When Auckland print company Crucial Colour wanted to upgrade its prepress operation, it looked to Kodak and its channel partner Frontline Technologies for the solution
FRONTLINE Technologies recommended Kodak thermal direct non process plates along to accompany the Kodak Magnus 800 platesetter. Craig Paul, general manager Frontline Technologies, believes the thermal direct non process plates will provide Crucial Colour with more jobs on the press. He says, “The thermal direct plate is a magical plate because it develops on the press. This eliminates the necessity for a plate processor and the logistics that go with that: chemistry purchase, storage and use.”
He adds that, while the non process plates have been in the country for four years now, he still encounters scepticism around their use. He says, “People say, ‘Crikey, it will gum up the machine.’ The reality is, of course, that the non process plates can’t gum up the machine; they have no gum.
Thermal direct plates are non-ablative, so they don’t need a debris removal system. They have an image sensitivity of 325 mJ. When the plate is inside the thermal imager, a laser writes the image to the coating. The operator then mounts the plate on the press cylinder. The plates can work with any manual or auto load systems. The image contrast is distinct enough to read 12 point type for cylinder identification.
After the plates are mounted and the fountain rollers engage and coat the entire plate with fountain solution, which swells the coating of the non-image area loosening the adhesive bond of the ultra thin coating to the plate. Paul says that because this process is physical rather than chemical, it ensures a wide latitude for press chemistry and press set-up conditions, which he says can will eliminate the variability associated with wet processing systems. He adds that when the ink rollers engage, the combination of fountain solution and the tack and shear of the ink help to ensure that the coating transfers completely to the blanket without any press contamination. The coating migration to the blanket is a physical interaction.
Kodak says that makeready is typically less than 25 sheets, adding that it has not received a single report of press contamination with the plates. It claims that short to medium run offset and web presses can achieve 100,000 impressions, offering printing quality of up to 99 per cent at 175 lpi, up to 98 per cent at 200lpi, and 25 micron stochastic screening.
CRUCIAL Colour has grown since Gary Furness began the company just over four years ago. With its growth came a need for a platesetter that could handle the pace of a busy print company. Paul recommended the Kodak Magnus 800 Quantum platesetter. He says, “One difference is in its configuration. While Crucial Colour has a five cassette auto load, which you would expect for a print shop handling a heavy load, the Magnus 800 provides Crucial Colour with the options of a semi auto, single cassette or 600 plate pallet loads.”
The semi automated load allows a plate on standby as the previous plate is imaged. The single cassette unit holds up to 100 plates of the same size and thickness with slip sheets and the multi cassette load holds up to 500 plates and the operator can load empty cassettes while the platesetter runs. The automatic pallet loader holds a pallet of up to 600 plates.
Paul says, “The automation enables faster loading and helps to reduce labour costs. It also allows Crucial Colour more flexibility in its operation. We believe it answers the specific needs here.”
Kodak claims the platesetter as the fastest eight-page CTP device in the market, offering a throughput of 60 plates per hour. Paul says that Kodak’s design technology automatically compensates for temperature related plate expansion and contraction. He adds that the platesetter’s autofocus mechanism prevents hot spots and provides robustness to process variation on the plate. He says, “Obviously, the platesetter integrates with Kodak workflow solutions and plates, but it also integrates with third party solutions.”