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New Advances in Inkjet CtP

(August 2004) posted on Tue Aug 31, 2004

Conventional inkjet systems are furthering computer-to-plate solutions


By Stephen Beals

For the past decade, commercial printing
plate manufacturers and inkjet imaging
specialists have been working on an
effective system for imaging commercial
printing plates through some type of
inkjet printing device. A few polyester
devices with fairly limited quality capabilities
have been introduced over the years,
but their limitations have resulted in
these machines barely making a dent in
the overall computer-to-plate market.

Inkjet printing, meanwhile, has progressed
by leaps and bounds in the past
decade. The increasing quality of screening,
and decreasing size of dots have
been augmented by much higher speed
and much more durable printheads.

Now, the same advances in printer
technology that have been making your
life easier are allowing computer-to-plate
(CtP) technology to be accomplished
through conventional inkjet systems.
Both of the new products I discuss here
are built on conventional off-the-shelf
wide-format printers. They also use customized
versions of off-the-shelf RIPs.

JetPlate

Print Imaging Sciences, Inc. of Nashua,
NH, now named JetPlate (www.jetplate.
com), won a GATF technology award in
July 2002 with its JetPlate system, which
this magazine reported on at that time.

JetPlate is an affordable, desktop
metal CtP system for small offset
presses, based on an inexpensive B3-format
inkjet printer. While other CtP systems
use costly lasers, this system's
plates are imaged with innovative "liquid
light" ink, which reacts with the photosensitive
emulsion. "This inexpensive system,
with inexpensive consumables, ties
into other vendors' systems and brings
computer-to-plate technology to the
majority of our industry"?the small or
low-end printers," a GATF judge
explained when making the
award.

At Drupa, the newly minted
company displayed its latest
releases and its new corporate
name, but the big news was the
interest being stimulated by the fact
that these machines can image highquality
conventional metal commercial
printing plates with up to 175 lpi-equivalent
resolution. This is being done with
some modifications to an off-the-shelf
inkjet printer using what the company
calls "liquid light," a liquid applied using a
standard ink cartridge. This is a photosensitive
chemical that must be processed
through a standard plate processor. The
company includes a Harlequin RIP in its
package, which sells as low as $30,000
for a 2-up (JetPlate 4000) version; a 4-up
version (JetPlate 7600) is also available.


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