Hardware
Kodak, during last week’s WAN-IFRA World Publishing Expo in Vienna, introduced enhancements to its thermal CTP portfolio for newspaper. Since introducing thermal plate imaging technology 21 years ago, Kodak states it has shipped over 21,000 CTP units worldwide, of which over 2,500 are newspaper CTPs.

At WAN-IFRAl Kodak highlighted a 16 percent laser power improvement for both its Generation News and the Trendsetter News platesetters, allowing newspaper printers to image more plates in a shorter time. Based on the additional laser power, the throughput of the Generation News Platesetter Z-speed version has increased from 258 to 277 Sonora News Process Free Plates per hour. The Trendsetter News Platesetter V-speed version is up from 116 to 129 plates. Kodak intends to make this enhancement commercially available as a standard feature in the first quarter of 2017.

The new speed imaging technology branded by Kodak as “W speed” is another optional addition to the Trendsetter News Platesetter. When used together with the Sonora News Process Free Plate and the Autoloader option, it boosts the throughput of the Trendsetter News Platesetter from 150 to 240 plates per hour, or in the configuration with the Single-Cassette Unit (SCU) from 116 to 150 plates. Kodak also provides integration into existing plate lines with optional single or dual plate rotation. The new W-speed option will be released in Q2 2017.

“These newest enhancements to our CTP solutions are further evidence of Kodak’s faith in the future of newspaper and coldset web offset printing,” said Brad Kruchten, President of Kodak’s Print Systems Division.

Kodak has also announced recently the new, Mobile CTP Control app specifically designed for mobile devices, which lets customers monitor multiple CTP systems and receive immediate feedback on their platemaking process. The new Kodak Mobile CTP Control app will be commercially available early 2017.

Trendsetter News also features a new cooling system that, according to Kodakl improves power savings by an additional 30 percent compared to the initial design, namely down to as low as 770 watts while imaging. The platesetter also comes with a new, shorter unload table which reduces the footprint of the CTP configuration.
Agfa Graphics has added a new member to its Advantage N platesetter family, the Advantage N-PL with an ability to image up to 3,100 plates continuously at a throughput speed of up to 400 plates per hour.

The company explains continuous plate production is made possible by the integrated pallet load module of the Advantage N-PL. The module supports two different plate formats – single plates and panorama plates – and allows printers to have both online simultaneously. The printer either loads two stacks of 1,500 single plates or one stack of 1,500 panorama plates. In addition, an extra 100 plates can be loaded on top.

“The pallet load mechanism is quite simple. When the CTP engine has used up its first stack of plates, it automatically puts the second stack in place to continue plate production,” said Emiel Sweevers, Marketing Manager for Newspaper Engines, Agfa Graphics. “Thanks to this continuous production, we can avoid inconvenient plate leftovers. Moreover, the Advantage N-PL autonomy of more than 3,000 plates significantly reduces the number of necessary production stops and averts manual plate-loading errors such as badly stacked plates.”

The pallet load module also enables printers to load new plates under white light circumstances, without interrupting the production process. By inserting a light protection shutter between the empty stack and the online stack, for example, Agfa explains new plates can be loaded through the back or the side of the machine without damaging the online ones with UV light.
 
“The plate stacks are protected by a transport harness until they are moved to the online position inside the Advantage N-PL. That, together with the light protective shutter, allows printers to load a new stack without needing yellow light conditions,” said Sweevers. “The loading possibilities of the Advantage N-PL also add to the engine’s ability for continuous production.”
Agfa Graphics has added a new 4-up system, called the Avalon N4-30, to its thermal platesetter line. The new model for the 4-up computer-to-plate market comes in three speed options (E, S and XT).

The fastest XT version produces up to 33 plates per hour. The imaging technology is based on the company’s fiber-coupled LD (laser diode) recording head known from the Avalon N8-24 series. All the Avalon N4-30 models, explains Agfa, reduce power consumption thanks to the automatic Eco Mode in idle time and are available with manual and automatic plate loading.
 
“The Avalon N4-30 XT completes our offering in the 4-up segment supporting conventional and chemistry-free plate types,” said Bruno Lepage, Marketing Product Manager CTP Equipment Commercial & Packaging, Agfa Graphics. “Both the quality and the speed, but also the high reliability of our systems are extremely attractive to B2 commercial printers. The laser diodes enable the reproduction of sharper halftone dots, improving print quality up to Sublima 280.”
After the introduction of the Attiro clean-out unit earlier this year, Agfa Graphics has now launched the Attiro VHS, built on the same patented cascade concept of the earlier machine.

With an increased plate throughput speed of up to three metres per minute, the Attiro VHS handles plates from platesetters imaging up to 400 plates per hour, such as Agfa Graphics’ newest Advantage N-TR VHS.
 
“The throughput numbers of Attiro VHS speak for themselves, especially for heavy-duty printers,” said Emiel Sweevers, Newspaper Segment Manager at Agfa Graphics. “They need high plate volumes and require high throughput speeds in the complete pre-press production.”

The Attiro and Attiro VHS are built according to a cascade design concept. There are three sections; the concentrated gum cascades from the third section into the second and later into the first. The gum is therefore reused three times, explains Agfa, resulting in minimal gum consumption yet maximal clean-out effect. It allows users to save on maintenance and gum while contributing to a more sustainable prepress process.
Agfa Graphics launched its new Advantage N-TR VHS platesetter designed for high-volume newspaper printers. The CTP system hits speeds of up to 400 plates per hour, which is 50 plates faster than the Advantage N TR HS system. Agfa explains the high-speed of the new system allows newspaper publishers to work with sharper production deadlines.

The Advantage’s N-TR VHS nomenclature stands for Trolley Load, Very High-Speed. The trolley is designed to transport plates from safelight environment to the platesetter. This gives operators the flexibility to load the plates in a separate yellow safelight environment more efficiently, Agfa explains, in case switching to yellow safelight conditions is not possible in the room where the CTP device is installed.  

“With these new systems, Agfa Graphics again shows its commitment to the newspaper industry by offering state-of-the-art CTP technology that meets the requirements of the premium level segment in the newspaper market,” said Emiel Sweevers, Marketing Manager for Newspaper Engines, Agfa Graphics.
CRON-ECRM LLC, a newly formed joint venture of China’s Hangzhou CRON Machinery & Electronics Co. Ltd, and ECRM Imaging Systems, announced the availability in North America of the partnership’s new platesetter series.

The CRON-ECRM systems provide up to 400 lpi with 1,200 to 3,600 dpi resolution. Each system allows for options in automation, imaging head preference (UV or thermal) and up to 96 diodes.
 
In addition to choosing the system’s type of imaging heads (UV or thermal), users can also select their productivity requirements by modifying the number of imaging diodes. Beginning with 16 diodes (in five different diode configurations), users can choose up to 96 diodes. These individual fibre-coupled diodes also provide for redundancy.

The CRON-ECRM platesetters can be configured for manual, semi-automatic or fully automatic operation (single or multiple cassette), as well as integrated with an optional in-line punching system. CRON-ECRM provides in-field upgrade paths.



Agfa Graphics introduced the 16-up Avalon N16-80 XT thermal platesetter, which the company describes as its new range of top-line models suitable for large commercial and packaging operations.

The Avalon N16’s 16-up external-drum engine is equipped with Grating Light Valve (GLV) imaging heads, with 512 or 1,024 channels (beams). The Avalon N16 range includes four models that produce between 16 and 42 plates (1,448 x 1,143 mm) per hour. The entry-level Avalon N16-50 E (16 pph) can be upgraded to the higher speed Avalon N16-50 S (24 pph) and Avalon N16-50 XT (30 pph) models in the field. The flagship Avalon N16-80 XT produces 42 pph.

Agfa Avalon N Automation for the N16 includes internal plate punching, dual, triple and quad cassette loading and online processing. A drum auto-balance system allows switching between different-sized plates.

The Avalon N16 internal punching system performs punching for both the drum and the on-press registration, immediately before mounting the plate on the drum. By adding optional press punch blocks, imaged plates can be loaded straight onto presses with different punching.


First introduced as a product demonstration at drupa in May 2012, Esko has launched its new and unique Full HD Flexo for flexographic platemaking. The technology –building on Esko’s existing HD Flexo product line – is described by the company as a highly manageable digital workflow to achieve the combination of smooth highlight printing and gravure-like solid ink densities.

Full HD Flexo is currently installed at over 20 early-adopter trade shops and converters around the world, from sites in Brazil to Austria. 



“Esko flexo customers are asking for the combination of the benefits of HD Flexo together with a gravure-like ink laydown and a fully digitally controlled platemaking workflow,” stated Jürgen Andresen, Esko Vice President, Flexo Business. “This is what Full HD Flexo brings and it moves flexo to an unseen level of quality and consistency with no need for compromises. Our unique, patented technology stretches the possibilities of flexo printing, allowing it to perfectly match gravure and offset quality for flexible packaging.”

Unlike processes that require intermediate analogue or manual exposure steps, Esko describes Full HD Flexo as the first and only fully digital platemaking workflow in the industry. Full HD plates are prepared completely within an Esko CDI imager and are immediately ready for processing after unloading. 



The CDI system combines plate imaging with inline digital main exposure in one and the same device. The digital Inline UV2 exposes through an LED-array light source delivering the necessary UV power density to provide control over the polymerization process during exposure. All UV exposure settings are controlled within the platemaking workflow, which helps with stability and repeatability. The system, according to Esko, works with popular digital flexo plates and sleeves, including products from the likes of DuPont, Flint, MacDermid, Asahi.

“We went beyond the binary discussion of flat top or round top dots, and created the best possible combination of print dot structures on one plate,” stated Jan Buchweitz, Senior Product Manager Digital Flexo at Esko. “This enables to differentiate the ink laydown on the substrate for different parts of the artwork on one single plate. This is a giant step forward for flexible packaging converters as the result is high quality flexible packaging that stands out.”


Esko added a new flexographic plate imaging system within its Cyrel Digital Flexo (CDI) Spark line, which the company has given a lot of attention to since drupa 2012. 



The new CDI Spark 2420 is described as a compact system for narrow web label and tag converters. “According to FINAT, global label demand across all print technologies is expected to continuously grow in the coming years, while world label demand growth for 2012/13 is approximately six to seven percent,” said Jan Buchweitz, Esko Senior Product Manager, Digital Flexo. “The CDI Spark 2420 fits neatly into our portfolio that includes the CDI Sparks 1712, 2120 and 2530.”

Esko states the CDI Spark 2420 addresses these new production trends in the label and tag market with its ability to image plate sizes up to 609 mm x 508 mm (24 x 20 inches) and also handle a range of plate materials, including: digital flexo plates, chemistry-free film, digital foil-based letterpress plates, digital metal-based letterpress plates and digital silk screens.

Understanding its customers' need to continually expand capabilities and market reach, Esko provides an imaging resolution upgrade path on 

The CDI Spark 2420 also provides an upgrade path for customers, who can choose between the standard 2,000 ppi to 2,540 ppi resolution system or upgrade to higher resolution systems with 2,540 ppi to 4,000 ppi or HD Flexo 4000 ppi in combination with high definition screening.

In May 2012, Esko introduced its Full HD Flexo concept for a worldwide commercial launch in 2013. The concept combines CDI plate imagers with Inline UV2 and HD Flexo technologies. Esko projects the concept will push flexo printing to a new quality benchmark comparable with gravure and offset, because it bridges the argument of flat top dots versus round top dots to create the best possible combination of dot structures on the same plate.

In May 2012, Esko introduced the CDI Spark 4835 Auto with digital Inline UV2 for flexo plate-making. The CDI Spark 4835 Auto is equipped with a digital UV back-exposure, integrates digital back exposure, automated loading, imaging, digital main exposure and off-loading to the processing unit.

In October 2012, Esko introduced its new CDI 2530 system designed as a high-quality, affordable option for small label companies in North America. Employing Inline UV1 and magnetic drum technologies, the CDI 2530 images digital flexo plates up to 25 x 30 inches. It comes with an incorporated plate loading table and an EasyClamp II drum for easier and faster plate loading, while integrating with the Kongsberg XN for automatic label cutting.



Apple is holding its World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco this week. While the majority of CEO Tim Cook's keynote presentation focused on developments on the company's mobile platform, Apple announced two new products of note for the graphic arts professional.

The Cupertino-based company has added its high density Retina Display technology to its 15-inch Macbook Pro, which will retail at $2,229 and up. The 2,880 x 1,800 display doubles the previous Macbook Pro's display density, bringing it to 220 pixels per inch. The processor has also been updated to Intel's new Ivy Bridge architecture and the entire device has slimmed to just 0.71-inches thick, primarily achieved through the removal of the optical disk drive. The previously offered 17-inch Macbook Pro has been discontinued. Non-Retina Display Macbook Pros will also be refreshed to include faster processors, but will not have a slimmer profile.

The Mac Pro has also been updated, though not part of the WWDC activities. Apple's professional-grade computer had not been updated since 2010. Gaining a processor upgrade only, the new Mac Pro has already been panned by critics for its lack of innovation. The latest ports present on Macbook, iMac, and Mac Mini devices, such as Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 ports, are not present and the video card offered dates back to 2009. A 3.2Ghz Quad-Core Intel Xeon Mac Pro starts at $2,549 with the 12-Core version starting at $3,849.


EFI yesterday launched version 5.3 of its Fiery Command WorkStation software for print-job management, which can be downloaded for free from its Website.


“Fiery Command WorkStation is the recognized industry standard for production printing job management technology, serving as the window into the entire printing workflow,” said John Henze, VP of Fiery Marketing at EFI. “Known for its intuitive interface… It enables seasoned pros to more quickly produce even higher quality output, while making it easy for less experienced users to produce professional-looking documents in just a few clicks.”



According to EFI, the Fiery Image Enhance Visual Editor (IEVE) is an industry-first feature, available in this latest version of Command WorkStation, for optimizing image appearance and applying per-image corrections. IEVE allows for editing of each image in a job without going back to the native design file.

This tool set allows users to adjust brightness, contrast, highlights, shadows, colour balance, and sharpness, as well as the ability to make red-eye corrections on any image within a job. Users can also save preferred settings as presets to apply to other images or other jobs on the Fiery.



Version 5.3 of Command WorkStation also includes imposition workflow improvements, such as user-defined finish size tools found in Fiery SeeQuence Impose (an add-on module) that honours a designer’s intent by automatically detecting the trim box and bleed box defined in the source document.



According to EFI, another key addition in Command WorkStation is integration with the EFI Color Profiler Suite, which allows users to diagnose profile problems, compare colour gamut, and create and edit profiles.



Agfa Graphics has introduced two new 8-up thermal platesetters, the :Avalon N8-60 and the :Avalon N8-80. The two models also come in different speed versions.

According to Agfa, the 8-up option leads to improved reliability and stable plate imaging. The company has also redesigned its single and multi-cassette autoloaders to allow reloading during exposure. Another new feature is a standby mode which saves 85 percent on power consumption.

"When you combine the new :Avalon engines with our ThermoFuse plates, chemistry-free :Azura TS or :Amigo TS, you get unparalleled productivity and quality" said Eddy de Dobbeleer, Marketing output systems at Agfa Graphics. "The new engine in combination with Agfa Graphics' :Apogee workflow and the :Sublima cross-modulated (XM) screening outperforms any other solution in the market on speed, ease of use and process stability."

Belgium-based EskoArtwork has announced it will be releasing a new version of its HD Flexo plate making system to 2.0. A combination of its 4,000 dpi HD optics of the EskoArtwork Cyrel Digital Imager and advanced screening technologies, the company promises sharper, more accurate and more vibrant results.

"HD Flexo has been a tremendous success, adopted and applauded by leading flexo printers worldwide," remarks Jürgen Andresen, EskoArtwork vice president, Flexo Business. "Now, EskoArtwork is responding to the further wishes of our customers worldwide to extend HD Flexo capabilities. We have strengthened HD Flexo's position as the 'open' industry standard for high quality flexo, available for all flexo applications — labels, flexible packaging and corrugated — and supported by major plate manufacturers. These new capabilities further enable conversion of gravure and offset work to flexo. The enhanced process color gamut makes it possible to replace spot colors with process colors, thus reducing the number of print stations and making co-printing of designs possible."

EskoArtwork achieves HD Flexo through its MicroCell screening, which improves solid ink transfer as well as extending the gamut. HD Flexo 2.0 is currently in beta testing and will be released in Q4 of this year. Existing HD Flexo customers will receive version 2.0 as part of their maintenance contracts. In its first year of use, 175 Cyrel Digital Imagers with HD Flexo have been installed around the world.

Flint Group Flexographic Products has launched what it refers to as a digital version of its water washable flexo printing plate for the narrow-web and mid-web markets.

nyloflex Sprint Digital is said to provide a high resistance to UV-based inks and varnishes, while producing at up to 60 L/cm.

Washout of the nyloflex Sprint Digital plate, according to Flint, can be done by using tap water. The plate washout does not requires any additives or solvents, according to the company.

nyloflex Sprint Digita is described as having a processing time of less than 30 minutes for the entire platemaking process.





Apple computers has announced the long-awaited update to its professional computers. The new Mac Pro, which feature up to 12 cores of processing power based on Intel Xeon processors, will arrive this August. According to Apple, the computers will be 50 percent faster than the previous generation.

The new Mac Pros also feature Solid State Drive (SSD) options, which greatly improve system read speed when compared to traditional magnetic hard drives. Also available for the first time is the inclusion of two Mini DisplayPorts and one dual link DVI port, driven by ATI graphics (a 1GB ATI Radeon HD5770 is offered standard, described by Apple as being faster than even the top-of-the-line cards of the previous generation.) An optional ATI Radeon HD 5870 is available, which doubles the performance of the 5770.

Absent from this update is support for the new USB 3.0 standard. Aesthetically speaking, the new Mac Pros appear identical to the previous generation.  

Pricing starts at US$2499 and ranges to US$4999 for the top-of-the-line processor, sans options such as the HD5870 or the 512GB SSD.

Alongside of the Mac Pro upgrade is Apple's new 27-inch LED Cinema Display, which has a resolution of 2560x1440 and a built-in iSight camera. Pricing starts is listed as US$999 and requires a Mac with Mini DisplayPort connectivity.

Also announced is an update to Apple's iMac line, which upgrades the computers CPUs to the latest generation of Intel Core i3, i5 and i7 processors. The computers will also get a boost in its video capability with new ATI hardware. An option of interest is a 256GB SSD hard drive for the 27-inch models, which is added onto a standard hard drive of up to 2TB in capacity.

Pricing for the new iMacs start at US$1,199 for the 21.5-inch models and US$1,699 for the 27-inch, 3.2Ghz Core i3 model.


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