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Cron CTP – ‘like a little tank’ : Print21 feature

Wednesday, 17 July 2013
By Print 21 Online Article

Introducing a new brand of CTP platesetters into the tough Australian and NZ market is not easy. When Currie Group sourced the Cron thermal technology three years ago, it had no illusions about the size of the task ahead. The latest installation at Sydney’s BA Printing & Publishing shows that the local industry is prepared to embrace the new brand.

Troy Momdjian, director of BA Printing & Publishing, was at PacPrint in Melbourne earlier this year to seal the deal with Currie Group for his company’s new Cron 2616-E A2-size thermal CTP machine.

Cron at PacPrint: Sealing the deal at PacPrint, Troy Momdjian (centre), director of BA Printing & Publishing, with Andrew Dunn (right), national manager, prepress solutions at Currie Group, and Johan Laubscher (left), consumables sales representative

So certain was he of the new machine’s capabilities that he had made up his mind to buy the machine prior to seeing it at the show. According Momdjian, his first glimpse of the new platesetter confirmed the list of benefits it could offer his 30-year-old Brookvale-based company. As part of a package from Currie Group that included Horizon finishing equipment, he was also able to achieve a very good price.

“What convinced me of the new machine was its functions, its capabilities and the footprint of it – it could easily fit in the space we had,” says Momdjian. “The price of the machine was another important ingredient. I bought a folder as well and, with the Cron machine, Currie gave us really good value.”

Momdjian settled on the Cron platesetter as a suitable replacement for the company’s existing polyester platemaking system. Using Agfa Azura processless plates, Momdjian says the new machine delivers a sharper image and the ability to perform longer runs. Another upside is a cleaner and more environmentally friendly working environment for the company’s employees, with the Azura plates doing away with the need for chemical disposal.

“The new environment that the Cron provides is odourless,” says Momdjian. “Changing drums of chemistry and replenishment gets messy, so it’s a lot tidier on the clean-up at the moment. We’re also saving money on chemical disposal, which we no longer have to worry about with the new system.”

Higher quality

While the cleaner working environment represents an important improvement, perhaps the greatest value for the company is in the quality and quantity of work it can now offer customers with the new set-up.

“We do a lot of short-run booklets and perfect bound books, along with a lot of work from government departments and some trade work,” says Momdjian. “The quicker make-readies help with this work, as does the longer run lengths and sharper dots. It allows a higher quality of work to be output.”

Unlike the roll-fed polyester plate system it is replacing, the Cron machine takes individual hand-fed plates, and while the overall plate throughput has not increased substantially with the new system, it does allow for a broader range of plate sizes and thicknesses to be used.

“The machine we had before was on a roll and there is a manual component to this new machine where you have to hand-feed the plates,” says Momdjian, “Although it doesn’t have an auto stack or a self-loading cassette, it still conveys the plate from the imagesetter to the processor automatically. It has a good level of automation.”

Thermal on the rise

The Agfa Azura TS chemistry-free plates used with the new Cron system are recognised for their stable and predictable imaging as well as the durability that comes with thermal technology. In part, it is the high quality of the Agfa Azura plate that has helped drive Currie Group’s thermal CTP business in the local market.

While the Currie Group name has become synonymous with digital print and finishing technology thanks to its HP Indigo and Horizon portfolio, for Andrew Dunn, national manager, prepress solutions at Currie Group, the popularity of the company’s thermal CTP technology and the take-up of the Cron equipment suggest there is still room for growth in the offset market.

“We believe that the A1 markets are going to be strong for CTP growth,” says Dunn. “There are a lot of CTP systems out there that are over ten years old and they need a facelift. In fact, printers can now get a new machine for less than it costs them to service their existing machines.”

It was this continued belief in the offset market that prompted Currie Group to take on the Cron range over three years ago. Since then, the company has installed more than a dozen machines locally. According to Dunn, the quality and durability of the Cron machines has surprised everybody who has seen them at work in the field. Cron, which is headquartered in the Chinese city of Hangzhou, has a reputation for the development and production of world-class equipment.

“Our customers have all been surprised by the reliability and the quality of the Cron machines,” says Dunn. “We’ve got one in the Print Media Group in Melbourne. The company has been running it for three years now and it never breaks down. It’s like a little tank, and the quality’s very high.”

Dunn is no stranger to the reliability of the brand’s products: before working for Currie Group in Australia, he spent time working in China where he got to know the Cron range of equipment and was impressed with what he saw.

“I worked with a lot of the companies in the CTP space in China when I lived in Hong Kong and I knew this company pretty well,” he says. “I knew it was pretty stable and reliable.”

Focus on offset

Founded in 1992, Cron – otherwise known as Hangzhou Cron Machinery & Electronics Co. – introduced its first conventional plate CTP device (UV-CTP) with its wholly-owned core technology at the end of 2008. Cron’s development work in CTP has since resulted in several different products including silver plate, violet and thermal imaging systems.

Now, with over a dozen installations of the Cron equipment in Australia and New Zealand, Dunn hopes to see many more come into the local market as Currie Group works to build its thermal CTP business.

“We’re now pushing this market for the thermal imaging,” he says. “This is our first foray into thermal imaging and the other companies out there doing it have dropped the ball a little bit.”

The popularity of the Cron range of CTP machines, which includes the TP-2600, TP-3600 and TP-4600 series, suggests that Currie Group looks set to replicate the success of its original ECRM DPX systems of which it installed over 200 in the local market. For Dunn, the growth in popularity of the Cron equipment range is simply the latest chapter in a continued commitment to the local offset market.

“I’m focused on it 100 per cent,” says Dunn. “I’ve been doing this for 30 years. We’ve got our HP Indigo section but we’d like to think we’re still just as focused on the offset side of things and, already, this has been a very big year indeed.”


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