Living Digitally in a Four-Color World
When it comes to computer-to-plate printing, more printers and publishers join the ranks of the believers every day, either experimenting with CTP with their four-color jobs, or switching to it
by Tatyana Sinioukov
Despite some limitations, as discussed by industry professionals below, CTP for four-color book production saves time and money and offers faster turnaround and higher quality than a conventional, film-based workflow.
That's why more and more printers and publishers join the ranks of the believers every day, either experimenting with CTP with their four-color jobs, or switching to it completely.
According to Frank Ervin, vice president of training and technology at Phoenix Color, Hagerstown, MD, CTP plate production for virtually all high-end color currently runs almost always a bit more slowly than conventional, film-based plate production. However, he muses, future research and development of CTP-related technologies (lasers, plate coatings, computing) and increased competition among suppliers of CTP tools, will provide faster turnaround and reduce run lengths and increase reprint periodicity.
Pros and cons of four-color CTP
Compared to a film-based workflow, says Ervin, a CTP one offers the following advantages
reduced usage of film, carrier sheets, film chemistry, tapes and adhesives
reduced personnel requirements for time-consuming stripping, film exposure, retouching and processing
reduced space requirements (for film storage, imagesetters, processors), and
higher-quality printing manifested through lower dot gain and better registration.
The final economics vary depending on how many times the book is reprinted, says Jerry Charlton, director of customer technical services at Quebecor, Kingsport, TN. He should know, since Quebecor, according to Charlton, expected to process at least 200 jobs CTP in 1998 and expects to double or triple that number in 1999 (Quebecor has been using Gerber Crescent 42 and 68 for output of imposed film and plates since 1994).
Tom Andersen, vice president of sales, H&S Graphics, Rolling Meadows, IL, adds to the list of CTP advantages