Pulp and Paper Canada

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New printing language and technology of which to be aware


April 1, 2001
By Pulp & Paper Canada
Alex Glassman

New words and terms are emerging in the world of printing. Two of these new terms reflect a massive introduction of new technologies that are important for all the papermaking industry to be aware of,…

New words and terms are emerging in the world of printing. Two of these new terms reflect a massive introduction of new technologies that are important for all the papermaking industry to be aware of, and to understand.

CTP: It derives from “Computer-To-Plate”. In the printing industry, the “preliminary” operations such as art work, typesetting, stripping, film making and proofing are being replaced by computer-based “files” that eliminate all the preliminary operations. This vastly reduces the necessary manning and cost of preparing a printing plate. A leader in this field, with its technology or “solution”, is Creo of Vancouver, a Canadian firm. Others include Agfa, Barco Graphics, Fuji, Gretag, Heidelberg, Krause, Presstek, Purup-Eskofot and Xant. Each includes sophisticated systems such as violet lasers, ablation and green lasers as well as thermal.

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The CTP technology does not fit all printers — film has not disappeared — as not all printers can afford CTP equipment.

D.I.: This is imaging directly from a computer to the press. In CTP there are two distinct stages: first, you directly image a plate. You bring it to a press; then, you “hang it”, that is, position the plate on the press so it will print “in register”. In D.I., you never handle the plate. It is already positioned on press to receive computerized instruction. There are hundreds of D.I. machines, both sheet-fed and roll-fed, but this technology is still in an early stage of development. It is usually used for small sized, short-run printing jobs of a few hundred or a few thousand copies.

For short run jobs — from 100 to 5000 copies — this is ideal, when it is not practical for many commercial printing presses. Also, with direct imaging, one can use variable information printing (VIP), which can produce both variable images and variable text, as desired, to fit particular markets. The message can be individualized to a specific recipient’s, or a group of recipients’ profiles, such as all doctors, sportsmen, or any category of customer.

The new direct imaging presses can be sheet-fed, as exemplified by Heidelberg’s use of Presstek technology, or web fed, such as Zeikon. The terms CTP and D.I. are relatively new terms; they did not exist just a few years ago. They come at the beginning of the revolution that is in progress in printing. Already, offset press manufacturers are looking at computer to cylinder technology whereby the printing plate is eliminated by imaging directly onto the press cylinder. Prototypes using this technology were shown in May 2000 at Drupa in Dusseldorf, Germany, the largest printing equipment trade show in the world.

What does this signify for the papermaker? It translates into the fact that printing technology is up to date and keeping up with other communications media. It means that printing will remain competitive and attractive and it opens the door to increased demand for higher value added products from the paper industry: specialized products to fill the need of new and exciting emerging printing technologies.P&PC

This article was prepared for the Printing and Graphic Arts Committee of PAPTAC by Alex Glassman, Paper & Graphic Arts, Inc.


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