Upgrading to a New CTP Device Can Boost Productivity and Efficiency

Many newspapers in the industry today are still using platesetters that were installed over 10 years ago, and they’re missing out on some of the newer technology that could help their business. Upgrading to a new CTP device is a quick and cost-effective way for a newspaper to become more productive and efficient.

Why make a change, though, if the equipment is still working?

Speed is one reason. Even though an older platesetter may still be imaging plates, violet devices tend to lose speed as the laser ages, so they may not be as productive as when they were new. Also, if production needs have changed, even the original speed of the old platesetter may not be fast enough. Upgrading to a newer, faster platesetter can deliver big benefits. The standard speed 10 years ago was 200-240 plates per hour, and today it’s 300-400 plates per hour. With these numbers, some newspapers are choosing to eliminate one or more CTP lines, replacing them with fewer lines that are faster, allowing them to increase productivity in less space and with a lower capital cost.

Also, new platesetters come with updated software, hardware and basic components, which reduce service and repair costs. Although many CTP device models are well-known for being reliable—dutifully making plates day after day and year after year—eventually every piece of equipment will fail. Having older equipment is a risk, and failure could happen at an inconvenient time, causing delays on press. For very old devices, parts might be difficult, or impossible, to get, meaning that a CTP device will be unusable until a new one can be purchased, delivered, and installed.

Finally, buying a new platesetter is an opportunity to evaluate the basic technology that is being used to make plates. When it comes to platesetters, choosing thermal or violet imaging technology has been the biggest choice in the past. In the early 2000’s, thermal technology was “new” for newspapers and it wasn’t for everyone. It was slower than violet, and the platesetters didn’t offer as much automation. Today, however, thermal is the technology of choice for newspapers and the best choice for the future.

Thermal CTP devices are now available in a wide range of flavors, from simple and affordable manual machines to fully-automated, high-speed devices. Thermal imaging delivers more accurate and stable imaging, with no calibrations required. It is true digital imaging, with the image from the computer transferring accurately to the plate and then onto the paper. Thermal imaging therefore results in excellent color and better, effortless print consistency, important for attracting advertisers and readers alike. This improved print quality is also important for newspapers that are expanding their operations into commercial print for additional revenue. Because of the benefits of thermal imaging, violet technology is nearly nonexistent today in the world of commercial print.

Also, only thermal technology allows true process free plate making where a printer can completely eliminate the cost, inconvenience, and environmental impact of plate processing. Some of today’s process free plates are equal to processed plates in terms of productivity, robustness, and resolution capabilities, and newspapers around the world are quickly adopting them.

In conclusion, newspapers that keep using old technology are at risk of falling behind, with higher costs and lower productivity than those competitors that are upgrading to newer, faster, and more efficient CTP devices. A new CTP device is not only an investment in the future, it’s an investment that will reap benefits today.

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