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Violet processless plate race at IPEX

Thursday, 06 April 2006
By Print 21 Online Article

Using different technologies, the two companies are both racing to be first to the market, with Agfa looking the slightly better bet at the moment. Although the output from the different plates seems almost identical, the unnamed Agfa product relies on current level lasers, while the FujiFilm one is dependent on the development of more powerful violet laser diodes.

On the other hand the Agfa plate does require gumming while the other doesn’t, leading to a slanging match as to what constitutes a true processless plate – the important aspect is that the plates are chemistry free. Both are likely to effect the largest change in prepress since the introduction of CTP.

The Agfa plate uses a process ‘photopolymerisation’ as the imaging principle. It can be output through all current violet-laser CTP units, which means the entire installed base will be able to get rid of chemistry almost overnight. It requires preheating prior to the stabilization process to stabilize and harden the printing image.

Agfa claims the new plate is very robust and on press features high chemical resistance even under difficult circumstances. It compares the performance to that of its chemistry-free Azura thermal plate.

“The success of Azura has taught us that many printing companies are eager to adopt chemistry-free CTP if in addition to low waste generation, the plate has the robustness, stability and contrast that press minders require,” said Marc Op de Beeck, Agfa Graphics vice president of Global Sales and Communication.

FujiFilm is launching both its processless thermal and its chemistry-free violet photopolymer plates, Brillia HD PRO-T and PRO-V, at |IPEX. The eagerly awaited thermal PRO-T only requires a slightly higher imaging power than Fuji’s existing thermal plate. It’s targeted at run lengths up to 100,000 and due to a new undercoating technology requires no additional equipment for true processless capability.

While processless thermal is an established technology with Kodak also entering the market, the advent of the much-faster imaging violet processless plates will make a radical difference to the production process.

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