Living Digitally in a Four-Color World
Faster turnaround, offers Rick Wills, electronic prepress manager, Banta Book Group, Menasha, WI, is definitely an advantage when one compares server-based CTP output to RIP-based film output.
Another bonus, he says, is the elimination of film-based plate steppers. Large-format filmsetters are rare, expensive and difficult to maintain, Wills explains, while the Creo platesetters, for example, at 45 x 55ý, are ideal for most plate sizes and configurations. "At one point, you had to output two, three pieces of high-resolution film, then mount and step the plates. With the CTP devices, it's a one-shot process."
Banta Book Group, according to Wills, installed a Creo 4555 manual platesetter in September of 1996, adding a second unit, the 3244, in 1998. The company now produces approximately 60 percent of its four-color jobs and about 40 percent of its one- and two-color jobs CTP. "We have not 'converted' to a CTP workflow fully," Wills points out, "although all flats are ripped via the same server-centric workflow whether we go to imposed film flats or imposed metal.
"We went the CTP route for a variety of reasons," he noted. "Number one was the demand of our customers. We also recognized a significant acceleration in turnaround and a dramatic increase in quality."
There's a limit
Not that CTP can be perceived as a panacea for all production problems occurring in a four-color workflow. Among a few limitations, says Andersen, are certain proofing issues (the plate output may not match proofs, plus the quality of a proof may be limited by a "higher cost vs. lower quality" consideration); possible increased costs of reprints and high cost of plates, as well as sometimes having to convert supplied film to electronic format (for example, with Creo Renaissance or Eskofot scanners) and having to proofread multiple proofs supplied by the separator and printer. "At this time, it is more economical to update film than plates," says Andersen.