December 1998

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Imagesetters offer film alternative

by Mike Tartar

Somewhere between the computer-to-plate talk and the persistent need for imagesetters, it should be no surprise that a new crop of hybrid imagesetters is emerging.

In addition to offering the standard features and film output, these combination imagesetters also are capable of imaging directly onto plates.

As with most early technology, the output is limited. In this case nearly all such devices can only image on polyester plates.

The polyester plates represent several challenges due to their press run lengths and training associated with their use.

But because imagesetters represent the first step in using the type of workflow involved with CTP, it seems as if this new crop of machines make them ideal for those who want to start with a film workflow and move to plates.

Although Ultre is primarily known for imagesetters, it showcased this year its 4-up imagesetter that has CTP capabilities. In addition to film and RC paper, the device can image onto polyester plates.

The Ultre 5800 is a capstan imagesetter that can work with a range of presses with its 18.12-inch format size. Output resolutions range from 1,000 to 3,386 dpi The 5800 also utilizes a brushless, dynamic air bearing spinner motor common to most drum-based imagesetters.

Imaging speeds are up to 22.4 inches per minute at 1,000 dpi.

The device also features a SCSI 2 interface, an optimized 670 nm visible red laser and automatic film loading. An optional processor bridge can be added for unattended work. An automatic punch system is optional.

The 5800 is marketed for commercial printers, service bureaus and newspapers who require format size flexibility, the company said.

The 5800 is expected to sell in the mid-$40,000 price range.

The Futuro imagesetter from Monotype Systems Inc., is another notable machine. But it differs from other types of combination machines in one major area &emdash; it can output to metal plates in addition to polyester plates.

The Futuro comes in two models. The HN model utilizes a Helium-Neon laser to image onto traditional film and polyester plates.

The IR uses an infrared laser to thermally expose dry film and metal plates at 1,905, 2,540 and 3,810 dpi resolutions.

Both machines have a 25.59-by-30.31 inch imaging area. Up to 80 pages per hour can be output, according to the company.

The Futuro HN offers resolutions of 1,270, 1,905, and 2,540 dpi. Additional resolutions of 1,016 and 3,810 dpi are available as options. Punch systems are available to suit almost any newspaper, including Bacher, Stoesser and any combination of side, head and tail punches.

As part of its effort to increase its prepress product line, Agfa announced its newest large-format imagesetter &emdash; the SelectSet Avantra 44XT.

The new machine joins the Avantra line of imagesetters, which were first introduced in 1994. The 44XT is also one of the first machines that can output to Agfa's SetPrint polyester plates.

"With the Avantra 44XT, we now offer the wide range of formats and capabilities our customers need," said Peter Kushnieruk, product line manager. "Among the broad line of SelectSet Avantra imagesetters, there's a solution that matches everyone's press size, quality and throughput requirements, as well as budget."

The new 44XT is specifically aimed at customers who need high throughput, including book, financial document and other large-page count publishers, according to the company.

The SelectSet Avantra 44XT can output as many as 25 flats per hour at 1,200 dpi. Output resolutions of 900, 1,200, 1,800 and 2,400 dpi are also available with a maximum line screen of 200 lines per inch. At 1,200 and 1,800 resolutions, the unit utilizes OptiSpot, Agfa's spot optimization technology. The system also supports Agfa's Balanced Screening technology at all resolutions.

The internal drum imagesetter offers a 36-by-44.5 inch format and features a touch-screen control panel. On-line processing is optional.

The 44XT includes the FlexMedia features. It allows users to define media widths and thickness, and lets users output to paper and film, in addition to Setprint polyester plates. A dual supply cassette is a standard feature.

Agfa's SelectSet Avantra line offers a wide range of capabilities and formats, from 2-up Avantra 25 models, 4-up Avantra 30 models, to the 8-up Avantra 44.

Purup-Eskofot recently introduced its new DPX Genesis. The machine handles both film and plate exposures and carries a price tag of around $25,000.

It utilizes an infrared laser exposure system and is combined with Capstan technology.

The DPX Genesis can process Mitsubishi Silver DigiPlate or Purup-Eskofot Dot-Print IR offset plates with its newly developed and integrated processor. The processor exposes, processes and dries the plates.

The plates are output from the system, imaged, processed, cut-to-size and dried. They are then ready for use.

The DPX Genesis is designed for A3+ and tabloid extra formats with an output resolution is 900 to 2,400 dpi. The system can produce plates for use with the Ryobi 3300 family, A.B. Dick 9000 family and Heidelberg Quickmaster line of presses. The maximum plate size is 13.4-by-21.6 inches.

The machine can also be supplied with a film kit that allows for conversion to a film imagesetter in a few minutes, according to the company.

DPX Genesis runs with a software RIP on the Windows 95 platform. Users in a Macintosh environment can utilize PC MACLAN for Windows 95 to ensure communication between RIP and Macintosh workstations.

Purup-Eskofot has made an agreement with Mitsubishi Imaging Inc. to market the DPX Genesis in the United States.

Scanview introduced at Ipex 98 in September its third generation imagesetter. The DotMate 6500 is based on the company's DotMate 7500 model. A DotMate 6500 CTP model produced press-ready polyester plates output in sizes ranging from 10-by-13 inches to 19.9-by-20.7 inches.

The model features a host of new advancements, the company said.

Utilizing an optimal drum architecture, the imagesetting format is turned 90 degrees, which decreased exposure time and footprint size.

A media processor is fully integrated and allows for synchronization from beginning to the finished plates, according to Scanview.

The 6500 can output 28 full-format films per hour at 2,540 dpi resolutions. Films can be output from 10-by-13-inches to 18.9-by-25.6 inches. Output resolutions range from 1,200 to 3,600 dpi.

December 1998 Contents

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Celix 4000 imagesetter announced from Fuji

by Mike Tartar

While many companies used Graph Expo as an opportunity to introduce products to the North American industry after they had debuted elsewhere, FujiFilm used the show to premier its newest imagesetter.

The company showcased the new Celix 4000 Mark II imagesetter. The unit is the next level of the company's current Celix 4000 imagesetter.

The Celix will be targeted towards commercial and magazine printers, trade shops, newspapers and service bureaus that handle large volumes of work.

"As one of the most versatile prepress solutions on the market today we believe that Celix 4000 Mark II's imaging capabilities and easy user interface will appeal to a wide range of electronic prepress users," said Peter Vanderlaan, Fuji Photo Film's assistant product development manager for the graphic systems division.

It offers a maximum imaging area of 29.9-by-24.7 inches and five standard output resolutions from 1,219 to 4,876 dpi. Line screens can go up to 600 lpi. Users can choose from four media width settings: 14, 20, 26 and 30 inches.

The image area can handle a wide range of image sizes, from single-page up to four-page imposed flats with full trim and bleed.

The Mark II can image up to four imposed pages on a single sheet of film, including all printer's marks and color bars in roughly 1 minute.

The Celix features an internal drum design to help ensure a repeatability of 5 microns over eight separations. An improved film handling system can increase throughput time by 20 percent, FujiFilm said.

The machine can operate in daylight environments and punching options are available, as well as on-line film processing.

In addition to the Celix, the company had other announcements in the imagesetter arena. FujiFilm said it has expanded its imagesetter line with a new large-format offering from Screen.

The FujiFilm FD-3100 imagesetter can image up to 32-by-40 inches. It can expose a full 8-page signature in 2 minutes at 2,400 dpi.

RIP technology

The Mark II is designed to work with the company's newly released CelebraNT RIP and the FujiFilm HQ-NT v.2.0 RIP.

The CelebraNT is based on a Windows NT Server 4.0, Intel and DEC Alpha hardware.

The PostScript 3 features of the Celebra include job ticketing, vignette replacement, remote GUIs and integration with a range of OPI systems. The newest version of PostScript also supports PDF printing.

Other key features include FujiFilm Trap, based on the Adobe trapping engine, FujiFilm screening, remote RIP management and job ticket workflow.

The company also showcased its FujiFilm HQ RIP based on Harlequin ScriptWorks that provides PostScript Level 2 compatibility. It offers ScriptWorks features and option applications offered by FujiFilm, including EasyTrap and Harlequin Dispersed Screening.

An Intel Pentium Pro 200 Mhz running Windows NT 4.0 is required for the RIP.

For more information call 1-800-877-0555 or visit

December 1998 Contents

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Screen shows off new RIP, imagesetter

by Mike Tartar

Screen had new developments in both the RIP and imagesetter field on display at its booth at Graph Expo in Chicago.

The company introduced the new Ad-510PM PostScript 3 software RIP and the new Katana flat-bed imagesetter.

Flat-bed design

The new imagesetter was formally introduced at Ipex in September. It had its U.S. debut in Chicago. The flat-bed Katana, named after the Japanese long sword, will be offered in two models. The two models feature different maximum media widths.

The Katana 5040 will have a maximum imaging width of 15.7 inches on 16-inch media.

The 5055 model can go up to 21.7 inches on 24-inch media.

This will allow the unit to image the majority of B2 press formats, and single-page broadsheet newspaper formats with the 5040 model. The 5040 also features an upgrade path to the other model.

Both imagesetters utilize a transport system that precisely places the media to be imaged.

A choice of punches can be configured, including DS, Stoesser, Bacher, Protocol and Western Lithotech. Both front and tail punching is available.

The Katana line comes with two hard disks for page buffering. Output speed is 72 inches per minute at 1,000 dpi. At 2,400 dpi output is 14.7 inches per minute.

The LD-M1060 is the standard in-line processor. Off-line processing is optional.

Users of the imagesetters can choose from a range of RIP options. They include the newly released AD-510 PM or the HQ-310PM or HQ-310 PC based on Harlequin's ScriptWorks.

The company also introduced show goers to its new Adobe PostScript 3 RIP. The AD-510PM runs on Power Macintosh. The PostScript 3 functionality offers users such features as smooth shading, image masking and idion recognitions.

Native PDF input, built-in data compression and in-RIP separations and a host of screening algorithms are supported.

The RIP can handle in-RIP separations of composite PostScript files from front-end applications.

The AD-510PM is compatible with the fast PIF interface card. The card allows high speed data transfer from the RIP to compatible imagesetters.

December 1998 Contents

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ECRM highlights new imagesetter models

by Mike Tartar

Graph Expo gave ECRM Inc. an opportunity to showcase the latest additions to its imagesetter lineup with the introduction of a unit that utilizes holographic imaging technology, as well as a new wide-format machine.

Going wide

For newspapers and commercial printers, ECRM introduced its new wide-format imagesetter at the show.

The StingRay offers true B2 compatibility and is available in two versions. The 6300 model features a 25-inch width and can produce 8-up impositions for commercial printers or double-truck pages for newspapers. The StingRay 5200 has a width of 20.5 inches.

"The StingRay competes directly in a market previously served only by drum-based imagesetters," said Ken Hurtubise, ECRM's vice president of marketing. "It produces high quality with resolutions up to 3,556 dpi and the page length required to do 8-up work."

Both models feature ECRM's patented lazy loop entry system, a built-in buffer and optional head and tail punches. Additionally, the StingRays output a variety of media, including film, paper or polyester plate.

Imaging speeds are up to 32 inches per minute at 1,000 dpi. Resolutions range from 1,000 to 3,556 dpi.

The first StingRay imagesetter was sold to Brook Litho, a service bureau in Maywood, N.J.

Holographic system

ECRM's new Mako 180HT was previewed this June at Nexpo and features holographic imaging technology.

This holographic system utilizes a five-faceted spinning disk with a holographic deflection surface to direct the laser beam onto the film surface. Five line scans are produced with each rotation of the deflector.

That means the unit can be output up to five times faster at the same rotation speed, according to the company.

ECRM said the technology offers another distinct advantage. With traditional mirror reflection, system errors can be magnified. With Hologon facet those errors can be reduced by a factor between eight and 100.

The 18-inch wide imagesetter produces resolutions up to 2,540 dpi.

It can output up to 60 inches per minute at 1,000 dpi and can image a 175-line screen ad full resolution. Repeatability of the unit is 30 microns.

In addition to the Mako 108HT, the company also added to the Mako line with new higher speed 14-inch and 18-inch models. Imaging resolutions in the complete line range from 1,000 to 3,556 dpi.

The entire line uses ECRM's Harlequin-based Power Macintosh or Intel NT RIPs, ECRM's new RIPtide Adobe PostScript 3 RIP, or ECRM's CtF Server software.

For more information contact ECRM at 978-851-0207 or visit

December 1998 Contents

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Small newspapers take second look at polyester platesetting

Staff Report

They say that everything old is new again, and in the small newspaper and short-run publishing world, a technology that has been around for a decade is generating interest for today's demanding environments.

James Martin, worldwide sales and marketing vice president of Heidelberg Publishing Services' Ultre division calls this technology CTP2, for Computer-to-Polyester Plate.

According to Martin, polyester plate technology is an ideal solution for newspapers with a circulation of 20,000 or less; as well as for on-demand and short-run providers.

Not only does it offer high-quality, economy and easy implementation; customers have had success with the technology over the past 10 years. And it's growing. In fact, industry-wide, market statistics show that polyester plate utilization increases substantially every year. In some years it has even doubled over the previous period.

However, it is clear that there is still a fair amount of confusion about this topic, and even some industry experts have trouble distinguishing CTP metal from CTP polyester, in terms of features, costs, and appropriate applications. At minimum, Martin says, CTP2 is easy to use, provides faster makeready, is relatively inexpensive, and reduces workflow.

The advantages of polyester to plate CTP2 can be realized in reduced costs per plate, reduced labor, reduced workflow and faster time to production. Here's how the ROI breaks out using a Quickmaster press for a typical, weekly 30-page newspaper:

In a traditional workflow, the newspaper might output its pages to a LaserWriter printer and take pictures of the pages with a conventional camera. Next they would develop the film on a photo processor, punch and strip the film, burn a metal plate, process the metal plate and mount it onto a press.

Now, the newspaper has the option of recording output directly to a Quickmaster format pre-punched polyester plate.

The plate is put through a processor, trimmed to size and is ready to be mounted on press. This CTP2 workflow saves time, as each page is printed directly to the machine instead of the LaserWriter.

If the newspaper uses an Ultre 5400, for instance, they can punch the plate as a final for use by Heidelberg's Quickmaster press. This first-generation plate is clear, and reprints more accurately with sharper and more defined halftone.

And since output to the LaserWriter is eliminated, cost and time are cut. For example, a one-color job would take 4-5 minutes, versus 18 minutes to produce a plate conventionally.

The cost of materials and labor &emdash; approximately $10.50 per plate conventionally &emdash; is reduced to only $4 dollars per plate using polyester material. Averaged out over a cost of a year (30 plates a week over 52 weeks), the savings for this weekly newspaper would be $10,000.

Considering cost and quality issues, it's no surprise that polyester plates are increasingly being considered.

December 1998 Contents

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