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Agfa connects @ drupa 2004

Monday, 25 September 2006
By Print21

It’s the largest graphic arts show of them all with 1,957 exhibitors from 49 countries, attracting an expected 420,000 visitors through the doors of the Düsseldorf Trade Fair Centre from 6th to 19th of this month. Designed to showcase the very latest in graphic arts technology, drupa is the single most significant event on the industry’s calendar.

But this drupa is notably different in one determining effect – at this show most of the new technology is invisible. This time around connectivity is the buzzword. The key problem to be solved is how to intelligently transport the electronic data that has become the foundation of the 21st century graphic arts industry to every part of the production and manufacturing process. CIP4, JDF, XML, ANSI, PDF, PPML and other acronyms hint at the depth of research and collaboration underway to establish data highways everyone can use.

Nowhere is this shift of emphasis clearer than at the Agfa stand in the centre of the hall they call Print City. Claiming its place as one of the largest and longest established manufacturers to the industry Agfa is positioned as driver of the new-age graphic arts industry – innovator, pioneer of workflows, the earliest adopter of PostScript as the basis of its workflow.

Taking as its own the prepress world from creative process to imaging onto a printing plate, Agfa inhabits the sector that has seen the most changes during the digital revolution of the past two decades. Its portfolio of new products at this show clearly indicates that far from running out of possibilities to enhance the process it is still honing the cutting edge of efficiency and productivity;

  • a new processless CTP plate,
  • faster thermal and violet imaging machines for commercial printers and newspapers,
  • a new 340-lpi screening technology,
  • the first showing of the newly acquired ink-jet press, the .Factory from Dotrix and
  • linking them all a new generation of Agfa’s industry benchmark workflow :ApogeeX

    The invisible ties that bind


    :ApogeeX 2.0 is the newest version of Agfa’s prepress workflow solution based on PDF, JDF, and Digital Film. This new release focuses primarily on system scalability and load distribution of process intensive tasks. In addition, it comes with many connectivity features such as drivers for new Agfa and non-Agfa CtF and CtP imaging devices as well as proofers.

    While the first release of :ApogeeX focused primarily on small printers and low volume production environment, in which users want a well-featured single platform solution at an entry-level price point, :ApogeeX 2.0 provides solutions that accommodate the productivity and connectivity needs of both the small and the high-end user.

    “Users want to be able to scale their systems so they can anticipate short deadline needs or any change in their workflow requirement. At the same time, we see that customers want to interface their workflow with legacy engines and proofers, with MIS or production planning systems, or with their imposition solution. :ApogeeX 2.0 is a perfect fit since it will do all of this with great simplicity, thanks to its intelligent design and user-friendly interface,” said Garry Muratore, Oceania Regional Marketing Manager for Agfa’s Graphic Systems’ group.

    New user-friendly features that have been added to :ApogeeX 2.0 include:

  • Increased JDF functionality extending automation up to content creators and
    facilitating the distribute and print model
  • Load balancing to fully and dynamically scale a system, meeting peak load
    criteria of demanding production environments
  • Fault Tolerance to insure maximum up-time and protect customer investment
  • Export of PDF/X-1a and PDF/X-3, and more.
    There are two new :ApogeeX 2.0 product configurations being launched at this drupa, :ApogeeX Commercial and :ApogeeX Packaging.

    New to :ApogeeX 2.0 are:

  • :ApogeeX Create Pro which builds on the popular :Apogee Series3 Create, providing advanced PDF creation requirements for publishers, designers, ad agencies,
    service bureaus and prepress houses. Besides PDF creation and preflighting, :ApogeeX Create Pro resolves PDFs including transparencies, and optionally traps
    the PDF, or provides page proofs to content and contract proofers.
  • :ApogeeX Proofer builds on the popular :Apogee PDF Proofer RIP. This is the most basic version of :ApogeeX, targeting customers that prefer a Do it Yourself proofing workflow, where PS, PDF or EPS documents are conveniently processed for output to a range of proofing devices.

    “Whatever :ApogeeX product is used, customers will experience the same ease of use, the same look and feel, and will have access to the same features, of the
    :ApogeeX product,” Muratore said.

    :Azura is an ‘almost’ processless plate

    In the realm of printing plates the pursuit of the processes thermal plate has long been considered the Holy Grail. At this drupa there are two commercially available plates from leading manufacturers – Agfa and Kodak – with another FujiFilm demonstrating a beta version.

    The Agfa plate the :Azura is based on the same, proven technology that is used in Agfa’s :Thermolite Plus plates, :Azura is a non-ablative plate that offers very wide exposure latitude, very wide press latitude and run lengths of up to 100,000 impressions.

    While in normal thermal plates, a latent image is formed during plate imaging, which then needs to be processed chemically to produce a lithographic image, :Azura plate imaging requires a clean-out or gumming step of non-image areas only. The plates offer excellent robustness for pressroom handling.

    “After talking to our customers and understanding what their requirements are, Agfa chooses to first bring a real working chemical-free solution that meets most of our customers’ requirements, while the technology also offers a growth path towards truly processless plate,” said Theo De Keersmaecker, Agfa’s director of CtP. “:Azura, which offers high consistency and excellent contrast, is a gradual progression to eventually having a fully processless plate.”

    :Azura plates feature high quality (2-98% dots on plate) for medium volume (up to 8,000 m2/year) users in the 2-, 4- and 8-up format. They provide the benefit of being ecologically friendly, while also providing a total lower cost of ownership.

    New thermal platemaking configurations – but of course!

    As one of the leading thermal CTP manufacturers it is unthinkable for Agfa to appear at such as prestigious show as drupa without a new platesetter to add to its other systems; the
    :Xcalibur 45 and :Xcalibur VLF systems. This time around there is the addition of :Acento, a new 4-up thermal CtP imager to its product portfolio.

    Following in the footsteps of its successful violet cousin, the 4-up :Palladio, :Acento brings the full automation, quality and reliability of thermal imaging to medium-size printers looking for a thermal option. :Acento comes in a variety of configurations, each featuring different levels of automation and speeds, depending on the customer’s needs.

    For example, the :Acento E, a 16-channel platesetter, produces 10 plates per hour, while the :Acento S, a 32-channel platesetter, produces 20 plates per hour.

    There are also three plate loaders available. The :Acento L-300 plateloader keeps 300 plates online in three cassettes (including slipsheet removal); the :Acento L-100 plateloader keeps 100 plates online in a single cassette (including slipsheet removal); and the :Acento L-50 plateloader with manual slipsheet removal keeps 50 plates online.

    The :Acento joins the other thermal systems in Agfa’s product portfolio, the :Xcalibur 45 and :Xcalibur VLF systems. The :Acento’s small footprint and compact design makes it ideal for organizations with limited floor space.

    “In talking to our customers, we learned that a significant number of them prefer thermal technology for their graphic enterprises. At Agfa, it is our mission to provide quality products using the technologies that our customers are not only comfortable using, but can benefit from by using them. The 4-up :Acento expands our product offering in the thermal imaging area,” Theo De Keersmaecker, Agfa’s director of CtP. “In the 4-up market also, our offering is now complete with both violet and thermal CtP systems.”

    The :Acento also features an optional inline punch for major press configurations. :Acento is optimized for :Thermostar plates, :ApogeeX workflow and is capable of :Sublima screening at 240 lpi.

    dotrix direct-to-press inkjet printing at drupa

    At the Agfa stand there is Agfa’s latest acquisition technology– a single-pass digital inkjet press — the.factory — designed for industrial print applications.

    Capable of printing 907m2 per hour at widths of up to 63 cm wide, the.factory is the most productive industrial digital print solution available today. Alongside the existing stand-alone roll-to-roll version of the press, dotrix demonstrates its suitability for point-of-purchase, folding carton applications and roll-to-roll label applications with the integration of a jumbo unwinder and sheet cutter.

    The area also features other Agfa printing solutions, including the new
    :Grand Sherpa Universal, Agfa’s poster printing system that uses eco-solvent inks.

    Barco, parent company of dotrix, agreed early in the year to an acquisition offer from
    Agfa. The acquisition adds digital and industrial printing niches, such as packaging, label printing, decoration, object printing and security printing, to Agfa’s portfolio.

    “The addition of dotrix’s technology to the Agfa portfolio will result in increased print production. dotrix’s innovative developments working side by side with Agfa’s imaging expertise will give printers the greatest technology and value available in the graphic arts industry,” said Jan Van Daele, Agfa’s vice president of imaging solutions.

     

  • This article was brought to you by Agfa connects @ drupa 2004

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