June 2002—Digital and CtP (computer-to-plate) are the buzzwords for the future of printing. Meanwhile, the reality is that most shops are still printing the old-fashioned way, which usually requires, among other things, an imagesetter for computer-to-film production.
In a November 2001 study done by CAP Ventures, just 15.1 percent of respondents owned a CtP device. That means that more than 80 percent of commercial print shops probably still use an imagesetter. With technology changing so rapidly, it is impractical for many shops to invest in CtP right now. Many are waiting for the metaphorical dust to settle before taking that big step, or hedging their bets with hybrid systems.
Meanwhile, most mid-size and smaller print shops buy and use imagesetters so, in addition to our reporting on digital RIPs and printing in this issue, we have assembled a roundup of notable imagesetting products.
Agfa SelectSet Avantra 44
Agfa’s SelectSet Avantra 44 builds on the SelectSet Avantra line of internal drum helium neon laser imagesetters. It adds new features for fast, efficient output, offering a 36x44.5-inch format that matches most large-format presses. It supports resolutions up to 3,600dpi and stochastic screening for critical color applications. The Avantra 44 can also output polyester plates for short-run applications. You can choose from three Avantra 44 models – the 44XT for $135,950, the 44S for $135,950 and the 44E for $125,550.
Agfa Phoenix 2250
The Phoenix 2250 is Agfa’s mid-size internal drum edition. It supports up to 3,000dpi and 200 line screen ruling to provide plate-ready films and press-ready polyester plates. The Phoenix 2250 list price is $69,000.
Agfa AccuSet Plus
Agfa’s AccuSet Plus is a 14-inch capstan imagesetter that supports maximum screen ruling of 200 lpi and accommodates resolution requirements that range from 600 to 3,000dpi. With a repeatability of ±1 mil. over eight separations, the AccuSet Plus is suitable for four-color applications. It has output speeds up to 22.5 inches per minute. There are three AccuSet Plus models: The 800, 1000 and the high speed 1500. Each is upgradeable to the next model. List price for the 800 is $17,950, the 1000 lists at $20,950 and it is $23,950 for the 1500.
ECRM Mako, Stingray and Bluefin
Mako imagesetters are available in 22-inch, 18-inch and 14-inch formats and are compatible with both film and polyester plate material. Field upgrades in both width and speed are available.
Stingray offers 4-up and 8-up imagesetting and is available in both 25 and 20.5-inch-wide formats. Stingray imagesetters include built-in head and tail punches and an online buffer for direct connection to film processors.
The newest model Bluefin imagesetters are designed to deliver high throughput rates and with the flexibility to handle a wide variety of newspaper publishing applications. Offering throughput of up to 130 punched and cut broadsheets pages per hour, the Bluefin also offers head, tail and side punching, and is capable of handling a wide variety of custom punching applications.
K&F International Plate Express 3
K&F International, Inc. of Granger, Indiana manufactures a range of imagesetters for a wide variety of presses and plate sizes. These include the Plate Express 2, Plate Express 3, Plate Express 4, Plate Express 6, Twinline and Twin Drawer Exposure Units.
Plate Express 3 is an in-line, automatic exposure unit for single or doublewide plates 14x24 inches or 27.5x24 inches. Base price includes two singlewide and one doublewide cart with platens. PE-3 will hold up to 50 singlewide and 25 doublewide film and 400 single wide or 200 doublewide plates. Includes pin register, vacuum system, halide light source, rotary shutter and two C channel frames for doublewide plates. Hard-ware includes: bar code heads, cables and PLC upgrade programming. Maximum output is 115 cycles per hour.
Heidelberg Primesetter 74
The output systems of the Heidelberg Primesetter 74 allow operators to produce fully imposed film flats in-house. With an imaging format of 30.3x29.9 inches, the Primesetter 74 has been designed to match up with the Heidelberg Speedmaster 74 and other medium-format presses. Primesetter has the capacity to handle 6-up jobs.
Pricing for the Heidelberg Primesetter 74 (with punch) starts at $56,500. Key features include nine resolutions – five metric and four imperial; large imaging length in the fast scan direction (drum circumference); image film or use CtP technology to image polyester plates up to a thickness of 0.3 mm (12 mil); a combi processor for film and Silver-Digiplate processing; fast and easy media changes and up to 25 copy-ready flats or print-ready polyester plates.
SCREEN USA Katana 5040/5055 and Tanto 6120
Katana imagesetters offer exposure widths of up to 22.6 inches for the 5055 and 15.6 inches for the 5040. They feature an advanced film transportation system that assures consistent media placement. The Katana 5040 can image a B3 page in 22 seconds, while the Katana 5055 can image a B2 page in 30 seconds (at 1,200dpi); and both output to a variety of media, including film, RC paper and flexible plates; and support a wide variety of punch formats, including Screen, Stoesser, Protocol, Bacher and Western Lithotech.
The Tanto 6120 is a high-end, external-drum, 8-up imagesetter. It can handle media up to 33x45 inches and has six resolution settings between 1,200 and 4,000dpi. It can be used to image six different sizes of positive and negative films, as well as RC paper and polyester CtP plates. Features include output of 20 flats per hour for a media size of 31.8x44.1 inches at 2,400dpi without punching; advanced external drum design for high precision imaging; optional take-up cassette enables two media flows on the same unit. Punching can be done automatically before imaging with an optional internal register punch system. An advanced compact inline processor is also available as an option.
Creo Dolev 800V4
Creo’s Dolev 800V4 8-page imagesetter uses multibeam technology to increase throughput by 125 percent over the Dolev 800V2 imagesetter. Twin parallel laser beams generate the image, producing 39 8-page press-size films per hour at 2,540dpi resolution. Turbo screening boards and a faster load and unload system also contribute to the higher throughput.
Fujifilm Ninja Luxel F-6000
With just one laser, Fujifilm’s Ninja Luxel F-6000 produces up to 56 4-up flats per hour at 1,200 dpi. The imagesetter outputs four-page, plate-ready positive or negative film with a maximum image area up to 29.9x24.2 inches. Ninja can image film in all modes and automatically punch the long edges of the film to ensure maximum registration accuracy. Available with one, two or three lasers, Ninja can be easily upgraded on site. The suggested list price starts at $45,000.
Exxtra Imaging Systems’ Exxcalibur is a B2, 6-up internal drum film imagesetter. The Exxcalibur images film with widths of 14x26 inches with an imageable area up to 25.2x32 inches. Throughput speed is 40 films per hour at 1,200dpi and 24 films at 2,400dpi.
Resolutions include 3,600, 2,400, 1,800, 1,200 and 900dpi with proportioned spot sizes down to eight microns. Price is less than $51,990, including software ExxtremeOpenRIP with Agfa Balanced Screening. Exxtra also manufactures smaller format desktop internal drum imagesetters – the ExxtraSetter 300 and 400 series — and complete polyester plate systems, the EZsetter 300 and 400 series.