Rinus Hoebeke on new plate technologies
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June 2010. Rinus Hoebeke is Segment Marketing Manager - Newspaper Europe, Middle-East, Africa region (EMEAR) for Kodak Nederland B.V. Kodak is manufacturer and supplier of thermal and photopolymer violet printing plates (ThermalNews Gold, VioletNews Gold, NS, PF-N), thermal platesetters (Generation News, Trendsetter News) and processors (Mercury).
WAN-IFRA: What are the newspaper client’s principal requirements of printing plates?
RINUS HOEBEKE: Several criteria are important such as: Consistency and plate handling, environmental aspects: (pH and repl. rates), processor maintenance.
On-press performance is key… Robust handling, Press dot gain, Ink/water balance, Roll-up, Solvent resistances, Durability, Run length including scratch resistance.
WAN-IFRA: Process stability is often said to be an important aspect. How it reached and what are the potential disturbancing factors?
R. HOEBEKE: The keywords are stability, accuracy, consistency, and repeatability.
For the printer, the integrity of the image on plate directly impacts the integrity and profitability of the pressroom. Early CTP adopters realized that plate imaging accuracy, consistency, and repeatability were key requirements of an effective CTP investment. Thermal imaging earned strong support because it proved to be both stable and consistent, using high levels of power (measured in Watts) to image relatively low-sensitivity plates. The plate coatings respond to exposure by forming an image at a threshold temperature, in a process that is essentially binary: either the image is created or it is not. Over- and under-exposure are virtually nonexistent, and imaging is very consistent.
Comparatively, violet and other visible-light-sensitive technologies must be used in a light-safe environment, exposing photosensitive chemical coatings with tiny amounts of imaging power (measured in milli watts). In this situation, even slight variations in power can cause over- or under-exposure of the plate. The quality of the imaged plate can also be affected by minor variation in plate manufacture, storage temperature, humidity, handling, and the development process. If the promise of CTP is to deliver consistency, by their very nature, visible-light CTP systems (including violet) exhibit greater potential for plate imaging variation.
The cost of that plate imaging inconsistency shows up in the printer’s most expensive asset—the pressroom.
WAN-IFRA: Comparing thermal and photopolymer violet plate technologies, what are their respective strengths?
R. HOEBEKE: Ongoing discussion in the trade press suggests that the choice of CTP system begins with a discussion of imaging method, primarily thermal vs. violet (visible) light. As the largest developer and manufacturer of thermal CTP technology, Kodak has a clear self-interest in this debate. Having begun as a manufacturer of visible-light CTP systems and now a manufacturer of both thermal and violet digital plates, Kodak has experienced among its own customers the original shift from visible-light CTP to the adoption of thermal imaging technology. Having this intimate experience with both sides of the argument, Kodak is in a unique position to shed light on the issues critical to printers wanting to make a fully informed CTP investment.
The decision about which technology to adopt should not begin with an assessment of the imaging technology, but rather with a thorough analysis of what the investment is intended to accomplish.
WAN-IFRA: Where does development stand with processless plates ?
R. HOEBEKE: Currently we are selling the processless newspaper plate (PF-N) in the US only. We do not believe it is suitable for mainstream application in the EAMER newspaper environment. It is targeting a niche newspapers market which we believe is specific only to the US. It is however giving us invaluable experience in the use of non-process plates in newspapers which will help us in the development of future non-process plates dedicated to the newspaper market.
WAN-IFRA: What platesetter do you recommend for the VioletNews Gold plate?
R. HOEBEKE: VioletNews Gold is compatible across a wide range of exposure devices using minimum a 30 mW violet laser diode
WAN-IFRA: When will the waterless Kodak plate for newspapers come on the market?
R. HOEBEKE: At the present time we do not have a formal timeline for market introduction of this technology. We will update both our partners (KBA) and the marketplace of our progress as appropriate.
WAN-IFRA: Kodak presented a new newspaper plate at Ipex...
R. HOEBEKE: Thermal News Gold 3rd generation is the new at Ipex launched thermal plate called “Trillian”. The new Trillian plate doesn’t need pre-heat and doesn’t need pre-wash. It has very low developer consumption (30 ml/m2) Note: lowest in the market, even lower than Agfa/Fuji chem-free. It has a very low developer pH and therefore no need for anti-oxidation replenishing.
WAN-IFRA: What is Kodak's development focused on in the area of newspaper plates?
R. HOEBEKE: Environmental responsibility is a key priority at Kodak, and we are committed to sustainability worldwide. We recognize that we have a role to play in helping society prosper by driving business growth in a responsible manner.
Kodak strives to develop products and services that reduce environmental impact, with:
• Automation that reduces waste throughout the entire print production chain. Workflow software automates labor-intensive manual processes in prepress, saving time and money, and reducing errors. Our CTP solutions and digital press controllers use advanced automation to improve productivity, and reduce overall waste.
• Digital print solutions that enable efficient, profitable, short-run production of personalized material, minimizing over-production and waste
• Stable, predictable offset and flexo CTP solutions that maximize productivity in prepress and on press, reducing overall plate usage, ink and substrate waste
• Plates that either eliminate processing and baking, or require significantly less chemistry to process
• Equipment, packaging and consumables that are fully recyclable
• A full range of programs and services to help you meet your sustainability and compliance objectives.