeves. And the big plate manufacturers are taking their sleeve technology out of research and development and putting it into production. We expect some significant announcements from the major players by the beginning of 2003.