Tech Guide: CTP & Plates

Tech Guide: CTP & Plates
How do the latest crop of CTP units and plates stack up?

Platesetters and Imagers

AGFA GRAPHICS AVALON N8

The Avalon N8 is actually a range of eight thermal B1-size platesetters. They are upgradable, and can process up to 65 plates per hour, with a maximum plate size of 1,165 x 950mm. Printers can start with any one of the eight models and upgrade it as their business grows.

The Avalon’s plate productivity is linked to the laser technology of the imaging heads. The fastest models use Grating Light Valve (GLV) technology with 1,024 beams, resulting in a top speed of 65 plates per hour.

A variety of automated functions adds to the overall productivity and profitability, allowing printers to customise their computer-to-print solution according to their specific needs.

Agfa says the key benefits of the Avalon N80 series include reliable platesetting, accurate registration, high quality imaging and automation.

The Avalon N8-60 and N8-80 models apply GLV imaging head technology, using 512 and 1,024 beams to deliver between 32 and 65 B1 plates per hour in a fully automated CtP configuration.

The Avalon N8 series features an external drum design, and an automated lightweight clamping and vacuum system secures plates to the drum.

The internal punching system punches for the on-press registration immediately before mounting the plate on the drum to improve register on press and reduce makeready times. Because the punching is done while another plate is being imaged, there is no loss of plate throughput.

By adding optional press punch blocks, imaged plates can be loaded straight onto presses with different punching, eliminating further manual steps and increasing makeready efficiency.

The Avalon N8’s upgrade path can meet expanding production requirements by using the same base engine. Printers can upgrade from an entry-level manual machine to a fully automated model by simply replacing certain key parts on the job.

Agfa maintains a team of service engineers and plate specialists to show printers how to get the best results from their kit and take steps to make sure performance is achieved consistently.

ESKO CDI 4260

Esko claims the CDI (Cyrel Digital Imager) offers flexo print results that were previously only achievable in offset or gravure. There is a CDI for every need, from narrow web label printing to flexible packaging and wide-format corrugated printing, printing single-colour corrugated boxes to sophisticated multi-colour packaging and security printing. With its larger size plates and productivity at an entry-level price, this device fits the demands of trade shops and converters.

The CDI 4260 is designed primarily for outputting flexo, letterpress and dry offset printing plates. Secondary support is available for some types of offset plates and film. It has a standard resolution of 2,400/2,540dpi with options to image at 4,000dpi and 8,000dpi. It offers imaging speeds up to 8m2 per hour, and a range of sizes from 43 x 25cm to 127 x 203cm. Esko says it is the only CtP device to offer HD flexo.

The CDI Spark 4260 Auto offers full automatic plate loading and unloading for maximum throughput with little operator intervention.

Esko’s Flexo Implementation of Quality (FIQ) team ensures immediate start-up of the flexo process, with flexo prepress, plate set-up and configuration, fingerprinting and press profiling.

GLUNZ & JENSEN ICTP PLATEWRITER 3600 PRO

Last September Glunz & Jensen released the iCtP PlateWriter 3600 Pro, which produces press ready aluminum plates without the use of chemical processing, in a daylight environment. Glunz & Jensen products are distributed in Australia by Australian Graphic Servicing.

The iCtP Platewriter 3600 Pro is suitable for commercial printers, quick printers and in-plants, small and mid-size newspapers and book printers.

The PlateWriter 3600 ProTM is based on a new technology that Glunz & Jensen claims takes inkjet platemaking to a completely new level in productivity and usability. It is based on its stable solvent ink technology which is used in the PlateWriter 2000/2400 systems, with over 40 installed by Australian Graphic Servicing throughout Australia.

The PlateWriter 3600 Pro is an enhanced format model offering landscape plate loading for an even higher throughput speed. It is suitable for 2-up, 4-up and 8-up press formats up to 915 x 1,140mm plate sizes.

It produces press ready aluminum plates without chemical processing in daylight operation for commercial printers and small newspaper applications. This small footprint CtP solution is completely self-contained and its chemical free approach means no additional equipment, such as plate processors or washout units, is required.

The semi-automated plate registration system provides a plate handling approach so multiple plate sizes and gauges can be used in parallel, with no changes. This makes the PlateWriter ideal for printers with more than one printing press.

The PlateWriter applies a Liquid Dot image on to nonphotosensitive aluminium printing plates. The imaged plates are manually fed through the integrated finishing unit that dries the plates and bonds the liquid dots to the plate surface, making them capable of printing more than 50,000 impressions on press.

HEIDELBERG SUPRASETTER

The Heidelberg Suprasetter family has a very small footprint, making it accessible technology for businesses of all sizes. Their low energy consumption meets environmental concerns and reduces operational costs. Every Suprasetter is delivered with a CO2 neutral certificate confirming that Heidelberg has offset the carbon used in the manufacture of the unit.

The laser head of the Suprasetter family is designed by Heidelberg’s own engineers, and the company says its reliability is backed by a warranty of up to seven years. The machines also feature an inbuilt temperature control to ensure a stable environment, which has made the Suprasetter popular in rural locations and tropical climates.

A popular benefit of the Suprasetter is they are upgradable in the field, so those who start with a basic model can upgrade from manual to automated processes and also increase speed.

Suprasetter CtP devices require minimum maintenance as the units self-check each day when they are turned on. For occasions when there is a problem, Heidelberg’s engineers can remotely access the machine to make a diagnosis ensuring minimum downtime.

The most popular model in the range is the Suprasetter A75, which is ideally suited to the A2/B2 market and comes in various configurations including Automatic Top Loader and Dual Top Loader for high volumes. The Suprasetter A75 produces plates at 2,540dpi up to 5,080dpi for special applications such as stamps and security printing. The A75 runs on low power consumption using only 5 watts on standby and 550 watts on average when imaging.

The Suprasetter family is competitively priced and Heidelberg provides options for financing.

SCREEN PT-R4600Z

The popular Screen PT-R4300 B2-size thermal platesetter has been discontinued and an all-new series, the PT-R4600, was introduced last November. According to Screen, the main differences are a shift from CAN-type LEDs to Fibre LEDs used in imaging the plates for sharper, higher definition, and a higher speed ‘Z’ model capable of 33 plates per hour at 2,400dpi.

Peter Scott, Screen GP managing director for Australia, noted other improvements. “The new PT-R4600 also benefits from the environmental advances in power usage, inherited from the larger B1 PT-R8600 series. This means that, in Eco mode, power consumption is reduced by between 74 per cent and 83 per cent while idling. Main power supply is down from 20Amps/4.0kW to 15Amps/3.6kW but despite this, the laser power is up 13%, making the PR-R4600 ideal for low-sensitivity processless plates such as the Fujifilm Brillia Pro-T and the Agfa Azura TS/TU.”

Three models comprise the PT-R4600 series, designated E, S and Z. Productivity is 11, 21 and 33 plates per hour respectively. Another saving for B2 printers is that the bridge to connect the CtP setter to a processor can now be built-in. For plate loading, a simple manual feed tray comes standard, with either 100-plate single cassette or 300- plate triple cassette autoloaders available as options.

“Other minor changes have been made in response to market requests such as new small plate sizes of 324 x 330mm or, as an option, 270 x 330mm,” said Scott. “Maximum plate size remains the same as the 4300 at 830 x 660mm – or 830 x 680mm by special order. The interface is now Gigabit Ethernet for full connectivity to either Screen Equios or most other workflows. Plate edge detection is also new for precise registration.”

He concluded, “All in all, the advances inside the new PT-R4600 S/E/Z models represent significant quality, cost and productivity benefits for our B2 format customers and also those of our plate partners Fujifilm, Xingraphics and Agfa. Needless to say, it is backed by Screen’s renowned quality reputation and locally available service technicians.”

Plates

AGFA AZURA TU

Agfa says the Azura TU plate is designed for high-volume printing using simplified platemaking by eliminating process variables for more consistent results.

The Azura TU offers consistent results because of its proprietary ThermoFuse technology, claims Agfa. The Azura TU can be used for high-volume printing up to 150,000 copies in commercial sheetfed printing. It is made of high-grade aluminium, allowing image quality up to 240lpi.

It offers environmental advantages because it uses no chemicals and water usage is reduced by up to 95%.

Plates can be processed faster as a result of high plate sensitivity and easier handling due to daylight immunity and its scratch-resistant surface. A plate sensitivity of 160mJ/ cm² allows for more than 50 B1 plates per hour.

The Azura TU is a true chemistry-free plate; as the image formation is a physical process there is no need for developer or replenisher. With no chemicals used, printers can expect lower disposal costs, a safer work environment and less waste.

In combination with the Azura CX clean-out unit, a long gum bath life of up to 7,000m² reduces equipment maintenance to a minimum. When switching from conventional processing to the Azura TU, a water reduction of more than 95% can be realised, as no rinse water is required.

CYREL EASY PLATE

In mid-2015 Du Pont announced the market launch of a new flexographic printing plate technology platform called DuPont Cyrel Easy.

The Cyrel Easy technology platform simplifies the prepress process by building the flat top digital dot directly into the plate, resulting in increased consistency. Cyrel EASY plates are based on a new polymer that produces higher ink transfer and higher resolution. DuPont says customer testing has shown significantly higher SID without compromising on highlights.

Cyrel Easy plates are available for Cyrel Fast thermal and solvent processing and in engineered and smooth surfaces.

“DuPont is excited to bring forward yet another key innovation to advance flexography,” said James Quirke, DuPont Packaging Graphics Australia and New Zealand manager. “By building flat top dot capability directly into Cyrel Easy plates, we’re making it fast and simple to enhance productivity, while delivering world-class print quality.”

Cyrel Easy plates are aimed at flexographic printers, converters and trade shops looking for a technology platform that offers a choice of both smooth and engineered surface plates for higher ink transfer and colour saturation, regardless of existing workflow.

It also offers a simpler platemaking workflow, with fewer steps and higher consistency, and no need for a nitrogen exposure unit, LED technology or lamination equipment to get flat top dots.

It is available as the thermally processed Cyrel Fast Easy EFE engineered surface, and Fast Easy EFX in a smooth surface. They are based on a completely new polymer that delivers higher ink transfer and resolution, all in less than an hour.

The Cyrel Fast Easy EFX and EFE are suitable for extended gamut printing.

The Nyloflex Gold A from Flint produces gloss and matt effects, bright metallic sparkles or shimmers, tactile surface structures and scented print designs.

Print finishing using low-viscosity coating systems in sheetfed offset printing opens up a multitude of possibilities. To generate these effects printers need a flexo coating unit with doctor blade and anilox roll system, low-viscosity coating systems (colourless or pigmented), and the coating plate as a transfer medium.

The Nyloflex coating plate for inline and offline print finishing is the transfer medium for print finishing on film, foil, paper, coated paper and board. On rough substrates the Nyloflex Gold A plates can meet most coating requirements and covers all printing press formats up to size VI.

Features of the Nyloflex Gold A include a unique coating plate on an aluminium base and a broad application range from low to high resolution, solids to line and screen designs.

Low-viscosity coating systems are available for nearly every application: as a water-based varnish, as gloss and matt varnish and also for use in UV printing. Pigmented metallic or pearlescent varnishes can be used to produce high quality printing with special visual effects.

Rub and smell varnishes containing microscopic scent capsules are now available in many different fragrances. The scent is long lasting and can increase sales appeal. These coating systems are also able to meet technical requirements such as sealing of printed materials or water or grease repellence.

Nyloflex Gold A plates provide consistent varnish transfer over long print runs. In combination with soft touch varnishes, gold and silver metal pigment and pearlescent inks, Nyloflex coating plates are ideal for packaging for high quality cosmetic, confectionary, food and toy products.

Distributed by WRH Global in Australia, the Xingraphics range of plates has a new addition, the Primus Plus Hybrid, which provides both environmental and economic benefits through a reduction in water requirements and a corresponding reduction in ink.

The Primus Plus Hybrid reduces water usage by 20-30% and reduces ink coverage by 5-20% in offset printing.

The new Xingraphics Primus Plus offers other benefits. Printing with less water ensures faster drying times, fewer water-on-paper related problems on sheetfed presses, and it can also lead to a reduction of paper breaks on web presses. All these factors further assist the bottom line through a reduction in energy consumption.

Xingraphics has also released another new plate, the UV Envase. It utilises double layer technology specifically designed for UV printing, which is rapidly gaining in popularity. The UV Envase does not need any baking, which is commonly required for most current plate technologies due to the aggressive nature of UV inks.

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