The ins and outs of CtP

What is Computer-to-Plate?

Admittedly, when first researching Computer-to-Plate (CtP) for this blog, I was under the impression that I would end up writing a blog on food and how quick it is to order food nowadays… I was very much mistaken (and quite hungry). I’m sure you’re much more well-informed than me and so know that CtP is a prepress or printing process which is completely stand-alone. It is an ‘off-press’ procedure in which an image created in desktop publishing (DtP) software is output straight onto a printing plate.

How does it work?

Without going into too much detail, essentially it is the process of burning images onto a printing plate. Although we’ve seen a decline in the use of high intensity (violet) light, CtP is by no means declining. In its place, an increase in the use of thermal processing has arisen. Whilst it is still in the early stages of use and development, experts say this method could be the interesting new future of CtP.

What’s next for CtP?

Currently, companies are working towards creating CtP systems which are compatible with longer run lengths and the use of running UV ink. Why bother? Well this would eradicate the need for chemistry in thermal plate-setters and so could lead to quicker, cheaper printing. However, some experts are sceptical that we will see both working together in the near future. Instead, they would suggest concentrating on improving both longer run lengths and the use of sheet-fed CtP with running UV ink separately – something we know is definitely required by the market today.

Evolution v. Revolution

Are we going to wake up one morning to find that CtP printing is everywhere and somehow we slept right through a printing revolution or are there continuous changes which will lead to CtP becoming a well-known and used method? What may surprise you is that there is a significant amount of print that is already done using CtP and in fact the likes of Kodak are reinventing themselves as the leaders of CtP, rather than cameras as we used to know them. Whilst hit badly by the recession, CtP remains a core aspect of printing technology and continues to evolve with the needs of the time.

Why use CtP?

Here at Panacea, we’re not only concerned with saving you money, but also saving the environment, or at least trying to maintain an environment humans can survive in. Process-less CtP technologies use fewer chemicals and require less heat allowing them to become more environmentally friendly, yet still with reduced delivery time, cost and space required, meaning it is a more sustainable way of printing. Companies such as Fujifilm, are investing large amounts of time and money in the further development of eco-friendly print.
The Future.

Whilst we can never be sure of what’s to come, it looks as though CtP is here to stay. We’ve come a long way from Gutenberg’s printing press, so why stop at with your current system? The proper use of CtP can increase efficiency and pave the way for sustainability. Why not give it a go?

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Who’s Gutenberg?