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E&P Technical: Platemaking without chemistry.

By the mid-1990s, as newspapers became convinced that computer-to-plate output was at last a practical reality, many looked to thermal systems -- not only for quality printing from a less-exacting exposure, but also in hopes of finally eliminating the variability, time, equipment, chemicals, costs and effluent disposal of plate-processing.

Progress has been made; a product for newspapers has not. But in May, at the giant drupa trade show in Dusseldorf, Germany, two big names in plates and platemakers will introduce thermal plate technologies that may one day migrate from commercial shops to newspapers' platerooms.

Now selling only visible-light platesetters to newspapers, Agfa has developed Azura, a chemical-free, non-ablative thermal plate that it says will give as many as 100,000 impressions. The company's CTP director, Theo De Keersmaecker, calls the development "a gradual progression to eventually having a fully processless plate."

At the same event, Kodak Polychrome Graphics will introduce what it describes as a no-process plate for small to mid-sized commercial printers. Compatible with most existing imagers, Thermal Direct, says KPG, speeds platemaking, resists scratches, holds 1-98% dots at 200 lines per inch, retains a latent image for as long as a week, prints as many as 75,000 impressions, and requires no debris-removal system.

Though Thermal Direct is aimed at the commercial market, KPG U.S. and Canada Product Manager Bruce Davidson predicts no-process plates "will find their way into the newspaper segment over time," mostly because they shorten the platemaking cycle. Whatever price KPG sets for Thermal Direct, says Davidson, it cannot be so high that it fails to preserve savings that accrue from elimination of processing.

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Title Annotation:Kodak Polychrome Graphics; Agfa Corp
Comment:E&P Technical: Platemaking without chemistry.(Kodak Polychrome Graphics)(Agfa Corp)
Author:Rosenberg, Jim
Publication:Editor & Publisher
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2004
Words:269
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